Yume (1990) (aka Dreams)
Akira Kurosawa

“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 away.”

YumeThe first thing that strikes everyone about Japanese cinema is the Samurai culture. And the first thing that strikes about Samurai films is Akira Kurosawa. Akira Kurosawa’s later films, however, were not received well even though they were offbeat works such as Dodes’ka-den (1970), Dersu Uzala (1975) and Yume (1990). Yume presents itself as a episodic collection of eight vignettes apparently based on the director’s dreams.

The first dream “Sunshine Through The Rain” presents a kid witnessing the wedding procession of foxes against his mother’s warnings and his subsequent punishment. In the second segment “The Peach Orchard” has a boy witnessing her sister’s dolls (which represent peach orchards) performing a dance and later scolding him for cutting down peach orchards. The next dream “The Blizzard” portrays a few mountaineers trying to scale a peak against all odds posed by the harsh nature. “The Tunnel” sequence is a chilling account of a Japanese army official who meets a dead soldier from his squad who refuses to believe that he is dead. In the “Crows” dream where Martin Scorsese plays Vincent Van Gogh, we are given a tour through the works of Van Gogh. The “Mount Fuji In Red” segment shows a nightmare portrayal of Nuclear explosion. In the seventh dream “The Weeping Demon”, a man meets a demon who explains that a large scale mutation took place that resulted men such as him. In the final dream “Village Of The Watermills”, a man looks at a village that abandoned the use of modern technology and has decided to live in a clean and peaceful environment.

Spectacular imagery and and amazing production design spells class all over. The film, without doubt, provokes mixed reactions from the audience. But it is indisputably, a daring work of art by all measures. Let’s face it. Which other director has the guts to make a picture based on their dream! The film was nominated for the Golden Globe for best foreign film in 1991.