By SleepyDoughnut 0 Comments
"Druken Angel" is a pretty sophisticated movie for it's time, weaving in complex themes of righteousness and the follies of pride into a tragic story of a Yakuza member stuck between a rock and a hard place. The theme that stuck out to me in this film is the idea of trying to live righteously in an unrighteous world. In a run down city full of all sorts of seedy activities going on, the doctor tries to live a principled, righteous life, and tries to help all his patients do the same. His methods of advising people are at times abrasive due to his booze filled nature, but his heart is always in the right place, hence the title, "Drunken Angel." The schoolgirl patient at the beginning and end of the film is symbolic of the good path to take in life. She takes the doctors advice about her condition and is healed over time. Her positive, cheery attitude serve in stark contrast to the rest of the characters in the film, and she reminds us that the doctor is trying to really help people, despite his blustery nature.
Matsunaga, the main character in the film, is the opposite of that young school girl. He to has an illness that the doctor is trying to help with, but has too many personal issues to go down the right path that the doctor wants him to, and this is the conflict of the whole movie. Matsunaga's constant cigarette smoking and drinking are symbolic of both him trying to show off what a badass, cool guy he is, and also symbolic of the fact that he is slowly dying. As an angry, lost soul of a Yazuka group, Matsunaga has too much pride and anger to listen to someone telling him what to do that isn't a Yakuza boss. The idea of being his own man and denying help from anyone is central to his own suffering. It shows a theme that everyone needs help in this world.
Eventually, Matsunaga realizes the seriousness of his condition, listens to the doctor, and tries to follow a noble path. Things are looking up, until his superior Okada comes out of jail to ruin everything. There is a very symbolic scene here where Matsunaga is holding a rose, representing beauty and life, and Okada comes by to talk to him for the first time in the movie. Okada convinces him to come back to the old ways, and Matsunaga agrees and throws the rose in the filthy river. This effectively symbolizes that Matsunaga's ambition for a better life is squandered. He gets roped back into his old life, with people he is loyal to but ultimately don't have his best interest in mind. In the end, this leads to his demise, which demonstrated to me is that pride and unquestioned loyalty, if not really thought about, can lead to demise.