Dreams (1990) Poster

(1990)

User Reviews

Review this title
130 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
10/10
A way of life
stigkardat3 March 2004
I am not inclined to post my opinion on web pages. In fact, this is the first time that I feel compelled to let my words be heard on the web. However, having read from other users that "Yume" is "a waste of time" and "too personal" to be enjoyed, I was so disappointed that I felt the right time to speak up had come.

I am the first one to agree that this is not a film for everyone. It is actually far from that. Alas, in this world where the vastest majority of people feel that the necessary and sufficient condition for a film to be good is to have as much special effects as possible, "Yume" sadly faces no other fate than to be overlooked by almost everybody.

It is those few people that might consider watching this film that have the opportunity to appreciate its full greatness. There are still many hurdles on the way, though. For many Western people, including myself, the fact that "Yume" orbits around Japanese legends is a big obstacle to overcome, as we are not well acquainted with their meaning. I am convinced that Kurosawa's "Dreams" conceal much of their true objective to us who are not familiar enough with the Japanese culture.

But my advice is: forget these problems. There are thousands of other details to enjoy. From just a cinematographic point of view, Kurosawa's mastery of colour is unrivaled, and a sound reason to watch this film, yet not the only one by far. The true value of "Yume", in my opinion, is the use of the parabolas presented disguised as dreams to teach us a way of life. The absurdity of war. The beauty of nature. The need to preserve our environment. In summary: a praise to life. And yet, Kurosawa being old himself when he filmed his "Dreams", looks at death and presents it as the last station of a wonderful journey. Carpe diem, yes, but not to the point of being scared. Life will follow its course as does the river at the end of the movie, with or without us being here to enjoy it. Just be thankful for the small things in life; they are the most important. Enjoy them while you can and you will leave this existence in peace with yourself.

"Yume" is one of these small, humble things, so humble that it can be overlooked by many. It would be a waste. Don't let this happen to you. You would miss a true masterpiece. You would miss Kurosawa's way of life.
109 out of 122 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Beautifully made and achieved
mariafefauk27 July 2005
I was pleasantly surprised with dreams, not only in terms of content but also aesthetically. There are very few films that manage to embody personal, local and global concerns as Akira Kurosava has managed in this production. There are so many underlying topics that it is difficult to concentrate in just a few for the purpose of this review, but I believe it is fair to say that Dreams portrays our individual and collective dreams and nightmares, reflecting that sometimes what we dream of today is what will keep us awake tomorrow. A nice range of representations of concerns from the deepest and most personal childhood worries and fantasies to the more complex issues of mental illness, extreme ambition, destruction of our environment and death. In all I recommend this film to anyone who has the chance to see it, It is possible that Dreams may not appeal to a mainstream audience in terms of content because there is a lot of symbolism and critical engagement but the photography and sceneries are for sure something that should not go amiss for anyone. If you get the chance it is truly worth giving it your time, a fantastic experience.
33 out of 38 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
So I'm not the only one with weird dreams
unbend_54404 April 2004
Going back to what made Akira Kurosawa a star, Dreams is a film driven by a completely original concept. Like Rashomon, this is something that had never been done before. To my knowledge, nobody since has had the skill or guts to make a movie that accurately captures the spirit of........ bizarre Dreams. These stories are filmed and written just like real dreams. They're full of strange events that most of the time make no sense, yet everyone in the story totally believes it to be normal.

My favourite segments are "The Tunnel", as story where a former military commander encounters the ghosts of all the soldiers who died under his command. The Commander explaining why his soldiers died is hands down the best acting in the movie. My second favourite wold be "The Peach Orchard". This is about a young boy that finds a group of living dolls in the fields. The dolls are furious that the boy's family have destroyed all the peach tress in the Orchard. This segment was the most dreamlike. My third favourite would be "Mount Fuji In Red". In that there is a nuclear meltdown. Panic spreads and a few survivors contemplate whether or not to end their lives.

In traditional Kurosawa fashion, this movie is visually breathtaking. Kurosawa films don't just look great, they look unique and interesting. The visuals in Dreams helps create the hypnotic dream-like state. In the "Crows" story, a man enters the world of a Van Gogh painting. Parts of the scenery here are natural landscapes, and parts are made to look like a painting. In "Blizzard" mountain climbers are on the verge of death. They're rescued by a snow spirit. The blinding snow and the sort of slow motion effect when you see the Snow Fairy makes this segment perhaps the most hypnotic images Kurosawa has ever produced.

