5.0 out of 5 stars One of Kurosawa's Best
I first saw this on TV and taped it. I was blown away by the visual beauty and terror of it all. The last story about the windmills? That is how I want my funeral. Music and joy, not tears and sadness. We all die, but it is how we live that really matters.
Published on July 9 2004 by Mr. Herman K. Sarkisian
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Visual Treat
I read & heard so much about Akira's last masterpiece. I watched his earlier offering in the form of "Ran" & many of my friends told me that "Dreams" was heaps better as it's a more personal & heart-felt works of the Director. Compounded by the fact that this is also Akira's last work, I told myself that this is a must-have collector's...
Published on Oct. 20 2003 by Ping Lim
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Visual Treat,
This review is from: Akira Kurosawa's Dreams [Subtitled] (DVD)I read & heard so much about Akira's last masterpiece. I watched his earlier offering in the form of "Ran" & many of my friends told me that "Dreams" was heaps better as it's a more personal & heart-felt works of the Director. Compounded by the fact that this is also Akira's last work, I told myself that this is a must-have collector's item. When I watched this movie, I could understand why Steven Spielberg & Martin Scorcese liked Akira's work so much for its subtle & abstracted messages that screamed out quietly "Humanity". All the short stories were beautifully taken & at times, I would gaze at them with bewilderment. At times, the scenes seemed to drag on forever but perhaps, that's Akira's intention to captivate our attention through the protracted silence with anticipation. I found the experience exhilarating & puzzling at the same time. The only downside of this movie would be that the final four short stories all talked about the same topic, about our callous nature that eventually destroyed nature & civilisation. Furthermore, I questioned Akira's idea of using the same actor for different short stories. It's quite interesting to see Martin playing the part of Van Gogh instead of directing a movie. All I can say is that watch this movie with an open-mind. For visual treat, don't miss this but if you expect a fast pace & direct movie, you would be disappointed. A definite must-see for Akira's fan!
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Kurosawa's Best,
This review is from: Akira Kurosawa's Dreams [Subtitled] (DVD)I first saw this on TV and taped it. I was blown away by the visual beauty and terror of it all. The last story about the windmills? That is how I want my funeral. Music and joy, not tears and sadness. We all die, but it is how we live that really matters.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the 10 best films of all time,
This review is from: Akira Kurosawa's Dreams [Subtitled] (DVD)This is perhaps a tough film to review because it is highly personal in nature, being composed of the dreams of its author; however, being highly personal does not mean it lacks universality, in fact quite the contrary. Akira Kurosawa is widely recognised as one of the greatest film makers of the twentieth century, i.e. in film-making history. He himself described this film - and I paraphrase from memory - as the film he had always wanted to make, his ultimate and best film. I do not believe that this is because the particular story-lines in the film were so important but because using the medium of dreams, Kurosawa was able to delve into a level of storytelling far deeper than much of his previous work and explore further subtleties of texture, nuance, psychology, colour, mood and so on. That said, the themes and stories on the surface are of interest because they evoke quintessentially Japanese pre and post war issues, also the perceptions of childhood, of adulthood, of facing death, of nostalgia. However, using the medium of a dream, Kurosawa can penetrate deep into the heart of each vignette to give us unsurpassably lovely and profound entries into the heart of particular moods, for ultimately this is what each story is: a very profound, almost sub-consciously- inhabited mood piece. Both in esoteric buddhism and Shinto, with both of which Kurosawa was culturally familiar to say the least, moods can be regarded as the gateway into the central channel of enlightenment; in other words, rather than avoid feelings and passions in order to engender peace or purity, instead you dive into their turbulent waves to thereby enter the deeper, silent ocean of awareness beneath. This he does beautifully with each piece, and in fact once you connect with this dynamic, many of the stories lay open to fuller enjoyment, like a main course served up at a banquet. In nearly every piece there is an encounter with a world beyond the immediately perceived one, and yet linked in feeling, in mood, in terms of season, colour, surrounding, context and so on. And then the 'deity' of that particular landscape or situation emerges, either as the gods and goddesses of the peach tree orchard, the foxes in the forest, van Gogh, the ice storm deities or whatever, the deity being the quintessential expression of the mood freed from any burdens of being bound to everyday normalcy, function or timeframe - a pure expression. In essence, this film is a study - or teaching - in the union of awareness and emotion; as such it is incredibly precise, playful, artistic and profound. I urge anyone who has not seen it to do so. It is unquestionably one of the greatest masterpieces of cinematic art in history and will remain so for centuries, I suspect, long after many others have faded from memory.
