I saw Kurosawa’s Stray Dog the other day. From beginning to end, everyone hopelessly wiped sweat off their face and neck. Mifune, playing a Tokyo detective, wore a white suit all through, hot in body, deeply troubled in mind. The heat, being in the air, wouldn’t let anyone escape it. It was a Tokyo summer suggestive of hell and it spilled over from the television and filled my study. Mifune chased a thief all day in the heat until they almost became comrades at day’s end. During the chase she led him through post-war streets that looked those of Bangalore in the 1950s: wide and calm, with sprawling homes. Then in the night she gave him beer and lay down on the steps outside and looked at the sky. It felt cool for that while. He leaned back also, and looked at the infinite spread of stars: a brief glimmer of heaven. The movie panned back into hell. But Kurosawa is always kind to his viewer and not for one moment did he spill any of that suffering on me: it was life, and it was very well served.
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