I wouldn't want anyone to get the idea that this is just a bunch of unconnected segments. Several characters appear in various segments, and some are meant to play back to back. I have to say that Dreams may not be for everyone. I'd recommend everyone alive check it out, though. Some may love it, some may not understand it. I'm on the side of this being one of the last brilliant works of the World's greatest Director.
41 out of 50 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Beautiful
plumberguy6628 March 2002
Truly one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. I saw this film for the first time in 1993 and it was placed forever in my mind as one of my greatest cinematic experiences. I agree with what another reviewer said about this film, that it is not for everyone. It is very artistic in that the cinematography carries a lot of the story and some may become bored with it. Hollywood has a way of brainwashing a lot of viewers into needing a lot of dialog or action. If that's what you're after, you wont find it here. You have to use your brain for this one. This movie is Japanese and what little dialog there is, is in subtitled for the American viewer. So you may need to do a little reading. This is not simply a movie; it is several short, amazing stories that stem from the mind of Akira Kurosawa (a genius in my book). One is like a beautiful fairytale and another is a nightmarish fable and still another is a terribly haunting ghost story, there are others but all are done very well. This film needs to be seen in the letterbox format as it was intended. The cinematography, as I said earlier, contributes so much that it should be viewed completely. I really don't know what else to say about this movie except that if you have an artistic streak and like to see how movies can become art I would highly recommend Yume (Dreams).
54 out of 70 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Living is exciting
MrBiddle16 October 2004
Akira Kurosawa's insights on man's need to harmonize with nature, the costs of war and the bad fruits that nuclear power can bear. This is the first Kurosawa movie I have seen, but I can see how true it is that Kurosawa is a master of creating atmosphere in a film. Such as the dark, post-nuclear apocalyptic world of THE WEEPING DEMON. Or the very first episode when the little boy sees something he is not supposed to see in the forest.

I found THE BLIZZARD rather strange, and you'll see a scary part when the mountainman is having his mirage of the beautiful woman who symbolizes the snowstorm. I'm not sure what the significance of the dog was in THE TUNNEL, but I guess it illustrates the fact that though he was the commander of Third Platoon , he felt like a coward because of his command, his men paid the price.... yet he is guilty of still being alive; he's afraid of the dog.

It ends rather low key, but the last episode THE VILLAGE IN THE WATERMILLS is the most insightful and bold in expressing the movie's theme... of harmonizing with nature, and maybe harmonizing with ourselves.

The procession displays the unity and the communal harmony that the villagers have. And it is the exact opposite of what is grieved about in MOUNT FUJI IN RED or THE WEEPING DEMON. The cinematography is just beautiful. The movie is beautiful and captivating.

Akira Kurosawa's YUME is Grade A- 9/10
27 out of 33 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
An art film for thoughtful meditation
raymond-1510 May 2004
Most people dream but I wonder how many are rewarded with such beauty when their eyelids close and they drift into semi-consciousness. Kurosawa has collected some of his dreams and shares them with us. I don't ever remember seeing such vivid colours in my own dreams, but like Kurosawa's they are often fragmented and incomplete with a mystical quality involving spirits and the dead.

I like the peach tree scene where true repentance makes things right. Not only the peach blossom but also the kimono of the characters tiered up the hillside are most pleasing to the eye. As also is the meeting with van Gogh when his paintings with mad whirls of colour are brought to life and form part of the landscape.

Some dreams can be very frustrating when we are caught in a dangerous situation from which there is no ready means of escape. This is dramatically illustrated in the Mt. Fuji episode in which nuclear plants explode and a fog of coloured radio-active gases envelopes the characters. There is a strong message here about saving the environment. This message is also accented in the ogre scene and the peach tree scene and the water mill scene.

Some viewers might find the going slow at times. For example, the mountain climbers struggling in knee-deep snow seem to move at the rate of a few steps each minute and being encouraged by their leader to keep going as they strive to reach their camp. A mystical event occurs and in the morning when the heavy fog clears, a surprise awaits them. This feeling of striving and getting nowhere is common in dreams, at least in mine.

There is also mysticism involved in the tunnel scene where an ex-soldier meets the remainder of his platoon all of whom were killed in battle. The sound of their marching feet echoing through the empty tunnel is quite chilling.

Apart from a few dramatic moments the film is somewhat subdued. It is an art film beautifully conceived and should be reserved for one of those quiet moments when we are in a meditative mood.
24 out of 30 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
One of the most stunning film-going moments in my life
moviegoer29 January 2000
I cannot say enough about Akira Kurosawa's Dreams. It is visually stunning and creative. It is sumptuous to watch--it stretches the imagination. For people who delight in remembering their own dreams, it is a treasure. There is also a nice variety in the dreams, drawing on Asian and Western themes as well as historical and contemporary cultural commentary. My favorites involve the peach trees, Van Gogh and the waterwheels.
24 out of 30 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
A personal film from Japan's greatest director
PureCinema26 December 1998
Dreams is not a movie for everybody. To some, it may be too artsy of a film for their tastes (what are you doing watching movies then?), others may be annoyed by some of the stories not having clear messages, or leaving questions unanswered. Well, that is because Dreams is a film that was born inside of Kurosawa, and lives inside of him, it's a very personal film that not everybody will appreciate.

The movie consists of eight short stories. Most of which center around the issue of people's relationships with other elements that make up this world that we live in.

