The Michigan Daily- Monday, October 1, 1990 - Page 7
Achieving reality in Dreams4,
ir. Akira Kurosawa
by Mark Binelli
A dream is the fruit of pure and
earnest human desire... A human is
a genius while dreaming.
Yesterday, I was trying to complete
a self-portrait. I just couldn't get the
ear right, so I cut it off and threw it
-Martin Scorsese as Vincent Van
M y favorite segment in Akira
Kurosawa's Dreams, the acclaimed
80- year-old Japanese director's 28th
film, is called "Sunshine Through
the Rain." In it, a young boy spies
q a fox wedding procession, which
is taking place, in accordance with
Japanese legend, while the sun is out
on a rainy day.
The foxes are exquisitely
costumed humans doing a magical
dance. They spot the boy watching
them and he runs home (an exact
replica of Kurosawa's boyhood
house), only to find that he has been
locked out by his mother. She hands
Iim a dagger and informs him that
he must beg forgiveness from the
angry foxes or commit suicide. The
dream ends with the tiny boy, who
has gone to seek out the foxes,
standing in the middle of a field un-
derneath a magnificent rainbow.
Visually, this dream - and the
seven others that comprise this film
- are incredible, more like paint-
ings than pieces of celluloid, relying
more on a combination of music,
movement, and images rather than
any words or storyline. They are
passionate, expressionistic visions,
with no clear explanations or neat
wrap-ups. In other words, Kuro-
sawa's Dreams actually resemble
real dreams - he's done the
undoable in creating a two-hour
dream sequence that works.
Kurosawa's main concern is still
man and nature, and he manages to
convey various truths about the age-
old enemies without becoming
overtly political and degenerating
into some sort of annoying Green-
peace diatribe. For instance, in "The
Peach Orchard," a group of hina
dolls come to life to show a boy the
orchard that was cut down by his
family; they perform a dance and
transform themselves into the peach
trees, fully in bloom, before disap-
pearing and proving that subtlety is
always much more effective than a
lecture from Sting.
Meanwhile, in "Crows," another
of the film's most powerful dreams,
the inspiration an artist derives from
nature is explored, as a Japanese mu-
seum patron (played by Akira Terao,
the Kurosawa-dreamer in six of the
dreams) is drawn into Van Gogh's
"Drawbridge at Arles" and meets the
painter at work. American director
Martin Scorsese is an obsessed Van
Gogh with whom Kurosawa obvi-
ously sympathizes, and a wheat field
in Hokkaido is remarkably trans-
formed into a series of his paintings.
Not all of the dreams are Thoreau
wet, though. "Mount Fuji In Red"
and "The Weeping Demon" are
atomic nightmares, the former mak-
ing a nuclear power plant explosion
seem like a volcanic eruption, and
the latter bringing the surreal quality
of the entire film to new heights, as
Chosuke Ikariya, a member of the
Japanese comedy band The Drifters,
made up as a demon, laments about
the destruction of the world amid
giant post-apocalypse dandelions.
The final dream is appropriately
from an older perspective, and seems
to sum up Kurosawa's own philoso-
phy of the world. Chishu Ryu plays
a 103-year-old sage in "Village of
the Watermills." "Some say life is
hard," he pontificates amid his natu-
ral utopia, a small self-sufficient
river village that has no need for
The Japanese fox wedding is only one of the surreal scenes in Akira Kurosawa's Dreams. The 80-year-old
director brings his dream-life experiences to the screen, creating hours of wonder.
electricity and only uses trees that
have fallen down by themselves.
"That's just talk. In fact, it's good to
be alive. It's exciting."
AKIRA KUROSAWA'S DREAMS is
playing at Ann Arbor 1&2.
Too much hype
Too Much Joy, the (white) band
that got arrested in Florida for
playing rock versions of 2 Live
Crew songs and whose video
"That's a Lie" has been getting
some airplay on MW, bring their
obscenities to Ann Arbor tonight.
Nobody really knows if their music
is any good or not because all
anybody talks about is the big
arrest. Tonight's a chance to see
them play and forget about all this
censorship bullshit. Group member
Sandy Smallens assures that the
show will be cleaner than the
Crew's. No lewd female dancers
wearing (barely) bikinis or
anything, he says, "Just our
butts." Hopefully the show will
have a happier ending than the
Florida gig pictured here. The band
opens for the Wonder Stuff at the
Nectarine. Doors open at 9 and
tickets are $9.50 (p.e.s.c.).
and the Basement Arts players do a
good job of projecting what is a
Continued from page S complex and illuminating idea: you
can't betray yourself.
crashing into the ground. Shepherd -Mike Kolody
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