I paid a visit to the National Film Television School in Beaconsfield last week where I introduced Kurosawa’s ‘Stray Dog‘ to students as part of the Screen Arts course led by Dominic Power (pictured left with me). The movie genre is ‘Gendai Geki’ – which means modern (i.e. set in post-1868 Japan). It deals with crime and social issues in post-war Tokyo under American occupation.
In particular I wanted to highlight composer Hayazaka’s unusual working relationship with Kurosawa and alert the students to how his use of sound contributes to story-telling. You can watch a film of the introduction here:
Mamoun’s introduction to Stray Dog, 1949, Dir. Akira Kurosawa – recorded at the National Film and Television School.
Stray Dog, Censorship and the Occupation of Japan (1945 – 1952)
Stray Dog title sequence
In the title sequence of Stray Dog, the opening shot of a dog’s head, open mouthed and panting, is superimposed by the censor’s number as having been approved. It is important to know that the American Censor forbade any reference whatsoever, good or bad, to the Allied Occupation of Japan. I have written about its particular relevance to the film in an article published in The Final Cut – the Yearbook of the European Film College in 2005. You can read it here.
A while ago Dominic invited me to introduce Kurosawa’s ‘The Bad Sleep Well‘, another Gendai Geki film, as part of Passport to Cinema – the NFTS joint programme with the National Fim Theatre. (The story has references to Hamlet, played by Toshiro Mifune, and centres on corporate corruption.)
I’d also like to thank Lee Evans for his video and stills photographic services at the event.
Dominic Power, the Head of Screen Arts at the world- leading National Film and Television School (NFTS) has asked Mamoun Hassan to introduce Stray Dog – directed by Akira Kurosawa – to NFTS students on Monday 17 June.
The Japanese police thriller is set in the gangster underworld of 1940’s Occupied Tokyo. It was the film that catapulted the dynamic Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune to world fame.
Kurosawa’s contemporary subjects (including Stray Dog, Ikiru and High and Low) have been shaded by his Samurai films although they stand comparison. Stray Dog influenced Dirty Harry in which Clint Eastwood’s character also has his gun stolen and used for murder.
Mamoun has previously introduced Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood at British Film Institute (BFI), and led his Movie Masterclass on The Seven Samurai at films schools around the world.
View the movie details online at the BFI Shop.
Mamoun Hassan will be taking part in a panel discussion following the screening of Wojciech Smarzowski’s ‘Rose’ as part of Refugee Week at BFI Southbank, London, June 18th.
The film was awarded the Tahrir Square prize for a human rights film at the Cairo Film festival in December 2012. Mamoun was part of the judging panel for the competition and believes Rose is a worthy winner of this important prize which stands for revolution, resistance and human rights: He says, “Films about history are really films about today. There is a kind of cruelty and mindlessness countered by an obstinate fight for humanity through one or two characters who hold on to an idea of civilisation and kindness.”
‘Rose’ dramatises the value of human rights in a tragic tale of war from a little-known period of Polish history: the post-WW2 persecution of the Masurians, indigenous residents of the region that is now Poland.
The screening was organised by David Somerset of the BFI as a complement to Refugee Week: it explores the universal condition of war which remains the main cause of refugees. It also marks a period of history that gave rise to the 1951 Convention relating to Refugee Status.
The other members of the panel are Roland Schillin (UNHCR, UK representative), and Anita Prażmowska (historian). Chair: Tim Finch (Dir. Comms IPPR, Pol. Journalist)
Book tickets online at the BFI website.