The cinematography in Dreams is breathtaking, and is the reason why some people claim that it is a film that puts "Style" above "story". I think that nobody can truly completely understand this film but Kurosawa himself. It is a product of his mind, a film that we cannot fully comprehend since we are not him. But since film is a form of art and in its truest form, a reflection of one's own self, Dreams may have just been one of Kurosawa's personal favorites in his long, amazing career.
44 out of 59 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
it's a film worth contemplating...
evert17_up31 January 2005
More than Just a Dream By Cris Evert Berdin Lato

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.
17 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Flawed but fascinating
christomacin12 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I do think this is a flawed but often brilliant film. I have a simple suggestion for how to make the film more effective by slightly rearranged the story order. You may still disagree with the environmental politics of the film, but at least Kurosawa's case is more forcefully argued this way.

I think this should be the order:

1) Sunshine Through the Rain 2) The Peach Orchard 3) The Blizzard 4) The Tunnel 5) *Mount Fuji in Red (could also be deleted altogether) 6) The Weeping Demon 7) *Crows (move this episode down two notches) 8) Village of the Watermills

Moving Mount Fuji and Weeping Demon ahead of Crows fulfills several things:

a) Simple cinematic effectiveness:

With The Tunnel the film gets gradually darker, more like nightmares than dreams. The Tunnel has an ominous ending with the barking dog. The stories that immediately following The Tunnel should explore the darker end of things rather than being followed by a lighter story like Crows, which is a mistake for dramatic reasons.

b) This also makes the film's point clearer:

The first two stories feature a young boy. As a child we have a much more innocent relationship to nature. A child might wish to penetrate nature's secrets, but does so innocently. The boy merely wanted to watch the fox wedding. He was caught looking, but meant no real harm. Even so, the boy is rejected by his mother and he is sent on a quest to seek forgiveness from the foxes. A recurring theme in this film is that interfering with nature can have serious consequences. The boy in The Peach Orchard is too young to do anything about the trees being cut down. He simply loves peaches and trees in bloom. At the end the boy realizes how terrible the consequences can be if Man acts against nature.

The following four stories #3-#6 show a fully grown adult (presumably the boy grown up?). In the Blizzard, he is struggling against nature, which he sees as threatening and hostile to him, unlike the boy's less confrontational feelings towards it. An interesting thing in The Blizzard is the ambiguity of the Snow Spirit woman. Is she trying to help the mountain climber or kill him? It is left deliberately obscure. I interpret this to mean that the forces of nature, while very beautiful, can also be deadly. We should show nature the proper respect. Next in The Tunnel, the subject is the ultimate destructive act of Mankind, war. The man claims to have sympathy for his dead troops, which they meekly accept and go back to the grave. However, the company dog is not so easy to fool. It is an animal and does not accept the rationalizations that his men do for being sent to their deaths. The dog is depicted almost as a Hell Hound on the his trail.

This is why Crows MUST NOT following The Tunnel. The Tunnel should have set up the next two stories featuring the fully grown adult. These take the idea of being at war with nature to the most hellish extreme. The dog in the Tunnel acts as an omen and a harbinger of doom which we seen in the nightmares of Mount Fuji and The Weeping Demon. The Weeping Demon is nothing less than a vision of hell on earth. Finally, the last two stories feature an older man (Van Gogh and the village elder respectively) who impart the wisdom of old age to a younger man. These men are totally in harmony with their natural surroundings. Crows plays better if it isn't sandwiched between The Tunnel and Mount Fuji and Weeping Demon. It comes across as irrelevant and lightweight in its present position in the film. FIX IT YOURSELF! Repositioning it makes it seem more effective, even if this doesn't fully address the films other weaknesses.

The village elder in the final episode has the innocence of a second childhood, tempered with a whole lifetime of experience. This is why Crows and Village of the Windmills should be paired together as the last two stories. We have gone from youthful daydreams, to the nightmares of the adult world, into a second rebirth of innocence. The Village of the Windmills is not so much a real place but rather a kind of "Heaven on Earth", the mirror opposite of the Weeping Demon's hell on earth. The Village "has no name", just like in the U2 song "Where the Streets Have No Name", which of course refers to Heaven. I think is a clue that this village is not of this world but rather the next. It is a perhaps impossible dream of total harmony with nature that Mankind can aspire to, though it may be unachievable in this world. If you look at the meaning of Village of the Windmills in this way, the ending is incredibly melancholy, as is the music on the soundtrack.

Perhaps the "dreams" referred to in this film aren't necessarily dreams Kurosawa had while he was sleeping, but his waking dreams and nightmares about Man's relationship with nature. Mount Fuji in Red is the least effective sequence precisely because it is too literal, coming across as even more preachy and didactic than the rest of the film. It feels like something out of a Godzilla movie or an Irwin Allen disaster picture. If we eliminate Mount Fuji, then one story about war follows another. The Tunnel is about World War II, and the Weeping Demon is about World War III. This makes that argument that warfare is Man's ultimate (and unnatural) way of making war against nature. This is why the company dog in The Tunnel behaves the way it does, because it sees the threat Mankind may ultimately pose to nature itself in a way the officer's dead soldiers cannot or will not.
10 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Breathtaking and mesmerizing
henrihadida14 May 2005
It is difficult to categorize Kurosawa movies in any formal sort of way. Similarly to Kubrick Kurosawa is a visionary and a complete artist. No matter what he undertakes he is relentless in his pursuit of perfection and truth of the art of film making. Visually he is the master that everyone should be inspired by. As a story teller, he layers plot and characters in the depths of emotional revelations.

