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Review: Akira Kurosawa's Dreams

For years, my brother has been begging me to see Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams, and for years, I’ve managed to find one excuse or another to put it off. So, as a special Christmas present, I finally made good on my promise to sit down and watch the movie with him, courtesy of Criterion’s beautiful new Blu-Ray release. It ended up being  great gift to myself, as well—it is, quite simply, a gorgeous picture.

An anthology film composed of vignettes less concerned with coherent plot than with color-drenched, painterly snapshots of emotions, Dreams grapples with themes relating to time and mortality. Kurosawa’s characters march resolutely into uncertain futures, chase idyllic memories of the past, and fight desperately to stay alive even when the warm embrace of death whispers sweet promises of comfort, haunted all the while by such potent images as an impenetrable blizzard, creeping clouds of radiation, and the silhouette of Mount Fuji crumbling against the crimson glow of a nuclear meltdown. And although these various pieces ramble and often taper off without offering much resolution, their sum total is a fascinating, poignant journey towards accepting life’s natural flow—as well as its inevitable end.

[Originally written December 26, 2016.]

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