Dreams of Akira Kurosawa
I visited by friend to get some DVD’s as I was very bored and wanted to watch a film , he tells me that he has the DVD of the movie DREAMS. I jump with joy thinking that it is Ingmar Bergman’s Dreams (1955) (I feel that I am the biggest fan of Ingmar Bergman).To my disappointment It turns out to be Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams (1990).
I asked some of my online friends about their opinion about Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams before playing it in my DVD player. One of my friends says that “don’t expect it to be THE DEKALOG “, another friend says that this is one of the worst film made by Akira Kurosawa and another guy says that “If you make a guy watch this film who has never watched an Akira Kurosawa film, I bet he will never watch another film of Akira Kurosawa”.
After receiving such type of feedback it looks like I am going to encounter Mission Impossible. It is said that all the dreams which are shown in the film are actual dreams of the film’s director, Akira Kurosawa at different stages of his life. I insert the DVD into the player and now I am prepared to watch Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams.
The movie starts with ‘Once I had a dream……’
Sunshine through the Rain
This is the first dream of Mr. Akira Kurosawa in which the first scene of the film there a house and it’s raining, it reminded me of Kurosawa’s masterpiece ‘Rashomon’. The boy’s mother tells not to leave the house as when the sun is shining through the rain, the foxes have their weddings and foxes do not like their wedding to be seen by humans, but our hero (the boy) leaves the house and witnesses a wedding procession, actually the wedding procession is done by humans with their faces painted white and who have mustache like that of fox (With the help of that mustache clue we need to that what the boy witnessed is a wedding procession of the foxes). Unfortunately, the boy is spotted by the foxes and runs towards his house. The boy’s mother does not allow him to enter into the house saying that a fox had come by the house, leaving behind a knife . The mother gives an awkward advice to his son asking him to go and ask for the forgiveness . The son gives a clever reply “But I don’t know where they live.” The mother gives the address by saying “Foxes live under the rainbows.” The boy sets off to into the mountains in search of the Rainbow and he finally finds it.
‘Another Dream …’
The Peach Orchard
The second dream of Mr. Akira Kurosawa is also about a boy who follows a mysterious girl and eventually ends in a treeless orchard,he recollects that the treeless orchard is similar to the decoration of his sister’s doll collection .The trees of the orchard are cut down by his family and boy feels a sense of loss during this year’s festival.In this dream the boy has some emotional conversation with the peach trees and their pink blossoms. The boy becomes so emotional that he cries and tells that he is innocent ,as a favour they agree to give him one last glance at the peach trees. Even here the faces of representatives of the peach trees are painted white.The last scene of this dream is freezed,seems like Akira Kurosawa is inspired from Kubrik’s BARRY LYNDON.
‘Another Dream …’
The third dream of Mr. Akira Kurosawa is slightly different from the previous dreams and here there are no boys instead we have four mountaineers here. The mountain which these guys are climbing is encountered with snow storm (is there any such mountain in Japan?…).The 3 mountaineers fell sick and stop proceeding forward thinking that they are going to die and only one mountaineer has the courage to move forward and obviously he the protagonist of this dream ,but even the hero of our dream is unable to move forward and interestingly he is encountered with a beautiful women who tries to stop him and crush his courage.I found that beautiful women is actually a spirit of Japanese literature who sometimes been described as evil , I learned that this spirit is often portrayed as a nude women ,here we can conclude that Akira Kurosawa lacks the audacity of Zack Snyder who showed Kelly Craig in a similar role in the film 300. At last the Snow Storm stops and as the protagonist opens his eyes he sees that their camp is just few steps away from where they have stopped. A relatively happy ending in comparison with the previous deams. Jai Ho !
‘Another Dream …’
A Japanese army officer who is traveling by his feet comes across a Tunnel which is filled with darkness. Suddenly a dog (I think its German Shepherd ) comes from the tunnel and snarls at him. The army officer continues his jouney into the tunnel and when he comes to the other side of the tunnel he senses that someone walking behind him and he finds that the man is a soldier who is dead in the war belongs to his platoon. After some conversations with the dead soldier the officer is frightened ,the soldier goes back into the dark tunnel and comes with a fleet of soldiers(What an act of sweet Vengeance!) but the hero in this dream (Army officer) is successful by sending the whole troop of soldiers back into the drak tunnel.
