Some of 'Kurosawa's Dreams' are remarkable

Movies

September 28, 1990|By Lou Cedrone

Akira Kurosawa's ''Dreams'' are like the dreams of most people. Some are worth relating to others. Others, however, are less than memorable. Some are the kind of dreams you want to put out of your mind as soon as you have wakened.

Kurosawa, at 80, still Japan's leading writer-director, gives us eight ''Dreams,'' some of which may be rooted in tradition more than in the director's mind. The first three are the weakest of the batch. The fourth and fifth are boldly imaginative and worth relating to others. The sixth, while vivid in color, is more editorial // than fancy. The same may be said of the last two episodes.

The photography, however, is brilliant throughout. In one sequence, ''Crows,'' it is absolutely dazzling.

In this one, the fifth in the series, an art student steps into a painting by Vincent Van Gogh, meets the man, then returns to the gallery he is visiting. The color is remarkable. A bridge, field and other scenic pieces are painted in colors faithful to Van Gogh, and after a bit, the student begins to wander the landscape, some of which is drawn, some of which is very real; all is imitation Van Gogh.

American director Martin Scorsese plays Van Gogh. He speaks the only English heard in the film, and it is well worth hearing. You may not recognize the face, but you will recognize the voice.

Number 4, ''The Tunnel,'' has a Japanese soldier dream that he is confronting other soldiers who have died in battle. He is living with the guilt that survivors know. This one is less colorful than it is simply heartfelt and perceptive. It is also beautifully staged.

Number Six, ''Mount Fuji in Red,'' is a holocaust film in which three adults realize they will all die when an atomic reactor melts down. This is the first of the final three dreams that are more advisory than they are illusory. Number 7, ''The Weeping Demon,'' has a young man walk a bleak landscape where he meets a horned demon, a survivor of an atomic holocaust. The demon introduces the visitor to a group of demons who are wailing over the sins they committed when alive, something they will do for eternity.

Number 8, ''The Village of the Watermills,'' has the same young man visit a village where nature is used but not abused. There are no machines. People live simply, close to the earth, another message from the director.

The first dream has a young boy witness a group of foxes, in procession. He is not supposed to do that and is told by his mother that he must kill himself unless he can get the foxes to forgive him. The second, ''The Peach Orchard,'' has a boy crying over an orchard that has been destroyed. Because he cares, the spirits of the dead trees allow him to see the orchard as it was. This one is handsome, the color, stunning, but the episode is just a little empty.

The third dream, ''The Blizzard,'' has four hikers close to death in the snow.

''Akira Kurosawa's Dreams'' opens today at the Rotunda. Admirers of Kurosawa are advised to attend.

''Akira Kurosawa's Dreams''

*** Eight ''dreams'' as Akira Kurosawa sees them.

CAST: Akira Terao, Martin Scorsese, Chishu Ryu

DIRECTOR: Akira Kurosawa

RATING: PG

RUNNING TIME: 115 minutes

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