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful,
This review is from: Akira Kurosawa's Dreams [Subtitled] (DVD)In just eight "dreams," Akira Kurosawa managed to capture my attention and, most importantly, my heart. These many stories, some on the personal level individually and some on the personal level culturally, continue to evoke thought and emotion the whole way.
Amazingly, I can see these dreams in sections themselves. The first two, "Sunshine Through the Rain" and "The Peach Orchard" both involve a young Kurosawa (we can assume). While "Sunshine" may take a dark and very depressing turn, "Orchard" offers some hope in its symbolic ending of the lone orchard and the young boy going after the girl.
The third dream, "The Blizzard," seemed at first to me like a story all its own, but the book "The Films of Akira Kurosawa," by Donald Richie, explains it as the tale of an "adolescent Kurosawa," although I would prefer to guess it as a fictional "mountain man Kurosawa" as the next tale offers a fictional "officer Kurosawa." (again, to quote Richie) Lost in a snow storm, the adolescent Kurosawa sees a "yuki-onna," or snow-woman, who warms him until the storm lifts and it reveals their camp. When I first saw this tale I thought it was the slowest thing I had ever seen, but the second time it was far more fascinating. The sound affects are well done, and the shots of the pure white blizzard and dark shapes of the four struggling men became beautiful in a haunting manner. And, of course, the yuki-onna was a nice touch.
The fourth dream is called "The Tunnel" and shows us an "officer Kurosawa" returning from the war. As he walks through a long tunnel he is revisited by his former comrades-in-arms...who had been lost in the war. This reflects the inner feelings of many Japanese soldiers returning from WWII, feeling as if they had failed their nation and their friends, and the agony of returning defeated with no gain in sight.
The next few films take a young adult Kurosawa in different dream-like circumstances, most often as observer. To me, these are the most fascinating ones, as the Kurosawa character in each is more of an observer, asking characters in his dream at what is happening and why. Starting with "Crows," Kurosawa actually ENTERS an Impressionist painting, heading off to meet Van Gogh in person. He continues to travel through different paintings as if they were real environments, which Kurosawa once explained in person he would often imagine himself doing when he looked upon great pieces of art. I have to confess that this sequence is a double-plus for me...not only is it done by my favorite film maker Akira Kurosawa, but Van Gogh is played by Martin Scorcese, another film maker I adore.
The next two sequences, "Mount Fuji in Red" and "The Weeping Demon" portray nightmares about a Japan that might be. The first is a more possible story about a nuclear fallout of Japan's nuclear power plants - which causes Mount Fuji to erupt and howl like an awakened god. Some consider this as nothing more than another anti-nuclear sentiment from Japan, but I believe it to be instead a classic Japanese nightmare of a horrible event happening on their island and they have no where to run to - a similar type of story was done in a 1960's about Japan sinking into the sea and no one offering any aide to the survivors. "Demon" tells the story of Japan after a nuclear war, combining apocalyptic storytelling with Japanese legend. The Kurosawa character comes across a deformed man with one horn, called an oni but in actuality a victim of radiation. Society has become nothing but demons who eat each other based on a class system, but every night howling in pain caused by their horns. The shot of the entire oni race howling and walking about as humanity's doomed future is perhaps one of the most frightening shots I've seen on film.
The final dream, "Village of the Watermills," is actually fairly positive after the last two. Kurosawa comes across a village of primitive people and has a chat with an old man fixing a new watermill. Much of it is the old man's philosophy on life and how society is going, including the efforts of science and technology.
While this film may not have the narrative storyline or be fast-paced enough for some, I have found this film to be very meditative. Some images, including the blizzard as well as the dance of the dolls, can be very hypnotic, and by the end of the film I even found myself watching during the credits to observe the plants in the water. Obviously this was a very personal work, but it is also a very moving one at that. It was also meditative in sense of emotion, for I feel so many different things watching this: I feel sadness in "Sunshine," I feel sentimental in "Tunnel," I feel horrified in "Demon," and hopeful in "Village." In being personal with himself, Kurosawa has made this film personal for the viewer. I am not Japanese, and I don't pretend to be, but I am also human - and human sentiment is what this film is all about.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best foreign films ever...,
This review is from: Akira Kurosawa's Dreams [Subtitled] (DVD)This has to be one of the best foreign films that I have ever seen in my life. Kurosawa made a magical film that will stay with me forever. I will never forget "Sunshine Through the Rain" or "Crows". I loved these two the most. Some of it is almost Lynchian in the way that dream logic is used, but of course, this IS a film about dreams so that is to be expected. Martin Scorsese even has a cameo where he plays Vincent Van Gogh, and he's not all that bad. All in all, I loved this film.
I will be adding it to my collection very soon.
