in about 100 words or less
Japan 144m, Colour
Director: Akira Kurosawa; Cast: Yoshitaka Zushi, Kin Sugai, Junzaburo Ban, Kiyoko Tange, Hisashi Igawa, Hideko Okiyama, Kunie Tanaka, Jitsuko Yoshimura, Shinsuke Minami, Yoko Kusunoki, Noboru Mitani, Hiroyuki Kawase, Hiroshi Akutagawa
Kurosawa’s Dodes’ka-den represents a startling departure from his earlier style and approach to film making. The only real similarity to his previous work is his affinity for depicting the most unfortunate members of society. However, unlike The Lower Depths (1957), to which Dodes’ka-den is arguably most similar, this film is more simply composed of a loose collection of unrelated stories and characters each with their own narrative and personal tragedy. The repeatedly gloomy stories are at times difficult to watch, and although Kurosawa’s dark humour comes through periodically, the film’s main weakness is that the storylines are so disparate. The curious lack of any effort to connect the subplots appears to be a conscious decision to symbolize the disconnection of the poor from the balance of industrialized society. While certainly effective, it also has the unfortunate side-effect of removing most of the joy which Kurosawa’s had infused in his earlier films (Klaus Ming January 2011).