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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 Blizzard

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 …’

The Tunnel

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 …’

Crows

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.

Key Aspects:

  • 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

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Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon is one of the great movies ever made because of numerous reasons .I always wanted to write something on BARRY LYNDON but did not dare to write because I felt that it’s hard to write an article on BARRY LYNDON by providing justice to its greatness but now I decided to write a article on BARRY LYNDON because of one of the comment made on BARRY LYNDON referring to an article – “We can watch the 2nd CD of Barry Lyndon without watching the 2nd CD”.

PART1-By what means Redmond Barry Acquired the style and title of Barry Lyndon.

The caption of Part1 might give us the hint that Redmond Barry’s rise to the title BARRY LYNDON. The first scene of the first part is the long shot with a beautiful background which shows us the death of Redmond Barry’s father. After the death of his father Redmond Barry is grown under his mother. Barry’s cousin Nora Brady makes Barry fall in love with her by seducing him with her intelligent tactics but Nora Brady is more inclined towards English Captain John Quin because of the lust of wealth which the English Captain carries.In an attempt to stop Nora Brady getting married to Captain John Quin, Barry arranges a duel with the captain in which Barry kills Captain John Quin. In order to survive his life Barry escapes by leaving his mother. Later in his journey he is robbed by a highwayman leaving with no money.and with no money left with him he eventually decides to join the English Army where he has to face some difficulties. Attributed by his luck Redmond Barry escapes the War by disguising as a war courier and he continues his aimless journey. In the journey he meets women called Lischen whose husband is away fighting. Barry develops a relationship with Lischen and lives with her for some days, but he has to leave Lischen as he has to resume his journey.

Barry encounters a Prussian captain, Potzdorf, who sees through his disguise. Given the choice of joining the Prussian army or being taken for a deserter, Barry chooses to join in his second army. During one battle, he saves Potzdorf’s life. Barry is employed by the Prussian Minister of Police, Potzdorf’s uncle. It is arranged for him to become the servant of the Chevalier de Balibari, a professional gambler. The Prussians suspect that he is a spy and Barry is assigned to try to determine if he is. However, when Barry finds out the chevalier is a fellow Irishman, he confesses all to him and they become confederates and Barry finds a perfect guardian.Redmond Barry decides to get married, he finds the beautiful and wealthy Countess of Lyndon, she is married to Sir Charles Lyndon who is near to his death and has a son.

PART2-Containing an account of the misfortunes and disasters which befell Barry Lyndon.

Ultimately Barry successfully plays his tricks and gets married to Lady Lyndon and finally called as BARRY LYNDON but as he does not have true love towards his wife and leads an unfaithful life which leads to an unhappy marriage.

Bullingdon never likes his step father and Barry always beats him to posses his control over his step son. Barry brings his mother over from Ireland to live with him and she advises him to him to obtain a noble title to protect the wealth so that it does not slip to his step son Lord Bullingdon. Lord Bullingdon announces his hatred of his stepfather and is beaten by Barry in front of many important guests. Bullingdon leaves the family estate after this.Barry’s public cruelty loses him all the powerful friends he has worked so hard to make and he is shunned socially. Barry and his wife have a son Bryan Patrick. Barry loves his son very much but he had to face the tragic death of his son.

After the death of his son Barry turns to drink, while Lady Lyndon seeks solace from religion, assisted by the Reverend Samuel Runt, tutor first to Lord Bullingdon and then to Bryan. Barry’s mother dismisses Reverend Runt partly because they no longer need a tutor; partly for fear that his influence is only making Lady Lyndon worse. Plunging even deeper into grief, she attempts suicide. Upon hearing of this, Lord Bullingdon returns and challenges Barry to a duel.In the unfortunate Duel Barry loses his right leg. Bullingdon takes control of the estateand offers his stepfather an annuity of 500 guineas if he leaves England. Barry Lyndon never sees Lady Lyndon again. Barry Lyndon resumes his former profession of a gambler, but without his former success.

Analysis of PART1.

The first part of BARRY LYNDON does not give Barry a good life or even a decent life but instead it gives him many twists and turns which would lead him to his aimless destiny.
The opening scene itself is a sad one where the father of Redmond Barry is dead and after he is grown by looking at his mother without a husband. He is deceived by his cousin and fails in his first true love. He is deceived in a duel with the English Captain. He is robbed by a highwayman making his living hard. When Barry joins the English Army he has to face seven years of war and with some luck he escapes the war and when he resumes the journey he find true love in Lischen but he had to leave the true love which he has found. Later due to his misfortunes he had to get admitted into the other army where he does not have a good life.

Analysis of PART2.

The PART2 of BARRY LYNDON shows the fall of BARRY LYNDON. Barry was never successful to get his step son’s gratitude, he loses his loving son, and he had the fear of losing the wealth, he lost his well wishers and friends due to his misbehavior.Barry had to face a duel from his son in which he loses his leg and the wealth for which he married Lady Lyndon. He had to satisfy himself with 500 guineas by leaving to England and he never had the luck which he used to have in Gambling.Kubrick stops the frame and freezes it for few seconds givging a symbolic impression to the character.

My views on BARRY LYNDON

If we observe closely Barry never had the luck, in fact he was always followed by misfortunes. Throughout his life he was never lucky, he just saw the face of luck but the luck did not really accept Redmond Barry. Keeping aside the good look he was always mixed with bad luck. He lost first love with his cousin and later when he finds true love he had to leave that and when he finds wealth in his wife he could not get it and eventually he had satisfy with only one leg.The narration of BARRY LYNDON is excellent; the voice of the narrator is filled with melancholy. We know the fate of Barry Lyndon and its going to be a tragic one but we are not captured by the tragic idea of its ending but Stanley Kubrick makes us intrigued with his wonderful direction.

Kubrick once said “Barry Lyndon is a story which does not depend upon surprise. What is important is not what is going to happen, but how it will happen.

The Photography of BARRY LYNDON is impeccable; we can’t find a scene where one can say that “It could be better”. The Landscapes, War, Candle Lighting, etc… are a treat to watch. BARRY LYNDON is a film which is purely made to Celluloid itself, sometimes I feel that the film totally ignores the viewer and leaps into its own beautiful world. Stanley Kubrick made BARRY LYNDON in such a way that it embraces the screen without any compromise.
It’s really hard to tell the greatness of Barry Lyndon but some feel that it is just a boring film with good visuals. Trying to understand BARRY LYNDON is not an easy thing and not a hard thing too but when you understand the exact flavors of BARRY LYNDON you will definitely feel that BARRY LYNDON is one of the best movies ever made. BARRY LYNDON is the best work of Stanley Kubrick and one of the finest period films which we cannot see for many years. It’s not only I who feel that BARRY LYNDON is Kubrick’s best even Martin Scorsese has the same thought.

Originally published on Passionforcinema.com