Akira Kurosawa's first color film, Dodes'ka-den evokes theater
of the absurd, with its eccentric cast assembled in a landfill. This
poignant, unforgettable statement on the human condition features a
surreal landscape and saturated palette. The artificial, often livid
colors and the unpredictable camera gestures imbue this shantytown
setting with a sense of fantasy and bewitchment.
Kurosawa gazes at his crippled society with tolerance, amusement and
compassion. There are no heros here, merely a group of shy, feckless
outcasts huddled together on the desolate fringes of the city. Some
are drunk; some are physically handicapped. All have been cheated by
life. All survive on illusion.
Here is a vision worthy of Dante, a truly "divine comedy," in
which naivete is a shining virtue and evil suffers defeat in the most
disarming and least violent of ways.
After finishing production on this film, Kurosawa attempeted
suicide by slashing his neck and arms in twenty-one places, following
the example of his elder brother who killed himself in this
manner. While recuperating, his spirits were lifted by letters from
schoolchildren offering to donate money for his next film.
Criterion's new transfer brings this rarely-seen classic to home
theater in its original widescreen aspect ratio.
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