Second Paper: The Early Kurosawa Films
The argument is often made that Kurosawa's early films were engaged in a project to explore Japan's social and political conditions in the early postwar years. What kinds of questions do you think Kurosawa was posing (or exploring) in the three films we saw: No Regrets for our Youth, Drunken Angel, and Stray Dog? Yoshimoto, for example, argues that No Regrets was "a political film, through and through,"(116) while Drunken Angel seems to take on the old feudal codes of the yakuza and portray them as anarchronistic in the face of the democratic ideals and scientific logic on which the new Japan is to be based. The language and imagery in No Regrets seems to suggest that a new kind of individual is necessary for postwar Japan, an individual with agency and subjectivity (shutaisei), while the imagery in Drunken Angel argues that postwar Japan is a mess and needs to be cleaned up and rid of the social and bodily diseases that confront it. Stray Dog, among other things, probes how memory and the past play a role in shaping postwar society and the identity of members of that society.
Pick an idea or a theme that you can find in one or more of the three films and explore it in your paper with examples from the film or from the readings. You can focus primarily on one of the films; you do not have to touch on all three but do not hesitate to refer to them in passing where appropriate. I do recommend trying to find an angle from the readings that you can use to delve into the theme or issue of your choosing.