Dreams (1990)

dreams poster 1990 movie akira kurosawa
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great looking

Movie isn't plot driven but story lies within each dream

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Dreams

Studio:   Akira Kurosawa USA

Genre(s):   Drama/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):   May 11, 1990

MPAA Rating:   PG

dreams sunshine through the rain fox wedding

The dream where you see something you’re not supposed to…and you’re caught

Akira Kurosawa has dreams.  His dreams include a child who spies on a fox wedding, a boy visited by the spirits of the peach trees his family cut down, mountaineers trapped by fierce weather while trying to reach camp, a commander entering a tunnel only to be faced by the soldiers he lost, a man pulled into the paintings of Vincent van Gogh, the threat of a nuclear disaster, sins making demons, and traveler visiting a town of watermills.  Akira Kurosawa dreams and lets you see them.

Written and directed by Akira Kurosawa, Dreams (夢 or Yume or also called Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams) is an anthology fantasy drama.  Following Ran in 1985, Dreams featured eight short films “Sunshine Through the Rain”, “The Peach Orchard”, “The Blizzard”, “The Tunnel”, “Crows”, “Mount Fuji in Red”, “The Weeping Demon”, and “Village of the Watermills”, and Kurosawa received help from George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Frances Ford Coppola (plus Martin Scorsese who appears in “Crows”).  The film was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign language film, and the Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #842).

dreams crows vincent van gogh

Falling into your favorite art or movie

Dreams are pretty personal in that they are often tied to the subconscious.  Even in a waking state, your mind might let down its guard and things you forgot you even remembered can resurface in symbolic natures.  Some have also said that telling people about your dreams is one of the most boring things that can be done because they are uniquely tied to you…I argue you can watch Dreams and that proves it isn’t the case.

Dreams isn’t not a plot driven movie.  The film doesn’t feature any storyline but instead generally links the dreams with a black screen saying “I had another dream” or something to that extent.  The dreams themselves are also choppy, but dreams often are.  I’m sure that Kurosawa smooth out aspects of the dreams for the film, but in general, the dreams end rather abruptly and leave the viewer to decide what they mean (if they can even be interpreted by a viewer).

Surprisingly, almost all of the dreams are good and have their moments.  Many anthologies feature a really weak segment and strong ones.  Dreams feels pretty balanced out.  Some of the stories are kind of creepy with gods, demons, and spirits, and others like “Village of the Waterfalls” and “Crows” are more about the visuals of the dream.  If I had to pick a weaker sequence it would be “Mount Fuji in Red”, but in the context of 1985, nuclear explosions and fallouts were the concern of many…and who is to say that he didn’t have the dream after Three-Mile Island or another earlier event.

dreams the tunnel akira kurosawa dead soldiers

Dreams of guilt…

The movie is a lot about Kurosawa’s visuals.  Imagine if you could bring your dreams to life in such vision.  The bright colors of the fox wedding in “Sunshine Through the Rain” or the beauty of being stuck in Vincent van Gogh’s Wheat Field with Crows.  The film utilizes the real town of Azumino in Nagano Prefecture for “Village of the Waterfalls” at the Daiō Wasabi Farm…making you want to travel there.

Akira Kurosawa is a visionary and you can see his visionary power in that he brings you into his personal world in Dreams.  It isn’t a perfect movie but it feels like a very personal movie (it was the first film Kurosawa personally wrote with no aid since The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail in 1952).  Fans of Kurosawa must see it, but it is accessible to all.  Kurosawa followed Dreams with Rhapsody in August in 1991.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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