どですかでん [videorecording] - Dodesuka-den

DVD - 2009 | Japanese
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This film follows the lives of the people who live in a slum, built in a garbage dump. A mentally disabled boy is obsessed with streetcars, driving an imaginary streetcar around, chanting "Dodes'ka-den! Dodes'ka-den!"--Mimicking the sound of the wheels. Some of the neighbors are a young woman living with her lecherous uncle; a pair of friends who get drunk and swap wives; a possibly mentally ill beggar and his son who live in a deserted car; and a man with five children who knows he is not the father of any, but treats them as if they were his own. Although they may dream of better times, these people are trapped--both physically and psychologically--doomed to live a life of disappointment (or worse), but many find ways to carry on.
Publisher: [Irvington, NY] : Criterion Collection, c2009.
ISBN: 9781604651270
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (140 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in. + 1 booklet (23 p. : ill. ; 19 cm.)
Additional Contributors (Original Script): 東宝映画株式会社


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mko123 Feb 01, 2019

A shanty town in Japan is the setting for this view into a microcosm of flawed, but fascinating assortment of humanity. Alcoholism, poverty and hopelessness coexist along side of fantasy, laughter and Shinto wisdom. As easy as it is to judge others for their failings in life, Kurosawa reminds us that when we condemn others, we risk becoming the walking dead, like some of his more tragic characters. A thought-provoking, compassionate film with truly memorable characters. You will laugh when you learn what the title means on Japanese..

Jul 15, 2016

There's no question of Kurosawa being the master of his craft. However, on a deeper delve, this movie is a clear indication of Kurosawa's psyche after his humiliating removal from Tora, Tora, Tora. He's created a tiny microcosm of Japan (humanity), where betrayal, exploitation, cruelty, prejudice, supplication, alcoholism, and occasional crime, are the rule. Where the characters can only escape by resorting to social and sensory withdrawal in case of a betrayed husband, chanting a Buddhist sutra in case of a mother with a developmentally challenged son, and total delusion of a man resulting in death. It seems the only free person is the mentally challenged teenager driving a fantasy trolley, which leads us to this microcosm.

Dec 11, 2014

Life in an urban slum is never easy, but in Akira Kurosawa's colourful collection of ghetto tales neither is it dull.  Set amidst a jumble of ramshackle huts firmly located on the other side of the tracks, his camera follows several intersecting dramas as they unfold over the course of a few days.  Among the stories:  a slightly unhinged father who amuses his little boy by building castles in the air; a grief-stricken woman whose attempt to reunite with her estranged husband only leads to further anguish; and a pair of drinking buddies who regularly stumble home to each other's spouses.  And bridging the narrative strands are a philosophical old man with a knack for saying the right thing at the right time, and a mentally challenged son who indulges his obsession for trains by traversing the neighbourhood in an imaginary trolley bus.  Shot primarily on fanciful soundstages using bold primary colours and a lilting score which compliments both its comedic and tragic elements, this is a deeply human film, brimming with compassion, whose occasional moments of "preciousness" are completely forgivable.  Although deemed too depressing by fickle audiences upon its initial release, Kurosawa's first colour film would nevertheless go on to become Japan's official entry for best foreign language Oscar.


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