Dreams is an experience in film making. More then a mere moment of film magic it is a work of art to aspire to.

Enjoy the breadth and scope of a vision translated to vibrant imagery. Of all the great directors of our time Kurosawa has yet to be fully recognized by the majority of movie goers. Dreams is a great starting point in the study of the genius of Kurosawa. Do not lose patience and indulge in his captivating world. You will not regret it.
12 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
A superb follow-up to RAN.
boris-2619 November 2001
Warning: Spoilers
After Akira Kurosawa made RAN, possibly the greatest film adaptation of a Shakespeare play, (in this case, King Lear), one wondered how this powerhouse director is going to top himself. Five years later, in 1990, he made this film, DREAMS. He didn't try for bigger, he went for more heartfelt- more personal. The resulting film will stay with you like expertly written poetry, like a masterful gallery of the best paintings. DREAMS is made up of eight dreams that Kurosawa had during his life. Some are beautiful, some are frightening nightmares. They all connect seamlessly. Is it one of the few Kurosawa films with a happy ending. (IKIRU, RASHOMON and DERSU UZALA are the only other ones I can think of. A grand film by a master film artist.
13 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Italian Dreams
tedg4 November 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

I arranged to see this as I was visiting Italy. It deepens my experience from the great filmmakers to orchestrate the context so.

Italians make a fuss over the simple pleasures. They eat like they speak, with their entire upper bodies as they caress the most direct abstractions. Their language is designed to be beautiful in itself in that easy alliterative tossing of vowels.

But those simple abstractions crowd out the more sophisticated ones as one can see in (by Mediterranean standards) absurdly blunt religion, politics, even crime and sex.

Each person must make a choice whether the simple pleasures are worth the cost of the deeper ones. It is a matter of design versus art.

Kurosawa chose the more difficult path his entire life except for a brief interlude with the Soviets and here.

Usually his films begin life as meditations on ineluctable insights, then get captured in detailed paintings. The resulting film images provide insight into the ideas, which is the thing that makes his films worth living with. `Ran' is complex and is a different film on each viewing, each one potentially lifealtering.

Not so here. Sometimes film can be personal, but that is impossible when you must have many collaborators. In order to come to some common purpose; things need to START with the visual as sort of a lowest common denominator. That's why special effects film are rarely worth the viewing.

Here, Kurosawa has scores of collaborators, so he needs to shape his film in the Italian way. That's why the fulcrum of the thing features our leading Italian-style filmmaker as an ersatz Van Gogh. (He incidentally misunderstands Van Gogh, by the way. Vincent was perhaps our most cerebral and literate painter. His absinthe addiction and porphyria gave us the first intelligent hallucinogenic art. But his intent was very conscious and deliberate, not the obsessive Italian locomotive of intuition depicted here.) But never mind, we get what he means.

In this simple, lowest common denominator, Kurosawa falls back on solidly established tradition of Japanese ghost stories, particularly the films of (???) as a short cut. Only the first one and a half story and the last deliver what makes him special beyond the genre.

Those segments are excuses for highly abstract pageants, self-referentially staged - with the watcher (nominally the filmmaker) built in. The last one is the one that sticks with you. It is amazing how often over the years I have consciously recalled that funeral procession.

That last story is perfectly ironic. A 103-year old man preaches a simple life while surrounded by waterwheels that superficially appear nature-friendly. But instead of being the primitive devices he is working on, they are made of machined lumber with excessive use of bolts. It is as if we were all in a great modern machine that we have abstracted into something that comfortably feels like nature. I'm sure that is the way it was with this elaborate studio set.

The mechanisms of those wheels is some combination of his generative imagination, Mother Nature and the gears of society.

I can hear him saying `I'm not dead yet,` like his alter ego in `Madadayo,' but with a certain resignation of a valued life lived without the simple pleasures. Bless him for his life - who among us will credit such a funeral celebration?

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
9 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
There is more in dreams
stefan-14418 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
This movie seems as if Kurosawa intended it to be his last. It has an air of testament, of final words. In a number of separate episodes, he takes us through scenes of increasing darkness, and lands in one of peace and light. Surely, he intended the obvious likeness to Dante's Divine Comedy.

WARNING: SLIGHT SPOILERS

Then, Kurosawa's Paradise is one of minimal splendor, a return to agricultural simplicity, man in harmony with nature. It's the same kind of ideal as expressed in the last verse of the Chinese book Tao The Ching. I have always suspected that ideal to be little more than a romantic illusion - a sweet dream, but boring to actually live in.

The previous episodes are much more intense and fascinating, to the extent where one has to wonder if, perchance, Kurosawa would not have preferred to end up in one of them, rather than the last one - in spite of the torment they contain.

Anyway, the film starts and ends with procession - the first a wedding, the last a funeral. In Kurosawa's Dreams, the former is threatening, and the latter joyous. I wonder why there is no birth. There are children, though, but they are in no way spared from the sorrows of the world. Sadly, that is true to life.

