(Japan - 1970)

by Vanes Naldi

Cast: Yoshitaka Zushi, Kin Sugai, Kazuo Kato, Junzaburo Ban, Kyoko Tange
Genre: Drama/Fantasy
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Screenplay: Shinobu Hashimoto, Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, from the novel "City Without Seasons" by Shugoro Yamamoto
Cinematography: Yasumichi Fukuzawa, Takao Saito
Composer: Toru Takemitsu
Runtime: 244 minutes

I don't know if it's because of my fascination for Asia, asians, and their culture, but every Kurosawa movie is an experience for me. This was his first color movie, and he used the medium in a great way even in the dark ambient of post-atomic Japan.

We follow the lives of some of the poorest, most desperate people trying to survive using their imaginations and trying to forget their lives by drinking or creating their own fantasy world to escape reality. The movie starts in a brilliant way with a "mentally challenged" kid who believes he's a tram driver. We follow him through all his preparation, and in a beautiful scene we see him inspect the imaginary tram even though we obviously can't see it. This is only one of the many ways the people try to get past their problems here.

Two friends drown their problems with alcohol. A father of a young kid "builds" his house with his imagination, asking his kid to help him with details like the color of the fence and the material to use. They even debate if a swimming pool would be useful or not. A group of women chit-chat and gossip about their "neighbors." What we see is a continuing depiction of this surreal world: the contrast between the stark reality and the beautiful imagination of these people. The use of Technicolor helps enhance these visuals greatly. Up until the end, Akira drives us, welcomes us into his world full of the contrast between tragedy and comedy. One of the most beautiful movies about imagination as a toy to forget tragedy. Stunning.




* Copyright 2001 - Raging Bull Movie Reviews *