Kurosawa's first movie in full-color
I will get 'round to photographs after having re-fixed my computer video input
The, no doubt apocryphal, story going 'round the grapevine is this:
After Red Beard, which really was a much too expensive movie for Japan to produce, Kurosawa was invited by Darryl F. Zanuck to work on Tora! Tora! Tora! However, after a while Kurosawa resigned; as my friend Noune Hiroshi told me because of "historical disagreements". Be that as it may, for Kurosawa coming back to Japan after having left for the big time in Hollywood would have meant losing face, what the Malayans call adat; a very serious thing indeed. Kurosawa tried to commit suicide by cutting his wrists at that time, but thankfully never succeeded. Meanwhile, Toho, having lost their best director, tried to get him back without losing face, offering him screenplays set in the west.
Finally, Kurosawa came back to Japan and offered Toho to do a production for them. Initially Toho refused; they found Kurosawa's budget much too low and judged he couldn't make the movie for that amount. In the end, they gave in and Kurosawa made Dodeskaden. For the first time in his career, he made the film on schedule and did not go over budget. After the first screening,
Toho's comment was, "But Kurosawa, that's a shit movie!"
Kurosawa: "Well, what do you want for that sort of money?"
No doubt apocryphal, because it's a very good movie indeed. One thing about it is, the way it starts off you sit there wondering what the hell Kurosawa is up to now, and you fear the worst. I have seen the movie on several occasions with different people, and their reaction always is the same "— at a given point, they burst out laughing, when they realize how they've been fooled.
Its subject is somewhat like The Lower Depths. Very funny color jokes: watch the shirts and the houses of the changing partners. Favorite chutzpah in this one: the guy and his son, their faces painted an intense green, when dying from fish poisoning in the Citroen 2CV wreck that's their home, against an audience-must-notice painted giant backdrop of a fake sunset.
Produced by Yonki no Kai/Toho
140 minutes, color
Credits: Cast: producer
after stories by
Yoshiro and Shinobu Maraki
Ocho, his wife
Dodes'ka-den Telling Akira Kurosawa drama about a group of people living in a Tokyo slum. Life's complexities and uncertainties have overtaken them, yet they get by on illusion and imagination.
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