Stray Dog (1949), Kurosawa’s ninth film, is generally considered his first masterpiece, or at least the first for which the term can be reasonably argued. And no wonder. All the elements that would distinguish his later work are in place. There’s the epic sweep, in which a very personal story focusing on a troubled individual(s) is told against a grand background, in this case the panorama of a defeated and humiliated occupied Japan. Dostoyevskian themes and motifs humanism, class conflict, masculine pain and guilt, doppelgangers abound.