2009 - November 7: Drunken Angel

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2009 - November 7: Drunken Angel

Post  pjowens75 on Thu Nov 05, 2009 7:17 pm

DRUNKEN ANGEL (Yoidore tenshi Japanese title) 1948
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040979/

This is a very early Akira Kurosawa film, and is unlike any other of his that I have seen. It is set in post-war Japan, when all movie scripts had to go through rigorous censorship by the U.S. occupation forces. As such, there are supposedly many symbolic references to the changing attitudes of the Japanese throughout the film. It is a very dark black & white film, not an action packed film, but is much more of a character study. It has been described by some as one of the first Yakuza (Japanese organized crime) films, and is about one yakuza member's relationship with a doctor (put very VERY simply).

According to several experts, the defeat of Japan, and the resulting occupation by U.S forces, resulted not just in acceptance of losing the war, but an entire change of cultural attitude.

I am interested in peoples impressions. Is it optimistic or pessimistic? Is it simply a character study, or is Kurosawa trying to do something more? Is the film successful, as a good movie, or in what Kurosawa is trying to convey? ?

These are just some ideas to think about while watching the film. But I really am interested in opinions about it. It is one of my favorite of his films (next to SEVEN SAMURAI), but times have changed, along with audiences. I'm curious to see if film watchers of today can relate to, or even have any desire to sit through, films that may be 50, 60, or even 70 years old.

Either way, I hope you enjoy it.

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Re: 2009 - November 7: Drunken Angel

Post  anotherzen on Thu Nov 05, 2009 8:48 pm

edit


Last edited by anotherzen on Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:23 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: 2009 - November 7: Drunken Angel

Post  Live for Films on Sat Nov 07, 2009 12:02 am

Never seen it and don't have a copy Sad

Thanks to all you guys for doing all the great work on the forum and the film club. I really appreciate it
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Re: 2009 - November 7: Drunken Angel

Post  pjowens75 on Sun Nov 08, 2009 2:37 pm

I watched it again for the Movie Club last night, and although I think it's a great movie, I can see how it might be very difficult for modern viewers to get into it.

To begin with, the acting style is way over the top. This was the style in Japanese films of the time, and in fact, a style that Kurosawa used throughout his career. He believed that dialogue was really unnecessary, and that an audience should be able to follow everything in a film, even if there were no dialogue at all. As a result, all of his actors have a "silent movie" style about them, over-exaggerating facial expressions to convey emotions.

The other thing that struck me was the slow clumsiness of the climactic fight scene. It wasn't until I found out that the paint spill was accidental that I understood the reason behind this. Kurosawa believed in filming "as is" and never used a lot of takes. The actors were using real knives, and were slipping so much in the spilled paint that they were being overly cautious not to hurt or cut themselves. They may even have been expecting Kurosawa to yell "CUT!", clean up the spilled paint, and re-shoot the whole scene. He never did, and felt that it worked the way he wanted.

I'm thinking that maybe the next time, I'll choose a more modern film that may be easier for peope to get into. I still think this film is a classic, and am always happy to turn people on to it, but it is so completely different than how films are made today, that it really does seem to be from another world.

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Re: 2009 - November 7: Drunken Angel

Post  anotherzen on Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:40 am

sorry for being late.

So i watched the movie, and i found it surprisingly good, and very 'westernly'. It doesn't have the typical Asian storytelling
element that sometimes can be confusing if you aren't used to it. Likeable characters, you even get to feel sorry for the
"bad/tough guy" after a while too. The way the movie portrayes TB as the filthy water and sometimes with the doll in the water
to symbolise the Matsunaga and all the filth he has surrounded himself with, is nice and gets the point across, even tho the doctor
also says it to him. I love the guitar player, makes the whole movie ooze with atmosphere.

The final fight does look a bit wierd, but then again, two people who are used to getting what they want usualy without breaking a
sweat, trying to kill eachother, i found it a bit refreshing, it seemed abit real, and yes abit clumsy, but when you fear for your life,
things might get clumsy hehe.

If i have one problem with it, its that the movie feels like its filmed in a much smaller town that i would expect the movie is taking
place. It seems like everyone should know everyone, but they don't seem to tho, and it makes the whole setting a bit, how to put it,
abit fake maybe. But its made in the 40s, even for nowadays standards, this one imo. stands up to the test.

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Re: 2009 - November 7: Drunken Angel

Post  pjowens75 on Sat Nov 14, 2009 2:05 pm

Thanks for posting, anotherzen. I'm glad you liked it.

It does seem like it's filmed in a much smaller place, doesn't it. In fact, the entire set was left over from the previous film (on which Kurosawa was assistant director), but was dirtied up for Drunken Angel. And I've read that Kurosawa made it seem claustrophobic on purpose, to symbolize the tight reins of the U.S. occupation forces.

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Re: 2009 - November 7: Drunken Angel

Post  anotherzen on Sat Nov 14, 2009 8:59 pm

nice, yeah it looks right but seems a bit wierd too, as i would expect people would mostly be on "first name" basis (tho prolly not in japan Razz) in such a somewhat small place, and atleast recognise people from 3 years ago. It just feels bigger than portrayed on screen, tho it might be because of the claustrophobic feeling that the place seems smaller than it really is. Hehe yeah something like that hehe.

I see there is a Directors Cut of it, running 150mins, would love to see that version, will see if i can find it someday.

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Re: 2009 - November 7: Drunken Angel

Post  Daan on Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:32 pm

i am VERY late, but i have been very busy, so i squeezed this one in on my free afternoon.

I liked this film, havent seen much of Akira Kurosawa (this and Seven Samurai).
It did take a long time for me to get into the movie, but i liked the relation the doctor and Matsunaga build throughout the movie.
And me too felt bad for Matsunaga at the ending.
I figured for myself that i'd buy this movie, and after watching it, sell it.
But after seeing it, i'm going to keep it, and maybe when i see it again, i'll like it even more.
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