Saturday, 2 May 2009


Just finished watching the latest of Criterion's excellent run of Akira Kurosawa films. Dodes'Ka-Den, Kurosawa's 1970 comeback film after his humiliating sacking from Tora, Tora, Tora! remains one of my favourite Kurosawa films, and to replace my 10-year old taped-from-Channel 4 VHS copy is a joy. The film, set amongst a community living on the edge of a sprawling Tokyo rubbish dump is not exactly new - Kurosawa mined similar territory with The Lower Depths in 1957, but Dodes'Ka-Den has the significance of being Kurosawa's first colour film, and goes flat out with a dazzling and often surreal use of colour - think of a cross between Red Desert and Kwaidan. For newcomers to Kurosawa, Dodes'Ka-Den is hardly a good entry point to dive into his filmography - it's two & a half hours of heavy, heavy drama, but for fans of eclectic World Cinema, the film is highly recommended. The title of the film by the way is a literal spelling of the sound of a train in motion, which one of the characters mimics. A sort of Japanese version of clickity clack...

Criterion's disc is their usual top shelf production - the color scheme has been transferred to DVD with great care (with the colours neither faded or burning off the screen) and for extras we another segment of the long-running Akira Kurosawa series, It's Wonderful to Create, a 36min episode, focusing on Kurosawa's trials and tribulations in the 60's - the abandoned project Runaway Train (which was eventually directed by Andrei Konchalovsky in the 80's), his ill-fated involvement with Fox and Tora, Tora, Tora!, and the filming of Dodes'Ka-Den. That the film was a critical and commercial flop and Kurosawa attempted suicide in its wake goes unmentioned but its well documented in the Kurosawa biogs that are out there.


  1. I am still working my way through the Kurosawa oeuvre - looking forward to this one!

  2. Craig, this one is definitely a film to see after Seven Samurai and Throne of Blood and all the great classics but it's a wonderful quirky film, and quite heart felt too...