Review: Dreams (1990)


A trip unlike any other into the dream world of one of the greatest directors to ever live!

Written By: Akira Kurosawa
Directed By: Ishirô Honda & Akira Kurosawa

To fully take in Dreams requires an ability to think outside of oneself. To accept the dreams and visions of someone else, regardless of whether you agree with the metaphors his dreams contain. Because honestly, dreams aren’t about acceptance and agreement, they are about the experience. Dreams is all about the experience, it is about allowing yourself to be taken on a journey through the dreams of a great director such as Akira Kurosawa. The dreams don’t always make sense, but then again dreams don’t always make sense, and there is a large amount of surrealism at play. What Dreams delivers isn’t just the dreams of Kurosawa, but the beautifully rendered dreams of Kurosawa.

I could break down each dream sequence individually, but I don’t believe I am the man to do as such, nor has this site been designed around that concept. Instead, I will do what I usually do and break down Dreams from a technical perspective and in how it affected me. Not only is Dreams a look into the mind of Akira Kurosawa, it is a look into your own mind as well. By laying his own dreams on the table for everyone to see and presenting them in such clarity one can’t help but examine the way they respond to what is before their eyes. I know that every tale in Dreams touched me in a different way, some profound, some amusing, some a combination of both, some beyond description.

Dreams is a departure for Kurosawa in that it contains nothing resembling a narrative or plot. While an auteur such as Kurosawa always laced his films with messages and themes that affected the audience and spoke to the audience, this is the first time Kurosawa has done away with the physical trappings of a story and presented allegorical content straight from his own person. Whether you agree with his allegories is neither here nor there. Dreams is about taking in the brilliant thoughts of a man and journeying through what shaped him into the man and director we all knew. It’s hard to describe, and I know I sound very puzzling and foolish right now. But, Dreams is a hard film to describe to anyone who hasn’t experienced it and even harder to describe to someone who has.

From a straight technical standpoint Dreams may be Kurosawa’s greatest color work. The film is lush with bright imagery and colorful visuals. There is a starkness to every sequence, every frame, sort of like an abstract painting. I don’t know how Kurosawa, fellow director Ishirô Honda and cinematographers Takao Saitô & Masaharu Ueda framed the picture like they did, but they did a wonderful job at framing every moment of every dream. Even in the most serene of sequences such as the final windmill village, the eye is still barraged by beautiful imagery on every square inch of the screen.

Talking about Dreams was hard, because it is a hard film to put into words. Dreams is very much an experience, something you need to take in but something that is troublesome to express in words after the experience is over. It’s not for everyone and is a movie for people with more eclectic tastes or people who are more prone to live in a fantasy world and look forward to exploring their dreams. It should be no surprise that I would recommend this forgotten Kurosawa masterpiece, we all need to dream every now and again, don’t we?




2 responses to “Review: Dreams (1990)

  1. I absolutely adore this film! As you say, very hard to put into words. Very emotional…

  2. It ranks among Kurosawa’s best for me, and it’s easily a criminally underrated and overlooked film I think.

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