1 - 7, 2018
ORGANISED BY THE AUSTRIAN-JAPANESE SOCIETY (ÖJG)
MARGARETENSTRASSE 78, 1050 VIENNA
Tuesday, October 3, 6:00 p.m
Japan 1949, 122 min.
At the time of its release internationally still unknown, the film was able to receive four trophies at one of Japan's most important movie awards, the Mainichi Film Concours, including Best Actor.
Tokyo in the late 1940s. It’s hot, sweltering hot. The young Toshiro Mifune as a cop, Detective Murakami, fresh from his training at the academy. The most embarrassing accident for a cop happens to him: his service pistol, a Colt, is stolen while he’s on a packed bus. Probably by pick-pockets, petty thieves, who earn a little on the side by selling or renting weapons. Murakami goes out on his own to retrieve the gun, roaming the narrow streets of sticky, sweaty postwar Tokyo. Wooden shacks rather than neon signs, beggars, gangsters, prostitutes dominate the scenery. He is laughed at, “amateur” they call him, even though his first arrest seems promising.
Veteran detective Satō joins the tricky case and supports our young hero, because he believes in him and is impressed by his enthusiasm. Together they begin to track down a more significant gangster.
This early Kurosawa (about a year before he received international recognition with Rashomon) impresses with its atmospheric depiction of the seedier quarters of Japan’s metropolis shortly after the war. By emphasizing density, heat and sweat, the director creates an exciting, tightly packed cop thriller that takes inspiration from early American film noir. Driven by his fear of failure, Mifune’s character lends the film a restless energy, paired with an instinctive coolness, a quiet charisma, that waits to unfold at just the right moment.