Film_233w_StrayDog_original

 

Akira Kurosawa’s film from 1949 Stray Dog provides a glimpse into the hybridization of Japanese society. Shot only few years after World War 2 it depicts a world influenced by the American occupation of Japan. A meshing of Japanese life with western culture. This is apparent in locations such as baseball stadiums packed with 50 thousand people, or nightclubs, police stations, streetcars, you might think you were watching a film set in San Francisco rather then Japan. The plot provides an American noir influence the basic premise could have been pulled from a Bogart/John Huston film. Kurosawa uses this material to build a world but the story he tells within concerns the impact of World War 2 on Japanese society. The main character, Murakami (Toshiro Mifune), is a police man who while riding a street car has his gun stolen from him. His shame, which grows deeper as the movie progresses and the crimes and bodies from his stolen gun pile up, leads him to try and chase down the criminal with the help of a police detective (Takashi Shimura).

The heart of the film concerns war vets and the post traumatic stress that they struggle with. The man on the run who has the stolen gun is a vet who shares a parallel history with Murakami.  Both, while traveling back from the war, had their bags stolen. Each man dealt with the effects of the war in different ways. Murakami by becoming a policeman, the criminal, Yusa swirled into poverty and hopelessness. Each man through the stolen Colt is tied to the other and in the end they wrestle, the clashing of two destinies made physical.