Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Akira Kurosawa (Japan, 1970)
Kurosawa’s first film in color is a stylized, experimental work produced independently on a very small budget, necessitating a number of economies that contribute to the personal feeling of the piece as a whole. For example, Kurosawa himself not only designed but painted the sets. Mixing reality and fantasy, Kurosawa weaves together the lives of a group of Tokyo slum dwellers; in its semi-allegorical narrative, the film offers an impassioned affirmation of life and of the human ability to overcome adversity through hope and dreams. Dodes’ka-den may strike some as simplistic and naively apolitical in its social optimism, but there is no doubting its author’s sincerity, or the creative imagination underlying the film’s stunningly colorful surface.
• Written by Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, Shinobu Hashimoto. Photographed by Takao Saito. With Yoshitaka Zushi, Kin Sugai, Junzaburo Ban, Kiyoko Tange. (144 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From Janus/Criterion Collection)