the Looniverse!




directed by
Akira Kurosawa

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.

Toho Co. Ltd.
Produced by Yonki no Kai/Toho
Japan 1970

140 minutes, color
wide-screen 1:1.8




after stories by
art directors
sound recording
music by
Yoichi Matsue
Akira Kurosawa
Hideo Ogumi
Shinobu Hashimuto
Shugoru Yamamoto
Takao Saito
Yoshiro and Shinobu Maraki
Fumio Yamaguchi
Toru Takemitsu
his mother
his wife
his guests

his wife
his wife
his children

his wife
his step-daughter
his son
Ocho, his wife
Vegetable Man
Bar girl
Old Man
Yoshitaka Zushi
Junzaburo Ban
Kiyoko Tange
Michiko Hino
Tape Shimokawa
Keishi Furuyama
Hisashi Igawa
Hideko Okiyama
Kunie Taika
Jitsuko Yoshimura
Shinsuke Minami
Yoko Kusunoki
Toshiyuki Tonomura
Miika Oshida
Satoshi Hasegawa
Kumiko Ono
Tatsuhiko Yagishita
Tatsuo Matsumura
Tsuji Imura
Tomoko Yamazaki
Masahiko Kametani
Noboru Mitani
Hiroyuki Kawase
Hiroshi Akutagawa
Tomoko Naraoka
Atsushi Watanabe
Jerry Fujio
Sanji Kojima
Masahiko Tanimura
Kazuo Kato
Akemi Negishi
Shoichi Kuwayama
Kamatari Fujiwara

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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