I just watched this film for the first time the other day, after having seen almost all of Kurosawa’s “classics”, and the picture just completely blew me away. However, I went in not expecting to get much out of it, seeing the large amount of negativity it’s gotten.
After watching the film, I looked back over the negative reviews, and it appeared to me that the largest criticism was that it was not like other, more highly-regarded Kurosawa films, in the sense that it was neither a samurai period piece, nor one of his urban dramas. It seems that judging a certain film based on comparing it with the same director’s other subject matters is a little ridiculous.
Yes, the film didn’t have a straight storyline, as it was much more episodic in structure, but that is not necessarily a bad thing just because Seven Samurai didn’t do it! To say so is absurd, and I’ve seen it being said!
In fact, one of the things I loved so much about the film was how little it felt like anything else Kurosawa has done. It sort of felt like a more bizarre, much darker, Ozu film, in the sense that it concentrated on a set of people in different subgroups, in a limited area.
Can anyone who didn’t like the film tell me why, besides the fact that it differs from others in Kurosawa’s repertoire? Have other people noticed similar criticism?
I bought this one without ever seeing it and I loved every second of it. It’s definitly a masterpiece and ranks high on my list of favorite Kurosawa films, but to me it does feel like a Kurosawa film, I’m not sure why? But my friend didn’t like it and said “this is nothing like Seven Samurai!” So maybe it’s just that the film doesn’t feel familiar to many people so it doesn’t resonate with many viewers used to Kurosawa’s more traditional style and not exposed to other foreign films of that era.
i’ve only seen about seven kurosawa, but this might be my favorite. quirky, human, weird, visually amazing, funny, sad… you get the idea
The film could have been better if maybe an hour were edited out of it.
The opening sequence with the retarded child is truly poetic and inspiring, but other bits fall flat.
I watched right after the Criterion release, and that was my only viewing, so I can’t get too specific about what I didn’t like about the movie right now, but I can get back to you in a day or so.
It is also needlessly slow.
I realized some time ago that one of the things I really enjoy about Kurosawa’s films is just being along for the ride and not so much about arriving at a particular destination. Dodes’Ka-Den is pretty much plotless, so it was all about the ride, one I enjoyed very much. I thought it was paced rather well and I never felt bored or that it was too long, just allowing myself to enjoy the scenery.
If someone were to compare this only to Seven Samurai, I could see where they would be put off by it. Even though it is markedly different from much of his other work, it still felt like a Kurosawa film to me too. It’s the humanity of the characters that he brings out. Even in the midst of heartache and despair, there are nuggets of humor and hope. That’s they way life is, and he portrays it very well. This flick is a good’n.
This is the second Kurosawa film I had the same opinion about: I didn’t ‘get it’ the first time I watched it but on second viewing I changed my opinion considerably and thought it to be a masterpiece.
Interestingly the other Kurosawa film I had the same opinion about is The Lower Depths which in many ways is a similar film: character driven with not a great deal of plot.
Kurosawa’s use of vivid primary colours showed his background as an artist and created a feast for the eyes.
I really would love to have seen the 4 hour cut, a great film.
I think this and One Wonderful Sunday are his most under-appreciated films. My biggest problem with Dodes’ka-Den is that it covers too much ground ( I have no interest, other than curiosity, in seeing a 4 hour cut)—some of the individual scenes are as good or better than anything he ever did, more heartbreaking, more human than most of his other films.