Stray Dog

Stray Dog was another of Hideo Kojima’s Criteron selections. It’s excellent because it showcases Kurosawa’s skill with the camera. Pay attention to how the shots are composed; the way the actors move into and out of frame, the way he swings around objects to create whole new tableaus, and the way he isolates emotions within scenes. This is the work of an artist who understands precisely what the images need to convey. When film buffs gush about Kurosawa’s auteurship, they’re not blowing smoke. The man knew what he was doing.

The other reason this film shines comes by way of legend: supposedly Kurosawa had written a detailed lead-in to the main story, one that gave the audience the full background on one of the lead characters. His writing partner, Ryūzō Kikushima, suggested cutting it and starting the film off with the inciting incident. Watch the film with that in mind, and you’ll absorb a huge lesson in screenwriting.


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