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Dodes'ka-den (1970)

Dodesukaden (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 17 October 1974 (USA)
Various tales in the lives of Tokyo slum dwellers, including a mentally deficient young man obsessed with driving his own commuter trolley.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins. See more awards »
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Yoshitaka Zushi ...
Kin Sugai ...
Toshiyuki Tonomura ...
Taro Sawagami
Shinsuke Minami ...
Ryotaro Sawagami
Yûko Kusunoki ...
Misao Sawagami
Junzaburô Ban ...
Yukichi Shima
Kiyoko Tange ...
Mrs. Shima
Michio Hino ...
Mr. Ikawa
Keiji Furuyama ...
Mr. Matsui
Tappei Shimokawa ...
Mr. Nomoto
Hatsutaro Kawaguchi
Yoshie Kawaguchi
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Hideko Okiyama ...
Tatsu Masuda
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Kyota Watanaka


Episodes from the lives of a group of Tokyo slum-dwellers: Rokkuchan, an intellectually disabled boy who brings meaning and routine to his life by driving an imaginary streetcar; children who support their parents by scrounging or by tedious and ill-paying endeavours; schemers who plot or dream of escaping the shackles of poverty. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 October 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dodes'ka-den  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


His portrayal of the beggar was Noboru Mitani's first film role in a career that continues to be active after more than 60 feature films and over 35 years. See more »


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Okabe: You mean suicide?
[she nods yes]
Okabe: But, why did you have to do that to me, then?
Katsuko Watanaka: I don't know how to say this right. I don't exactly remember... what it was like. Only, when I thought of killing myself, I was afraid you would forget me. I thought... you would forget me soon after I died. I was so scared. So scared. I ...
See more »


Referenced in American Beauty (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

Tiresome and incoherent
12 July 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Let me start by saying I am a big fan of Japanese cinema generally and of Kurosawa specifically. I've seen many of Kurosawa's movies but for quite some time I resisted Dodes'ka-den. Based on the first half of the movie, my hesitancy about seeing it was well founded. I cannot comment on the whole movie because I became intensely frustrated and walked out around the midpoint.

Dodes'ka-den shows people living in a junkyard somewhere in Japan. The characters are all very broadly drawn with no nuance in their portrayal. In other words, they are almost pure types: There are the two laborers who get drunk every night to the dismay of their slatternly wives; the urchin living in a car with his architecture-obsessed lunatic guardian; the nasty drunk and his semi-catatonic daughter who makes artificial flowers 20 hours a day; the aggressive nut job who picks fights; the catatonic nut job who likes ripping fabric into strips; the obsessive brush-maker and his slutty wife; the teenager who thinks he's a trolley driver and his highly religious mother....All of these people are hopeless misfits and outcasts; they display their various pathologies and vices ad nauseum during the film, and it wears thin pretty damned quickly...

There is no plot; rather, the film consists of a series of vignettes of the characters being weird and/or nasty either on their own or in various combinations. The scenes alternate regularly from one person to the next and so the time passes slowly onwards. Realism isn't the point here, and there isn't a hint of narrative -- it is a fantasy, but to what purpose? The antics of the characters seem forced, mannered, repetitive and flat. There is no discernible social critique or message. I felt the movie was nearly a complete waste, much like the lives of the people it portrays.

Again, these impressions are just from the first half of Dodes'ka-den. Perhaps something happens later that rewards the endurance (or passivity) of the hapless viewer who sticks around to see how it all ends up. I felt only the vaguest stirrings of curiosity about the ending as I raced out of the theater.

If you are really patient or undemanding, or someone who wants to see absolutely every Kurosawa film, you might consider seeing Dodes'ka-den. But for those of you who have feasted on Kurosawa's earlier, better-known movies this title is likely to be a severe disappointment.

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