Thursday, 29 January 2009
Dreams (Akira Kurosawa's Dreams) 
Though often dismissed as pompous self-indulgence borne out of senility, Dreams nonetheless deserves a watch as much for its visual poetry as for the philosophical overtones of one of the greatest masters of world cinema – Akira Kurosawa. Comprising of 8 loosely connected dreams, semi-autobiographical vignettes if you will, the movie has covered a plethora of subjects ranging from superstitions to surreal explorations, from deforestation to the futility of war, from nuclear holocaust to a post-apocalypse, from hopelessness to celebration of life. Some of the best shorts here, like the one where Martin Scorsese plays Van Gogh (arguably the best of the lot), the deathly portrayal of Japan’s militaristic past, the one with the sublime animal dance, and the marvelous final short set in an utopian village, are those which manage to tread the fine line between philosophical overtures and moralizing. Things, however, get hackneyed and avoidable in the ones where Kurosawa couldn’t help being overtly didactic. On the whole this is a unique, albeit an inconsistent, experience.
p.s. By the way, is the elaborate dance sequence of forest gods and goddesses in the second short a subtle tribute to the legendary ‘dance of ghosts’ scene in Satyajit Ray’s timeless fantasy movie Goopy Gaine Bagha Baine (The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha), considering the fact that Kurosawa and Ray had immense mutual respect and admiration for each other? I'd love to know if others (i.e. those who've seen both the movies) feel the same way as I do.
Director: Akira Kurosawa