Drunken Angel (1948)

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Director: Akira Kurosawa
Cast: Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune

Synopsis

A doctor treating the inhabitants of a slum area in post-war Japan comes into contact with a hoodlum drunk with tuberculosis.

The Review

A compelling socio-historical document using imagery to epitomise the fraught state of affairs obtaining in parts of Japan at the time: the cesspool around which the doctor pursues his practice, its surface ruffled by gusts of wind, and the alcohol swilled copiously down the characters' throats are not without symbolic significance. Kurosawa uses two actors who would feature prominently in his films, Shimura here playing against type as an irascible, flawed character, and Mifune gaunt and full of the fire of youth. The scene in which a girl is successfully treated by the doctor represents one of the glimmers of hope that stay in the mind long after the depressing aspects have dispersed.