Dodes' ka-den

Dodes' ka-den

DVD - 2009 | Japanese
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A father and son who are homeless dream of a home, a young woman hiding from the abuse she receives from her uncle, and a young boy dreaming of being a trolley conductor spend their days barely surviving in the slums of Tokyo.
Publisher: [United States] : Criterion Collection, c2009
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (144 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. + 1 booklet (23 p. : ill. ; 19 cm.)
Edition: Special ed
Credits: Cinematography, Takao Saitō, Yasumichi Fukuzawa ; art direction, Yōshirō Muraki, Shinobu Muraki ; music, Tōru Takemitsu.
Performers: Yoshitaka Zushi, Kin Sugai, Toshiyuki Tonomura, Shinsuke Minami, Yūko Kusunoki, Junzaburō Ban.
Audience: Rating: Not rated
Language Note: Japanese dialogue; English subtitles
ISBN: 9781604651270
UPC: 715515042918
Alternative Title: Akira Kurosawa's Dodes'ka-den


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Jul 15, 2016

There's no question of Kurosawa being the master of his craft. However, on a deeper delve, this movie is a clear indication of Kurosawa's psyche after his humiliating removal from Tora, Tora, Tora. He's created a tiny microcosm of Japan (humanity), where betrayal, exploitation, cruelty, prejudice, supplication, alcoholism, and occasional crime, are the rule. Where the characters can only escape by resorting to social and sensory withdrawal in case of a betrayed husband, chanting a Buddhist sutra in case of a mother with a developmentally challenged son, and total delusion of a man resulting in death. It seems the only free person is the mentally challenged teenager driving a fantasy trolley, which leads us to this microcosm.

Dec 11, 2014

Life in an urban slum is never easy, but in Akira Kurosawa's colourful collection of ghetto tales neither is it dull.  Set amidst a jumble of ramshackle huts firmly located on the other side of the tracks, his camera follows several intersecting dramas as they unfold over the course of a few days.  Among the stories:  a slightly unhinged father who amuses his little boy by building castles in the air; a grief-stricken woman whose attempt to reunite with her estranged husband only leads to further anguish; and a pair of drinking buddies who regularly stumble home to each other's spouses.  And bridging the narrative strands are a philosophical old man with a knack for saying the right thing at the right time, and a mentally challenged son who indulges his obsession for trains by traversing the neighbourhood in an imaginary trolley bus.  Shot primarily on fanciful soundstages using bold primary colours and a lilting score which compliments both its comedic and tragic elements, this is a deeply human film, brimming with compassion, whose occasional moments of "preciousness" are completely forgivable.  Although deemed too depressing by fickle audiences upon its initial release, Kurosawa's first colour film would nevertheless go on to become Japan's official entry for best foreign language Oscar.


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