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DODESKADEN (1970, JPN) – 8/10

After his contract with the production company Toho expired in 1966, for which he had made all the most famous films, the greatest Japanese filmmaker of all time, Akira Kurosawa, wanted to change something in his career. Previously, Kurosawa had offers from abroad, and at the end of the sixties it seemed that he might finally try his hand at Hollywood. Unfortunately, the film based on his idea was only made almost two decades later in the action film “Runaway Train” with Jon Voight and Eric Roberts by the Russian Andrei Konchalovski, and another, much more ambitious project for 20th Century Fox about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor did not come to life with Kurosawa either. as a helmsman.

After three weeks of filming “Tora! Tora! Tora!” which was later completed by Richard Flesicher, the American producers chased Kurosawa away, believing him to be mentally ill due to his filming methods. It turned out that Kurosawa spent several years of his life preparing the war spectacle, and when the film appeared, it was not mentioned at all. He returned to Japan, founded his own production company and five years after he made the typical samurai film “Akahige” (Redbeard), he made a film that was completely different from everything he had made before. “Dodeskaden” was also the first color film by the great Japanese master, and he shot the drama, which takes place in a Tokyo garbage dump, under the influence of the Japanese new wave, which he had previously rejected.

And it was not a samurai spectacle as the audience was used to, but rather a social drama, or rather an anthology made up of vignettes from the lives of various people connected by the fact that they live in the poorest part of Tokyo, located right next to a garbage dump. It is a modernist drama about people who are condemned to poverty, to repeating their own mistakes, who seem to be in a vicious circle from which there is no way out. All these characters seem to be symbolized by a mentally handicapped young man who almost has the role of a narrator from a Greek tragedy. An additional similarity with Greek tragedy is a kind of choir of women who are constantly doing laundry and commenting on everything that is happening around them.

And Kurosawa finely weaves the story of all these unfortunate destinies, so we have a poor and dirty father and son who live in some abandoned slum, an old and poor artist, a father and daughter who are constantly fighting and the like. Unfortunately, “Dodeskaden” turned out to be a colossal commercial failure and Kurosawa nearly went bankrupt. At the age of 60, he could no longer find any work, and everything culminated at the end of December 1971, when he tried to kill himself by cutting the veins on his arms and neck. However, his life was saved and he spent the next year recovering mentally and physically, assuming that he would never record anything again. However, at the beginning of 1973, he was contacted by the Soviet Mosfilm and two years later Kurosawa shot the adventure drama “Dersu Uzala” in the USSR, which not only confirmed that there is still fuel in the old master, but this film brought the Soviet Union the Oscar for the best film outside the English speaking area.