‘Another Dream …’
This is my favorite dream of Akira Kurosawa and the reason for this being my favorite dream will be answered very soon. An art student looks through different paintings in a Art gallery and then the art student is in the search of the famous artist Vincent Van Gogh. The art student finds Vincent Van Gogh who is in a disturbed state of mind. I was a bit comfortable watching this dream as most of it was in English and did not feel the pain of reading the subtitles. Vincent Van Gogh talks some bullshit with that art student. Later we come to know that Vincent Van Gogh has lost his left ear and he is in the search of something which is very hard to predict and finally he disappears into the wheat fields and then the CROWS start flying as the dream is titled as ‘Crows’.Coming to the question of ‘why this is my favorite dream?’ . The character of Vincent Van Gogh is played by ‘Martin Scorsese’ and this is the best cameo of Martin Scorsese.
‘Another Dream …’
Mount Fuji in Red
A large nuclear power plant near Mount Fuji has begun to melt down and all the six reactors are exploding one by one.The whole sky is in Red and the people of Japan are fleeing into the ocean to save their lives.The only people left on the land are three adults and two children and all the others jumped into the ocean.Out of those three adults one of them is a scientist who is responsible for Nuclear Technology and accepts that it is the scientists fault that caused this horrific incident. The Scientist says that all are going to die with the radio activity and there is no way to escape, before dying the scientist improves our General knowledge and Scientific knowledge,he says that Japan is too small and very hard to escape,he describes about different colors emitted from the radio activity, Plutonium-239’s 10000000th of a gram causes ‘Cancer’.
‘Another Dream …’
The Weeping Demon
The title of this dream made me laugh as it reminded me of ‘Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life’ and the Demon looks similar to the ‘Keeper of the Bridge of Death’ who asks 3 Questions in ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’. In this dream a man is wandering in murky mountains and suddenly he finds a Demon,at the first look he is frightened by seeing the demon but after sometime they talk candidly,share opinions,climb mountains,etc… The Demon explains about the Nuclear disaster which took place and the result of it is the huge Dandelions and humans sprouting horns,etc.. We also witness the crying of those Demons because of the pain caused by their horns.
‘Another Dream …’
Village of the Watermills
A young man enters into a village and is impressed by its natural beauty.He sees the Water Mills,children plucking flowers and placing near a stone and meets an old man in a village who is repairing the wheel of the Water Mill. The old man tells us many things, to use candles and Linseed oil instead of electric bulbs,not to use tractors to cultivate fields and tells us to use Horses and cows. The young asks a tricky question ‘What do you use for fuel?’ The old man gives a very clever answer ‘Firewood mostly(The young man might have thought that he caught the old man but..)We don’t feel right, chopping down trees, but enough fall by themselves .We cut them and use them as firewood.’The villagers celebrate death and the old man is attending the funeral of 99 year old who was his first love and by the way the age of the old man is 103 years.
I hope everyone would forgive my sarcastic approach towards this article.I have some strong reasons to be sarcastic, for me Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams is a great movie,it may not be a masterpiece but the enormous amount of artistic content involved , the message which Akira Kurosawa tries to convey to the audience , the visual vibrancy ,the Cinematography, the small characters makes DREAMS a great film to me.This film might be kept under different genres like ‘Magic Realism’,’Neo Realism’ etc.. but it captures the message perfectly .After a lot of contemplation through my inner dimensions of my mind I decided to go with the sarcastic approach, because I feel that many critics have ignored this film without looking into the finer artistic approach of Akira Kurosawa.
There are some wonderful artistic elements in each dream .Most of the dreams are interconnected. I am mentioning some of artistic elements and I have many unanswered questions too.
- The Rainbow is the key to the first dream .It involves curiosity of the boy,search of the rainbow etc..
- The second dreams shows the loss,beauty of nature, the dolls are the key in this dream.
- The aspect of death,courage,fear are shown in the third dream.The character of the spirit is the crucial one.
- This dream too portrays death,fear,war,power,redemption and regret.The Dark tunnel,the red light,the dog add too the artistic flavor.
- The painting of Vincent Van Vough’s are itself are a riddle.The crows,the missing ear are the key to this dream.
- In the ‘Mount Fuji in Red’ dream Akira Kurosawa directly talks about the harmful affects of Nuclear Weapons and the end of mankind.
- In the seventh dream Akira Kurosawa show the horrific,tragic life of Demons affected the Nuclear holocaust by which he makes a very emotional statement.
- After the horrific previous dream Akira Kurosawa shows us the beauty of Nature and says that even death can be a moment of celebration.
Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams may not be as great as Kieslowski’s ‘THE DEKALOG’ and all the dreams may not be actually of me Akira Kurosawa , it is not as great as the ‘Seven Samurai’ or ‘Rashomon’ but every dream of Akira Kurosawa is perfect and suits the contemporary world.
Originally published on passionforcinema.com