Dreams (1990 film)
|Directed by||Akira Kurosawa
Ishirō Honda (uncredited)
|Produced by||Allan H. Liebert
Mike Y. Inoue
|Written by||Akira Kurosawa|
|Music by||Shinichirô Ikebe|
|Editing by||Akira Kurosawa|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Release date(s)||May 11, 1990|
|Running time||119 minutes|
Dreams (夢 Yume , aka Akira Kurosawa's Dreams) is a 1990 magical realism film based on actual dreams of the film's director, Akira Kurosawa at different stages of his life. The film is more imagery than dialogue. The film was screened out of competition at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival.
The film consists of eight dreams based on Kurosawa's own, throughout his life.
Sunshine Through The Rain 
There is an old legend in Japan that states that when the sun is shining through the rain, the kitsune (foxes) have their weddings (this is a common theme globally – see sunshower). In this first dream, a boy defies the wish of a woman, possibly his mother, to remain at home during a day with such weather. From behind a large tree in the nearby forest, he witnesses the slow wedding procession of the kitsune. Unfortunately, he is spotted by the foxes and runs. When he tries to return home, the same woman says that a fox had come by the house, leaving behind a tantō knife. The woman gives the knife to the boy, implying that he must commit suicide. The woman asks the boy to go and beg forgiveness from the foxes, although they are known to be unforgiving, refusing to let him in unless he does so. The boy sets off into the mountains, towards the place under the rainbow in search for the kitsune's home.
The Peach Orchard 
Hina Matsuri, the Doll Festival, traditionally takes place in spring when the peach blossoms are in full bloom. The dolls that go on display at this time, they say, are representative of the peach trees and their pink blossoms. One boy's family, however, has chopped down their peach orchard, so the boy feels a sense of loss during this year's festival. After being scolded by his older sister the boy spots a small girl running out the front door. He follows her to the now-treeless orchard, where the dolls from his sister's collection have come to life and are standing before him on the slopes of the orchard. The living dolls, revealing themselves to be the spirits of the peach trees, berate the boy about chopping down the precious trees. But after realizing how much he loved the blossoms, they agree to give him one last glance at the peach trees by way of a slow and beautiful dance to Etenraku. After they disappear the boy finds the small girl walking among the treeless orchard before seeing a single peach tree sprouting in her place.
The Blizzard 
A group of four mountaineers struggle up a mountain path during a horrendous blizzard. It has been snowing for three days and the men are dispirited and ready to give up. One by one they stop walking, giving in to the snow and sure death. The leader endeavors to push on, but he too, stops in the snow. A strange woman (possibly the Yuki-onna of Japanese myth) appears out of nowhere and attempts to lure the last conscious man to his death - give in to the snow and the storm, she urges him on, in to reverie, in to sleep, in to certain death. But finding some heart, deep within, he shakes off his stupor and her entreaties, to discover that the storm has abated, and that their camp is only a few feet away.
The Tunnel 
A Japanese army officer is traveling down a deserted road at dusk, on his way back home from fighting in the Second World War. He comes to a large concrete pedestrian tunnel that seems to go on forever into the darkness. Suddenly, an angry, almost demonic-looking anti-tank dog (strapped with explosives) runs out of the tunnel and snarls deeply at him. He proceeds with his walk, afraid, into the tunnel. He comes out the other side, but then witnesses something horrific — the yūrei (ghost) of one of the soldiers (Private Noguchi) whom he had charge over in the war comes out of the tunnel behind him, his face a light blue, signifying that he is dead.
The soldier seems not to believe he's dead, but the officer convinces him and the soldier returns into the darkness of the tunnel. Just when he thinks he's seen the worst, the officer sees his entire third battalion marching out of the tunnel. They too are dead, with light blue faces. He tries to convince them that they're dead, and he expresses his deep-seated guilt about letting them all die in the war. They stand mute, in reply to his words. He then orders them to about face, and then march back into the tunnel. Lastly, we see a second appearance of the hellish dog, from the beginning of this dream.
A brilliantly colored vignette featuring director Martin Scorsese as Vincent Van Gogh. An art student (a character wearing Kurosawa's trademark hat who provides the POV for the rest of the film) finds himself inside the vibrant and sometimes chaotic world of Van Gogh's artwork, where he meets the artist in a field and converses with him. The student loses track of the artist (who is missing an ear and nearing the end of his life) and travels through other works trying to find him. Van Gogh's painting Wheat Field with Crows is an important element in this dream. This Segment features Prelude No. 15 in D-flat major ("Raindrop") by Chopin. The visual effects for this particular segment were provided by George Lucas and his special effects group Industrial Light & Magic.
This is the only segment where the characters do not speak Japanese.
Mount Fuji in Red 
A large nuclear power plant near Mount Fuji has begun to melt down; its six reactors explode one by one. The breaches fill the sky with hellish red fumes and send millions of Japanese citizens fleeing in terror towards the ocean. After an unspecified amount of time, two men, a woman, and her two small children are seen alone, left behind on land in broad daylight. Behind them is the sea. The older man, who is dressed in a business suit, explains to the younger man that the rest have drowned themselves in the ocean. He then says that the several colours of the clouds billowing across the now rubbish-strewn, post-apocalyptic landscape signify different radioactive isotopes; according to him, red signifies plutonium-239, a tenth of a microgram of which is enough to cause cancer. He elaborates on how other released isotopes cause leukemia (strontium-90) and birth defects (cesium-137) before wondering at the foolish futility of colour-coding radioactive gases of such lethality.
The woman, hearing these descriptions, recoils in horror before angrily cursing those responsible and the pre-disaster assurances of safety they had given. The suited man then displays contrition, suggesting that he is in part responsible for the disaster. The other man, dressed casually, watches the multicoloured radioactive clouds advance upon them. When he turns back towards the others at the shore, he sees the woman weeping: the suit-clad man has leaped to his death. A cloud of red dust reaches them, causing the mother to shrink back in terror. The remaining man attempts to shield the mother and her children by using his jacket to feebly fan away the now-incessant radioactive billows.
The Weeping Demon 
A man finds himself wandering around a misty, bleak mountainous terrain. He meets a strange oni-like man, who is actually a mutated human with one horn. The "demon" explains that there had been a nuclear holocaust which resulted in the loss of nature and animals, enormous dandelions and humans sprouting horns, which cause them so much agony that you can hear them howling during the night, but, according to the demon, they can't die, which makes their agony even worse. This is actually a post-apocalyptic retelling of a classic Buddhist fable of the same name.
Village of the Watermills 
A young man finds himself entering a peaceful, stream-laden village. The traveller meets an old, wise man who is fixing a broken watermill wheel. The elder explains that the people of his village decided long ago to forsake the polluting influence of modern technology and return to a happier, cleaner era of society. They have chosen spiritual health over convenience, and the traveller is surprised but intrigued by this notion.
At the end of the sequence (and the film), a funeral procession for an old woman takes place in the village, which instead of mourning, the people celebrate joyfully as the proper end to a good life. This segment was filmed at the Daio Wasabi farm in the Nagano Prefecture. The film ends with a haunting yet melancholic melody from the excerpts of "In the Village", part of the Caucasian Sketches, Suite No. 1 by the Russian composer Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov.
The film received mixed reviews, earning a Rotten Tomatoes approval rating of 50%.
- "Festival de Cannes: Dreams". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-08-08.
- Dreams at the Internet Movie Database
- Dreams at AllRovi
- Dreams (Japanese) at the Japanese Movie Database
- Dreams at Rotten Tomatoes