Following World War II, a retired professor approaching his autumn years finds his quality of life drastically reduced in war-torn Tokyo. Denying despair, he pursues writing and celebrates his birthday with his adoring students.
This is essentially eight separate short films, though with some overlaps in terms of characters and thematic material - chiefly that of man's relationship with his environment. 'Sunshine Through The Rain': a young boy is told not to go out on the day when both weather conditions occur, because that's when the foxes hold their wedding procession, which could have fatal consequences for those who witness it. 'The Peach Orchard': the same young boy encounters the spirits of the peach trees that have been cut down by heartless humans. 'The Blizzard': a team of mountaineers are saved from a blizzard by spiritual intervention. 'The Tunnel': a man encounters the ghosts of an army platoon, whose deaths he was responsible for. 'Crows': an art student encounters 'Vincent Van Gogh' and enters the world of his paintings. 'Mount Fuji in Red': nuclear meltdown threatens the devastation of Japan. 'The Weeping Demon': a portrait of a post-nuclear world populated by human mutations. 'Village of the ... Written by
Michael Brooke <email@example.com>
A series of subconscious peregrinations is not new to the world of cinema. The list is endless when talking about movie plots occurring in dreams. Too often, viewers become so engrossed and thrilled only to find out in the end that “it was all but a dream”. Yet, Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams (Yume) was more of diverting the normal-dream-occurrence-escapade into something worth analyzing and comprehending. It was more of the cinematography rather than the dialog, though there were a number of striking lines worth pondering. Cinematography speaks for the movie itself.
Dreams have woven together the stories of people from different generations. The first two stories Sunshine through the Rain and the Peach Orchard focuses on the little boy (though the 2nd story is not a sequel of the first)—directly telling viewers about childhood. Kurosawa interprets childhood as a period of uncertainty, where one is bound to obedience and is often overcome by innocence and free will.
For those who are not open-minded, Sunshine through the Rain may seem like a showcase of lopsidedness (the mother actually putting more weight on beliefs rather than protecting her own child). The power that culture carries is almost always unstoppable.
The obvious choreography of the foxes was both entertaining and interesting. Entertaining because they look like “out of this world beings” who can’t do anything to straighten their lives. Amazing and interesting because such organization is peculiar for creatures like them.
Peach Orchard on the other hand, tells us about child’s innocence. How hard the boy explained to the imperial spirits that he tried to stop destruction. The story was also about metamorphosis—how a simple and ordinary scenario can turn into something spectacular and extraordinary. Likewise, it tells us about man’s destructive nature and how such abusive act brought so much suffering to the boy. Yes, childhood of uncertainty but this period is also the moment when values are shaped, stain-free, pure and untouched.
For the first two stories, Kurosawa magnificently presented childhood, a stage where thoughts are initially shaped, learnings are taught bit by bit and values are molded.
The next two (The Blizzard and the Tunnel) tackled Kurosawa’s struggle with the self, when an individual seeks his individuality. But such searching happens tumultuously.
When all else fails, one has the tendency to give up and let things be. And just when things get all the worse, you suddenly find the strength to survive.
The Blizzard’s atmosphere was good but I find the scene where the other mountain climbers got up after the storm absurd. Yet I commend the climber who never gave up to his frozen exhaustion.
The most effective story was The Tunnel. Astonishingly, Kurosawa has shown that memories of the past could never be hidden even though it may appear to be forgotten. The Tunnel expresses feelings, memories in retrospect. One cannot be ostentatious—pretending to know nothing or as if nothing happened. “Time cannot ease the pain of old wounds, instead the scars it leaves continues to be seen and serves as a reminder of what has transcribed.”
But I was totally dumbfounded when the dead soldiers obeyed their superior. It was both heartwarming and nerve-breaking.
A major shift happened on the fifth segment Crows. For the previous two movies, the atmosphere has been hazy, cold depicting emotional struggles. With Crows, it was finding one self in solitude, learning from experienced people. Virtually stimulating, Crows invites viewers to get to know Van Gogh’s paintings, as the young Japanese artist likewise “invaded” the world of Van Gogh’s paintings.
As one travels through the sands of time, one also discovers his true self.
As the film moves on, Kurosawa evidently led viewers to a more mature stage. After childhood (Sunshine through the Rain and Peach Orchard), adolescence towards the path of seeking our individuality, to a peaceful self-realization (Crows. Towards the end of the film, Kurosawa introduced man’s role to society. That after finding one’s self, an individual can now relate himself to the society.
Mount Fiji in Red, the Weeping Demon, and the Village of Watermills were all environmentally inclined. It appears succinct that environment is important; yet if one takes more plodding work, one realizes that merely saying how important environment is is truly different from experiencing that importance. As a metascience fiction of visualization of the end of the world, it awakens feelings of guilt and fear.
“Flowers are crippled,” is a very striking statement in The Weeping Demon. It tells viewers how environmental pollution can destroy everything. Among the eight films, I found the title of this segment ironical but appropriate. I’ve never heard of a demon weeping since all I can reckon is a laughing and chuckling one.
Village of the Watermills significantly features a Utopian place, a place where man blends harmoniously with the environment.
Actors of Dreams portrayed roles well although for some segment I found certain dialogues inappropriate and some actors needed more practice. But as a whole Dreams was a movie which invites viewers to dig deeper, to fathom the real meaning of each dream, understanding them both with the mind and the heart. Dreams, a movie which allows viewers to think and analyze more. In the end, all the efforts were rewarded.
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