Movie Review: Dreams (1990)

Title: Dreams
Release Date: May 11, 1990
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Production Company: Akira Kurosawa USA

I saw Dreams at an arthouse theatre around 1991, and even though I never revisited the movie until now, it has always stuck with me.  This was the first Akira Kurosawa film I’d ever seen, although I didn’t know who Kurosawa was at the time.  The movie features eight vignettes based on actual recurring dreams that Kurosawa had.  As a result they can be quite perplexing although maintaining a dream logic.

Some of the dreams are quite horrific although others are more uplifting.  They all share a theme of the necessity for humans to live in balance in nature and the hubris of when they fail to do so.  The stories are also informed by Japanese folklore and history.  The movie can be slow moving at times, but it is largely a visual spectacle with some impressive music and dance set pieces.  Akira Terao appears in several segments as the dreamer.  American directors George Lucas and Steven Spielberg supported Kurosawa in bringing this film to fruition, and Martin Scorsese appears as Vincent van Gogh (who speaks English with a New York accent) in one of my favorite segments when the dreamer finds himself in Van Gogh’s art works.

This movie is considered a lesser work of Kurosawa’s but I have to admit that I really like it and include it among my all time favorite movies.

Rating: ****