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Drunken Angel (The Criterion Collection)
Upon its release in 1948, Drunken Angel was hailed in Japan as Akira Kurosawa's directorial breakthrough, comparable to Kubrick's Paths of Glory in the way it catapulted Kurosawa into a higher level of artistic achievement. Kurosawa himself noted, "In this picture I was finally myself. It was my picture. I was doing it and nobody else."
It is indeed an important, vital film, confidently conceived and expertly executed, illuminating themes that would dominate the finest films in Kurosawa's exceptional career. The setting is a rancid, jerry-built section of a postwar city, where a filthy, disease-ridden pond functions as a physical threat and also as the film's central symbol of decay. It's in this hardscrabble environment that a brash young gangster (Toshiro Mifune, in the role that made him a star) visits an alcoholic doctor (Takashi Shimura) to have a bullet removed from his hand. The doctor discovers that the hot-tempered thug is also doomed by tuberculosis, seen here as the physical manifestation of the gangster's moral decay. The doctor is himself diseased by his drinking, and as these clashing men struggle to make some kind of difference in their pathetic lives (spurned by the return from prison of a ruthless yakuza boss), Kurosawa makes unlikely heroes of them both--men who undergo a personal transformation in a vile and violent world.
Drunken Angel is a transitional film for Japanese cinema and especially for Kurosawa; it offers a vivid glimpse of postwar life (both rotten and restoring), and signals the full blossoming of Kurosawa's talent. And while the title role belongs to Shimura (so memorably poignant in Kurosawa's later masterpiece, Ikiru), the film belongs to the forceful presence of Mifune, whose vitality touches nearly every scene of this timeless and powerful drama. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A Gripping and haunting tale...Drunk Angel shows the various level human spirit can descend, ascend to and then back again. That even in the worst of us there can be some good. Read morePublished on Feb. 5 2004
Toshiro Mifune stars as a brash yakuza gangster whose bellicose bullying of a meek, alcoholic local doctor lead to the discovery that he is actually dying of tuberculosis. Read morePublished on Dec 16 2002 by DJ Joe Sixpack
Unsentimental, gripping morality tale of post war Japan. This is a simple story with the sharpness and balance of a finely crafted sword. Read morePublished on July 31 2001 by Penny N. Vilela
Unsentimental, gripping morality tale of Japanese society after WW2. This is a simple story with the sharpness and balance of a finely crafted sword! Read morePublished on July 27 2001 by Penny N. Vilela