Less realistic is the scarce presence of women. The most prominent female character is a sort of Snow Queen, trying to kill some men lost in the mountains. "The snow is warm, the ice is hot," she says to one of them, to make him sleep. True, indeed - but a harmful warmth, a deadly heat. Still, it cannot compare to the genocide heat produced by men, later on in the movie.

These are dreams? If so, they are surprisingly barren. Not the likes of Dante's - or, I dare say, anyone else's. Dreams are complex things, and when studied closely, they open up like Pandora's box. Kurosawa's episodes are not dreams, in that sense, but mere silhouettes of them. For dreams to be revealed, they must be entered. Kurosawa seems to have kept them on a distance, taming them with his waking state.

Perhaps he had found that his dreams could not compare to what he had accomplished in his many great movies.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
I think people are not getting it,because they don't want to.
veganflimgeek12 June 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Kurasawa's DREAMS

Is there a greater director ever? Few would argue that anyone besides maybe Kubrick comes close. Dreams is the Swan song of Japan's most amazing and artistic director in the most artistic film of his long life. Known for his Samurai films and occasional noir mystery dreams is a departure because it is not a story yet eight pieces of of cinematic expression. There are no Spoilers that could ruin this film because really it is like looking at a painting.

I have read many comments where time after time people comment that this personal film was not meant to be understood by anyone but the director. Please, why would Kurasawa do that at the end of his life. I think Kurasawa had a lot to say at the end and the sad part is that it went over many people's heads.

Well I believe many of the segments are open to interpretation but for anyone who knows that Kurasawa was a socialist, or that he didn't really dig how technology was taking the world. Well there lies your answer. Some of the segments use allegory express Kurasawa's feelings about the destruction of nature around him, the abuse of capitalism, His need for perfectionism and what he endured for it, the spoils of war and much more.

The man was dying and he wanted the world to know just how he felt about it. Amazing film. Beautifully shot. Amazing to look at. I gave it 9 out of 10. It would have been perfect with out Martin S. as Van gogh.

******Spoilers****

The scene in the wasteland with as the demons fighting over that last little pond of polluted water was such a viscous attack on capitalism I find it amusing that more people didn't understand it.
7 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
One of the best spins on the evolution of man since 2001: A Space Odyssey
rooprect16 September 2020
"Dreams" is one of the greatest puzzles to hit the screen since Tetris. If you're up for the challenge, you should definitely give it a try. Here Kurosawa presents us with 8 fragments which may seem confusing at first, but ultimately they tell a powerful story of man's evolution beginning at childhood in a traditional setting, taking us through adulthood, war and waste, to a postapocalyptic future that could be called "scifi", and ultimately capping the story with a stunning piece I won't ruin for you.

The story loosely follows a character called "I" as he grows up in his dreams. He is presented as merely an observer, almost like the faceless interviewer in "Citizen Kane," or for you literature fans he may remind you a lot of Dante in the epic "Divine Comedy". That is, he observes humankind through its sins. Aye, don't be fooled by Kurosawa's gorgeous, bright, uplifting visuals; this is perhaps Kurosawa's darkest tale.

The 8 stories are: 1) As a young child, he inadvertantly disrupts a secret ritual of foxes in the forest. 2) Still a child, he meets the ghosts of trees that his family destroyed. 3) Now a young adult, he is the leader of an ill-fated mountain expedition visited by a mysterious spirit. 4) Older yet, past the age of youthful fire, he is a soldier returning from a terrible war and haunted by ghosts of his battalion. 5) Now a middle aged artist, he encounters the ghost of Vincent Van Gogh. 6) Abruptly he finds himself in the middle of a (deliberately) insane disaster flick. 7) The scifi segment where he wakes up in a postapocalyptic future full of cannibal demons (yes, Kurosawa made a zombie flick). And ultimately 8) The one I won't mention because it's for you see how it all ends.

All 8 stories follow the same theme of "I" meeting ghosts who tell of man's sins. Worthy of note is our hero's passivity which is itself one of the failings of man. As "I" grows up and faces increasingly devastating consequences for humankind's shortsightendess, we realize Kurosawa's poignant message. Each "dream" is a stark warning.

If you watch this film, I suggest paying close attention to 1 subtle but important thing. Notice Kurosawa's use of "special effects" because that is the key to a deeper message. In the beginning when "I" is a child, the special effects (forest spirits) are merely people dressed up in elaborate masks--a very childlike way of perceiving fantasy. In the young adult segments, the special effects (ghosts of soldiers) are disturbingly realistic yet stylized. In middle age, the excellent Van Gogh segment, the special effects are magnificently overwhelming, literally engulfing the entire screen. Then for the 2 climactic "scifi" segments, suddenly the effects are almost absurd like a cheesy disaster flick (this was deliberate. Kurosawa even enlisted the assistance of his friend Ishiro Honda who directed a few Godzilla flicks). And we end on the 8th magical segment which has no special effects at all.

