Made in 1970, this film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1972. This is Kurosawa's first color film, and there seems to be an almost psychedelic overlay to his production palette. The story revolves around a collection of characters held together only by the frayed thread of poverty. Rokkuchan (Yoshitaka Zushi), a teenager with the mind of a boy, is obsessed with trolley cars. He draws them from every angle in vivid colors. His despondent mother (Kin Sugai) hangs them lovingly on the walls and windows of their simple home.
Every morning Rokkuchan goes out to his imaginary trolley car and makes his way through the surrounding slums. His neighbors include a humble man with a terrible limp and an unforgiving wife, two couples who color-coordinate their husband-swapping, and a sad derelict man with an adoring but doomed little boy. During the day, father and son pass the time building a dream house in their minds. At night they sleep in an abandoned car.
While visually compelling, the film lacks connection between the characters, which leaves the viewer feeling disjointed and somehow lessens the emotional impact of these tragic stories. But as a slice-of-life look at how people maintain simple dignities in the face of great hardship, it is definitely a film worth seeing. --Luanne Brown
By turns tragic and transcendent, Akira Kurosawas Dodeska-den follows the daily lives of a group of people barely scraping by in a slum on the outskirts of Tokyo. Yet as desperate as their circumstances are, each of them the homeless father and son envisioning their dream house; the young woman abused by her uncle; the boy who imagines himself a trolley conductor finds reasons to carry on. Kurosawas unforgettable film was made at a tumultuous moment in his life. And all of his hopes, fears, and artistic passion are on fervent display in this, his gloriously shot first color film.