5.0 out of 5 stars A look inside Kurosawa,
This review is from: Akira Kurosawa's Dreams [Subtitled] (DVD)To the average movieviewer, Dreams would seem like it was created by a completely insane person. Who knows, maybe Kurosawa was going crazy during the end of his career. Even so, he still had something to say from this movie, despite many of the disturbing scenes and confusing moments. This film is an over-exageration regarding the many problems, and positive aspects, of the human race. With contrasting settings and open expression, I believe that no other work by Kurosawa has been this personal. Moreover, it has to be his best film later in his career, right next to Red Beard. Despite other unsuccessful films, (Ex. Do Des Ka Den) Dreams is Kurosawa's last stand at making such an emotional and valuable film. My hat is off to this master who is no longer with us.
5.0 out of 5 stars A circle of life--his own and everyone's,
This review is from: Akira Kurosawa's Dreams [Subtitled] (DVD)Kurosawa's Dreams consists of all his worries about the world and human beings. Since it's one of his last works, his mentality of filming "the Dreams" differed from films such as Seven Samurai in the zenith of his filming career. Instead of presenting the fierce fighting scenes, which he had excelled in, he put more effort into the internalized understandings of human beings, expressing naivete, confusions, struggle, losses, enthusiasm, despair, anger, fear and ultimately internal tranquility¡ªthe natural way of life. It is like a life circle.
If you look at Kurosawa's life, these dreams actually imply his own mentalities from childhood and youth to old. The young artist in the movie, who experienced the Crows, Mount Fuji in Red, the Weeping Ghost, and the Village of the Watermills, is himself. As a young man, Kurosawa majored in Western Art, and was greatly influenced and fascinated by Western artists such as Van go. His obsession with art at that time is obvious as "he" was running through the Van go's works. When I was watching the Crow, I was amazed by the setting of the scenes and his capability of shooting, making every aspect look exactly like Van go's work! Kurosawa is a truly versatile director, surely among the rare ones that have such grounded foundation in fine arts. Comparably, he is not as versed in music as in art. I'm especially amazed by his nuanced choices of color in his colored films. (I will talk about the use of color in Ran later, hopefully.) During the precarious time in Japanese history with wars and political movements, as an aspiring educated young man, who witnessed so many human disasters and stupidities, he got somewhat frustrated yet more angry. The characters in many of his "dreams" condemned the inhumanity brought by H-bombs and nuclear missiles¡ªthe big disaster took place in Japan during WW II. It reminds me of his other movie "I Live in Fear". If we look back on his earlier movies, we can see that the main string of Kurosawa's Dreams is a retrospect of ups and downs of his life as well as a summary of many topics in his other movies.
In the end, Kurosawa presents to us an ideal word, out of any form of industrialization, out of any artificial intentions and religions. The world he describes in the village of watermills, a village without a name, (since names themselves are artificial), is the world that is believed in Zen¡ªa belief that was greatly influenced by Taoism (the path) originated in China believing that human beings should live in a harmony of nature and keep of mood of harmony. "End the thinking (unnatural intention), end the pain," is commonly cited in Zen. This revelation of living life as its original form is where Kurosawa found his internal tranquility¡ªin peace. This is also a sincere advice from an experienced old man. The last scene, as the water wheels goes round and round, life goes on and on as an endless circle.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, Visual Symphony!,
This review is from: Akira Kurosawa's Dreams [Subtitled] (DVD)I love this movie, Kurosawa is such a master, so able to bring life to the screen. His fantastic use of color and placement along with the mysteries of the ancient Japanese culture make for a delightful viewing experience. Very dreamlike in its progress, this movie follows the changes of Kurosawa's dreams from youth to old age.
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece by the Master,
This review is from: Dreams (VHS Tape)The ageing creator of classics like Roshomon, Ran, The Seven Samaurai, and Throne of blood, treats us to a tour de force of directorial virtuosity. This visually stunning masterpiece consists of eight dreams with an environmental sub plot. The last of these, The Village of Watermills is one of the most moving pieces of art I have ever encountered. Everything about this film is perfect The costumes the colour balance, the forms and the music. Akira Kurasawa demonstrates why he is one of the greatest artists of all time
4.0 out of 5 stars "Image Poetry",
This review is from: Akira Kurosawa's Dreams [Subtitled] (DVD)Nuggets of beauty.
Polished marbles of untainted wide-eyed wonder.
Frank, innocent, child-like eye for beauty.
"pieces of dream" that can be stored away and held onto forever. Like wondrous capsules each containing a vivid memory. . .
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Akira Kurosawa's Dreams [Subtitled] by Ishirô Honda (DVD - 2003)