Kurosawa was telling us a story through the evolution of visuals, just as much as he was telling us a story of sequential events. If you can follow these and other clues that are peppered throughout, you'll realize that "Dreams" has a very clear path and a very cryptic but powerful story. So put down your sodoku; this is the real deal.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Entirely Underrated. The Best Kurosawa Film I've Ever Seen
zetes31 May 2000
I have been exploring the works of Akira Kurosawa for about 6 months now, and I have seen most of those films which are generally considered masterpieces of film. There wasn't one of his films that I felt surpassed classics like 2001, Citizen Kane, Raging Bull, or The Godfather. The one I had felt was the best was Ran, his adaptation of King Lear. But now I've found one that I believe is among the ranks of the classics of cinema.

And oddly enough, Dreams is not considered a masterpiece. Maltin only gives it ***. I give it a square 10/10. I was skeptical at first. The first three pieces were nice, but I didn't find them extraordinary. The fourth one, "The Tunnel," began to interest me, and about half-way through that one, I realized that putting dreams to film made a lot more sense than I had originally thought. I began to examine them from a psychological point of view. I became obsessed with the first three, diving deeply into them for their meanings, coming up with pearls of wisdom. I think this film affected my unconscious mind more than most films. Only 2001, which works on every level, conscious, subconscious, and unconscious, simultaneously (and it is alone among films in that respect), is similar.

I will not go into any of the plots. One should experience everything in this film with no preconceptions. Besides, no one should on this site; these comments ought to be only about why or why not the commenter liked the film he/she is commenting on. Just rent it, sit down, and let your mind absorb the beautiful images and the half-coherent thoughts expressed. When you fall asleep afterwards, you will certainly have the best dreams you've ever had.
7 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Disappointingly Pretentious
imajestr20 December 2007
Don't get me wrong, I love movies that make you think, and I tend not to like the typical Hollywood over-budgeted garbage that's spewed out year after year after year. I've heard this movie praised over and over again, and being a newcomer to Kurosawa's film making, I was looking forward to a strange adventure into this man's mind. Unfortunately, what I found was a segment or two that was great in concept, sometimes beautifully filmed, but overall, surprisingly pretentious and poorly executed.

There are segments that seem to drag on forever without dialogue and others that spew what seems to be propaganda from the mouths of the actors. Personally, I don't mind films with slow pacing, and the segments that dragged, to me, were the more enjoyable than the ones full of propaganda. I'll clarify what I mean by "propaganda." It seems to me that the writing is far too overt. Yes, there are deep and important messages being told to us, but they're not subtle in the least. I felt like I was watching a couple of plays written at the high school level. Most of the characters stand still on screen while they talk, seemingly, directly to the audience about whatever moral or ethical dilemma the segment is addressing.

Still, if you like odd movies and some experimental film making, you should at least give this a rent. Unfortunately, I bought it and am unsatisfied with my purchase, but had I rented it for a couple dollars I would not have felt cheated. It's something to watch once, but the dialogue is painfully unnatural at times and ruins some great concepts with poor writing. It's not a classic, but it's not a complete failure in every aspect either.
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Disappointing for me, but not a bad film
TheLittleSongbird21 June 2012
Just for the record I love Akira Kurasawa and his movies, Seven Samurai and Ran being my favourites of his. Dreams was a film I didn't like very much at first but did admire it for how beautifully filmed it was. Watching it again, I do like it much more. Although it is one of my least favourite Kurasawas and still disappointing for me, it is not a bad film. A couple of the vignettes are rather self-indulgent and muddled in the messaging, some of the more political parts could be seen as somewhat naive and the pacing is uneven, perfect at times but drags too much in others. However, again like with all Kurasawa's work it looks absolutely gorgeous especially in the Crows vignette, full of beautifully composed cinematography and colourful imagery. Kurasawa's direction shows what a versatile director he was, often genteel and poignant here. The music compliments each vignette very well, the haunting tune of the concluding Village of the Watermills vignette fared the most effective. The environmentalism is appropriately heartfelt, and Martin Scorsese is excellent as Van Gogh. Overall, not one of Kurasawa's very best for me but after hearing not so good things about it I am glad I gave it a second chance as it is not for everyone, but I found it much better second time around. If anything Dreams is decent, it is just that it falls short of the greatness of the likes of Seven Samurai, Ran, Yojimbo, Ikiru and Hidden Fortress. 7/10 Bethany Cox
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
A Flow of Truth
josh-12989 July 2009
Am I of the few who aspire to true optimism that begs the question that this film is for anybody and everybody? Absolutely, and anybody who has come away with something from this film can agree that they obviously believe the same thing. Don't apologize guys because this film deserve all your credit.

Specific to the human experience is the nature of dreams. Something that can inspire us, beg questions of or for us to simply ignore. So futile are the attempts to analyze them fully, one can pull them apart and may be useful for the understanding of ones mind, it works, it does, but sometimes dreams just are. They obviously could be pulled apart and thats interesting, but when you experience a dream, you just react, analysis and embellishment doesn't happen till after.

