The movie “Stray Dog” is the classical masterpiece directed by Akira Kurosawa. It is about a rookie homicide detective, played by Toshiro Mifune, who had a stolen Colt pistol. It is ironic how a homicide detective had lost his weapon due to pickpocketing. The Colt pistol stolen from the main character was used in a series of murders, which eventually troubled him. Due to this, Murukami started to hunt the guy who stole his weapon and used it for murder.
Murukami who was in search was helped by Sato, played by Takashi Shimura, when the first victim was found. Sato was an old guy, but he was definitely clever. The movie or the manhunt occurs in post war Tokyo, with a partially bombed atmosphere or scenery. Furthermore, the search and the feat occur while a brutal and horrid heatwave is present.
The heatwave somehow shows or reflects the living conditions of post war Tokyo, or Japan as a whole (Ishikawa and Tyler, 1998). Japan after the World War II was devastated wherein problems in communication and transportation are at large. Furthermore, living conditions are not that good. There was a severe shortage in the supply of food, and a very high demand for it, and this lasted not just for months but for years.
“Stray Dog”, was filmed in the year 1949 which somehow relates to the time where the story itself took place. Furthermore, the setting or atmosphere in 1949 was evident in the film as justified by the presence of a lot of scenes showing cities or regions which requires rebuilding. The mark or indication of bombings was present in the setting of the movie, just like Japan after the bombings in 1945.
Poverty and desolation are some of the things which can be depicted out of the movie and in a way, gives the movie watchers a little feeling of social consciousness. Aside from Japan being withered by the bombings, the harsh or horrible social conditions also depreciates or weakens the soul and morals of a man. This happened to Yasu, the killer or antagonist in the movie, who was once a good person.
He shifted to a life of crime after experiencing the harsh effects of poverty and poor conditions of living. Somehow, it may tell the story of some individuals turning towards a life of crime and social evil to continue living in the post war Japan. As the title somehow suggest, “stray dogs” which could turn later on as rabid dogs, could be representations of a man or of a desolate individual who goes or turns to doing social crimes.
Social awareness on Japan also increases as the movie ventures into the dark alleys and criminal or murder elements in the story. Generally, “Stray Dog” is a good movie, especially to those who love murder or crime-solving movies and even to those socially or slightly socially aware individuals. It is like coursing through history of Japan, without being actually there. The audience are entertained, at the same time taught good lessons.
The second movie entitled “Lost in Translation” is basically a comedy-drama film which hit the box office hits in 2003. It is about an American action movie star, named Bob Harris, who was experiencing certain problems in his career and basically is losing it. Bob Harris, played by Bill Muray, went to Tokyo, Japan in order to shoot a film, more specifically a commercial on Suntory whisky wherein he met Charlotte, played by Scarlett Johansson. Bob and Charlotte went with each other, and experienced or shared an unconsummated romance.
Though at some points, they were a little bit uncertain about the directions that they want to take or in their lives or how far they want to take their relationship. Life in Japan by 2003 is far different than that of the post-war Japan. Also, life in Japan is different as that of what Westerners experience. As such, the two characters had a feeling of being alienated as they both toured or explored the life in Tokyo, more specifically Japan’s culture. Since they were both Westerners and that they are in a different country, they both felt loneliness and wanted to be with each other.
The second movie takes its audience to the new and modern Japanese cityscape, far beyond the scenery in the movie Stray Dog. After World War II, almost all the regions in Tokyo ware devastated and destroyed. By 2003, the city had risen from the ashes and had grown into a strong city with a lot of beautiful scenery.
The scenes or views of the new Tokyo after the war can be observed by the audience not just in the movie alone, but even in the posters, teasers or in the trailer of the movie. Economically and socially, the movie tours its viewers to the new Japan after the devastating war and shows through the scenery, actions or movements and characters how it had recovered. The post war economic success was possible and helped Japan to reinvent itself and be the Japan that we know of it today (Neary, 1995).
Just like the Stray Dog, Lost in Translation which was directed by Sofia Coppola, is very much entertaining. Lost in Translation was at first funny, but as the story goes on, audiences experience a unique drama. The ending of Lost in Translation was more mind boggling or intriguing as compared to the ending of the Stray Dog. The audiences in Lost in Translation are left thinking or imagining what the ending could have been. Both movies were able to show the old and new Japan, and if it was watched one after the other, the audience would be greatly aware of the huge transformation that Japan took or went to, before and after the war.
“Japanese History: Postwar”. 1996. (December 18, 2002): japan-guide.com. December 18, 2007. <http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2124.html>.
“Lost in Translation”. 2003. (December 18, 2007): Focus Features. December 18, 2007. <http://www.lost-in-translation.com/home.html>.
“Lost in Translation (2003)”. 2007. (December 18, 2007): Internet Movie Database Incorporated. December 18, 2007. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0335266/>.
Ishikawa, Jun, and William Jefferson Tyler. The Legend of Gold and Other Stories. Honolulu: HI University of Hawaii Press, 1998.
Neary, Ian. War, Revolution and Japan. Richmond, Surrey, GBR: Curzon Press Limited, 1995.