The Criterion Collection: Akira Kurosawa’s DREAMS Review

Posted on Nov 21 2016 - 10:15am by Lewis Stephenson


Director: Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Akira Terao, Mitsuko Baisho, Mieko Harada, Toshie Negishi, Mitsunori Isaki, Toshihiko Nakano, Yoshitaka Zushi, Hisashi Igawa, Chosuke Ikariya, Chishu Ryu, Martin Scorsese

Running Time: 120 minutes

Rating: PG

The cinema of Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa is dominated by early films, the likes of RASHOMON, IKIRU, SEVEN SAMURAI and YOJIMBO, all shot in black and white and containing stories of action. Therefore, to see a film such as DREAMS be splashed with colour and relative calm is different change of pace and one that you don’t fully realise until the various dreams begin to unfold.

The film consists of eight tales that are all based upon Kurosawa’s actual dreams and all clearly explore different themes and emotions that not only Kurosawa had experienced, but ones we all have. The format of the film allows for such a vast change in aesthetic that you’re completely unprepared for where the film will take you next. We move from serene settings, ‘Sunshine Through The Rain’, ‘The Peach Orchard’ and finally ‘The Village Of The Water Mills’ to intense ones, ‘The Blizzard’, ‘Mount Fuji In Red’ and ‘The Weeping Demon’ with stops long the way with the emotional, ‘The Tunnel’, and experimental, ‘Crows’.

Kurosawa brings surreal elements to the tales as they deal with their different agendas and utterly captivates with every single one of them. DREAMS is, at times, meditative and challenging, then at others it’s completely beautiful to look at.


Special Edition features:

– New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Shoji Ueda, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
– New audio commentary featuring film scholar Stephen Prince
– Making of “Dreams” (1990), a 150-minute documentary shot on set and directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi
– New interview with production manager Teruyo Nogami
– New interview with assistant director Takashi Koizumi
– Kurosawa’s Way (2011), a fifty-minute documentary by Kurosawa’s longtime translator Catherine Cadou, featuring interviews with filmmakers Bernardo Bertolucci, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Martin Scorsese, Hayao Miyazaki, and others
– Trailer
– New English subtitle translation
– PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Bilge Ebiri and Kurosawa’s script for a never-filmed ninth dream, introduced by Nogami

Akira Kurosawa’s DREAMS is released in the UK by The Criterion Collection on November 21st.

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