What's truly beautiful about this film is its truth to how a dream plays, it's truth to its ambiguous dialogue (as in a dream), the truth to the embellished coloring or discoloring (as in a dream), overall its truth to the mood and perpetual questioning that a dream always conveys.

I can't fault it, I love it, It makes you realize your not alone. To see dreams played out in such perfect detail, The snarling dog with the red light, my goodness! The fade in the weeping demon exquisite, the joyous encounter in the peach orchard! I could go on...

The fact remains I'm as cynical as the next man, I try not to be, I don't have to try with this, its perfection in its imperfection, Imperfection in its perfection.

If your looking to watch this, forget any kind of precursor and look at it as yourself, it doesn't need analyzing, you'd be wasting you time, its another mans dreams.... but how familiar is it all?
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
a match made in hebben
waltcosmos19 September 2008
This haunting spectacle, this bizarre, saturnalian plunge in the everlasting MUST be seen back-to-back with HERBIE:FULLY LOADED, starring Lindsay Lohan. Allow me to explain. In the first dream, a little boy goes into the forest and witnesses a miracle of nature, coming across a group of sentient foxes (people displayed in fox costumes, anticipating Andrew Lloyd Webbers CATS-even though technically, CATS came first). Flash cut to Herbie. A fox, Lindsay Lohan, who has without a doubt the most gorgeous legs in America, comes across a sentient car. Back to Kirosawa. A family pointlessly destroys a peach orchard, leaving nothing in it's place. The dolls are angry and assume the little boy is to blame. Wham Bang. Back to the penultimate BABE! Lindsay plays a girl just graduated with a bachelors degree in something or other. That would PROBABLY make her at LEAST 22 YEARS OLD!!! A GROWN WOMAN!!! Yet she is asking her dad for permission to do things, like drive her OWN CAR in a race that has NOTHING to do with him!!! O, THE ANGST!!! Both films leave you breathless. But for different reasons.
4 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
The modern Beethovan of our time
baharroth_6247 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This post contains lots of spoilers: my apologies to all

I am a huge Kurosawa fan, possibly one of the biggest and love this movie above all else. It is a masterpiece. I call him "Beethovan" because when he made this film, he was blind as Beethovan was deaf. It is by far his most beautiful film ever made.

It is a clear anti-nuclear war message. Aftere having viewed Hiroshima, it is another clear message just like the monument. After one sees "the Weeping Demon" and "Mt. Fuji in Red" in conjunction with Hiroshima/Nagasaki you will understand the hateful nature of nuclear weapons and such.

Moving away from the political nature of the movie, the acting is spectacular. Each and every actor no matter how minuscule their role is perfected and looks like god himself carved it. Not a single detail is over looked and not a single movement goes unchecked.

The color! Dear god, its gorgeous. Color was the Peach blossoms (or second one) will leave one breathless, just starring at such a scene of the dance makes me cry. It's beautiful the color and the filming of it. And crows is bred from his incredibly brilliant mind. Jumping into the pictures of Van Gogh. Absolute brilliance and beautiful.

My apologies for the spoilers. There is so much more I could go on with, but I must stop. All in all, it is a must see for all wannabe directors and artists of any form.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Simply Amazing(spoilers)
00hero8 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I just saw this movie after trying to find it for about 2-3 years. My friend and I were working on a short and he told me that it reminded him of one of the shorts in Dreams by Kurosawa. Now I was taken aback, Kurosawa being one of my favorite directors. When I sat down with a friend to watch the movie I had been obsessing about for three years, well excited isn't the word I would use to describe my state of mind.

The celluloid moved and I watched in absolute enjoyment, I couldn't take my eyes of the screen. Every frame was a painting, so intentional, so fluid, and quite removed from the "lets use cgi for every other shot", attitude that is so present in film making today, thats not a bash to the industry, but you can make a great picture using cgi without over using it.

The order of which the shorts were put together I believe was perfect. Starting with youthful folly and ending with hope, isn't that life's gambit? There are parts where it gets preachy but if this is your last picture wouldn't you want to get as much of yourself into it as possible?

At the end of the picture, I felt overwhelmed with an urge to create, I said to my self"I want to be that good" as I want to be a filmmaker. Simply amazing, anyone who wants to make movies should watch this one.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
A Surreal Journey
samakamas2 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This surreal environmentally themed film is certainly worth a watch because it is so strange. However, audience be warned, if you decide to watch this film, be prepared for a journey that may leave you confused, bewildered, and forced to wonder about your own dreams about the future. Dreams is not a typical film thematically or stylistically, and the viewer should be prepared for a strange yet remarkable journey. Instead of following a linear plot line the film consists of eight independent short stories, each with different settings and characters. Each dream could function as a stand alone piece, but similar themes run through the works. These common themes tie the piece together and create a more cohesive and complete piece. In addition, the scenes are organized in a strategic way so that transitions are smooth. Moreover, your ability to comprehend the more eccentric scenes toward the end of the film is increased by being primed and comfortable with Kurosawa's surreal style. Each scene is set in a different time, place, and reality, and they all have a mystical quality. Each dream addresses an environmental theme in an imaginative way. For example, in the first dream, a young boy witnesses a fox's wedding without permission, and must face the consequences. In the second, another young boy speaks with the spirits of a peach orchard that his family cut down. In the next, four men attempt to summit a mountain during a deadly blizzard. The film then takes a turn that raises your hair on end when a commander walks through a tunnel and encounters one of his dead soldiers. In an even more surreal scene, a man seeks Vincent Van Gogh by literally diving into his paintings. In the sixth and seventh scene, Kurosawa imagines a nuclear energy disaster in Japan and what a post nuclear fallout world would look like. In the final dream a traveler stumbles upon a quaint town that lives in harmony with nature. Each of these vignettes present arguments about our society's relationship with nature, and they explore the dangerous consequences that might occur if we do not respect it.

