Directed by: Akira Kurosawa
Countries & Regions: Japan
Studio: British Film Institute
Length: 93 mins
Region: Region 2
Released: 25 July 2005
Cat No: BFIVD638
Screen ratio 1:1.33
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Classic early drama from Japanese master Akira Kurosawa which pays homage to the Warner Brothers’ thirties gangster movies. Takashi... Read More
Akira Kurosawa’s eighth feature is a densely atmospheric, supremely accomplished thriller which, characteristic of ‘The Emperor’, acknowledges stylistic influences from Western cinema such as French poetic realism and Italian neorealism whilst remaining firmly grounded in traditional Japanese values and imagery.
In post-war Tokyo, young gangster Matsunaga (Toshiro Mifune) enlists the help of a world-weary local doctor Sanada (Takashi Shimura) in an attempt to treat worrying symptoms of tuberculosis. Whilst he is shown to feel a deep compassion for all his patients, Sanada - the ‘Drunken Angel’ of the title – sees in Matsunaga in particular a reflection of his own brash younger self. Doctor and patient engage in a furious battle of wills as Sanada attempts, with some success, to curb Matsunaga’s hard-living ways. That is, until the reappearance of powerful rival gangster Okada (Reizaburo Yamamoto).
Shot through with Kurosawa’s trademark stylistic flair (the dream sequence and climactic fight scene are simply breathtaking) and built around powerful performances from both Shimura and 28-year-old Mifune in his first film for the director, Drunken Angel is quintessential Kurosawa: a perfect example of what would later be called his ‘existential humanism’.