Dreams is intriguing and artistically masterful, but I still found it difficult to stay focused and involved during some of the slower moments. Kurosawa is certainly an incredibly talented director with demonstrated artistic mastery. Within the first few seconds of each scene, the audience is transported into Kurosawa's dream world. Whether it be in a blizzard or post nuclear apocalypse, Kurosawa is able to set the scene without backstory or dialogue. The acting and music is made more dramatic by typically desolate or sparse environment. They qualities work in union with each other to create a stylistically unique atmosphere. In most cases this union was effective, however, on multiple occasions the music was too heavy handed, overdramatic, and distracting. Similarly, on multiple occasions a dramatic beat lasted too long, and I found myself drifting away. During these moments of lapsing concentration the artistic film lover in me had to shake the rest of my mind awake. While the artist in me regarded these moments with self revulsion, it is important to note that there were moments in the film where I heard myself saying, "Okay, I get it. Now let's get on with it." By no means did these moments completely derail Kurosawa's film; however, it is important to note that this film is not fast paced or easy to process. It is easy to feel confused by his surreal style. In my experience this confusion distances the audience from the film that it was so captivated by just moments before. If you watch films solely for the purpose of being entertained and do not like to be puzzled or actively think about a film, this film is not for you. After watching this film the viewer certainly can tell that Kurosawa's vision is refined, purposeful, and Kurosawa accomplished what he set out to do. However, it may still remain unclear what exactly his goals were. If his goal was to open a door and invite the audience into his dreams, he accomplished that without question. Each dream had a strong setting, even though they were mystical and surreal. He effectively used these settings to evoke emotional responses and set a mesmerising scene. Certain moments dragged on too long and many of the scenes lacked closure. These features distanced the audience from the dream. In some of these moments my mind was racing with possible outcomes and questioning exactly what he was trying to say. I was searching for symbolism and picking out his arguments about humanity and nature. This reflection left me wondering if his intention was to distance the viewer afterall. Nevertheless, in the slower moments I also found myself drifting away from the dream, and into my own dreams; this was certainly not his intention. Nevertheless, this film is certainly a worthwhile experience.

I implore you to watch Kurosawa's Dreams, but do not expect a comfortable and passive ride. Kurosawa takes you on a surreal journey into the depths of his imagination that is both striking and puzzling. The most notable and important feature of Kurosawa's Dreams is that the film explores humanity's relationship with nature. Some dreams explore this relationship more directly, while in others it is more indirect. Nevertheless, it is obvious that Kurosawa is deeply troubled by fears of what the future may bring if we continue on the path we are on, one that is unsustainable and certainly leading to environmental disaster. Despite these fears, this film does not lead the viewer into despair about the environmental crisis and the future of humanity. If you have what it takes, I urge you to watch the film and see for yourself the solution that Kurosawa presents for how we can live happily, sustainably, and ethically.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Beautiful dreams that man has been turned into nightmares
luisguillermoc329 April 2010
Akira Kurosawa was a good man. East-blooded, able to see beyond the surface, transcended the skin and sharpened senses to understand the greatness of our world. He saw, recognized and pulsed with the natural beauty that the world has to offer and felt, shared and respected the man who carries depth, dignity and love, with the rest of his fellows, and put his life in service of an art sacred and clean for him, with which recorded his feelings, hopes and fears.

In 1990, Kurosawa had already created a cinematographic work which included 28 films, most of them of profound significance and an occasional small lakes such as have any other artist, therefore, not always the inspiration and / or conditions, they get found at its highest point. However, already had earned the Golden Lion and Silver Lion in Venice, had received the Oscar for best foreign film, and two Silver Bears at the Berlin Film Festival, also recognized his virtuosity.He had already overcome the worst existential crisis, and had won the recognition of large European and American producers who funded his latest projects.

Thus, with the support of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, then came "Akira Kurosawa's Dreams," a film very visually beautiful, full of illusion and disillusion, innocent and sweet as if you tell your child more intimate, and hope to awaken the conscience of man of the century, which is about to completely ruin the permanence of the human being, this amazing home that we gave by bequest. Eight vindicate dreams and magic of nature, which speak of the forces that exist beyond the senses, that we warn against nuclear disaster, and remind us of the majesty and security that, in principle, we were given away.

The result is a film with meaning and worthy of a tortured writer who, by dint of perseverance, kept alive the hope in man.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed