18 November 2016



This is an anthology film in eight distinct segments or vignettes, although once you've watched all eight you'll realise how much they're all linked together by theme. They're all based on dreams that the legendary director says he's had on a recurring basis. Well, whether he really had 'em or he didn't, he's made a cracking film that you really have to see on a nice wide telly to get the full benefit, haha. Cinema-sized would, of course, be even better...!

Let's go through the segments one by one and see what the gist of 'em is. SUNSHINE THROUGH THE RAIN is about a small boy who, after a rain shower, illicitly witnesses the wedding procession of the kitsune or foxes in the forest, despite warnings from his mother. In order to attain forgiveness from the foxes (and his ma!), he's got to search for them where they live, in that mystical place that lies somewhere under the rainbow...

In THE PEACH ORCHARD, a young lad mourns his family's cutting down of their peach tree orchard. Until, that is, the trees' spirits come back to life in the form of beautiful, exquisitely-dressed dolls that traditionally go on display during the Doll Festival, which in turn takes place in Spring when the peach blossoms are in full bloom. The spectacle they make is gloriously-coloured and the boy finds his 'spirits' lifting as the dolls afford him one last glance at the trees he mourns.

THE BLIZZARD tells the story of four mountaineers who are trying to make their way back to their camp in the titular blizzard. As if the snow, ice and biting wind weren't bad enough, an evil spirit in the form of a young woman turns up to encourage the last man standing to lie down in the snow and give in to nice, warm blissful 'sleep' like his buddies. Does he listen to this rather persuasive young lady, or does he make one more attempt to fight for his life...?

THE TUNNEL is where the dreams really start to kick ass, if you'll excuse my use of the technical expression, haha. A tired, dispirited soldier returning from World War Two is unexpectedly re-united with his entire platoon in the creepy dark titular tunnel. There's just one problem with this joyous reunion, however. Every single one of 'em is stone-dead...

This vignette is spooky and heartbreaking, and it's the first one to star the man who's playing the Kurosawa character, that is to say, the dreamer, the man who's dreaming the dreams. He appears in all the rest of the segments from here on, and he's even wearing Kurosawa's trademark soft hat, which is nice and sweet. All together now: Aw...!

CROWS rather startlingly features Martin Scorsese as the famous Dutch artist, Vincent Van Gogh. The be-hatted (is that a word...?) Kurosawa character finds himself actually inside the brilliantly-coloured world of Van Gogh's paintings after going to view them in a gallery.

He's thrilled to come face-to-face with the painter himself, who rather ungraciously gives him an insight into his painting process and an alternate version of the story of how he lost that ear...! The Kurosawa character winds up in Van Gogh's painting, WHEAT FIELD WITH CROWS, after being told in no uncertain terms by the great painter that he's (the Kurosawa man) holding up the process of genius and could he kindly bugger off now...? You know what these super-talented divas are like...!

MOUNT FUJI IN RED is a terrifying vision of things that so easily could happen. A nuclear power plant near Mount Fuji is exploding, reactor by reactor, and once the petrified Japanese citizens have fled to their deaths in the nearby ocean, one man, the hero of five of the segments, is left to protect a woman and two small children from the deadly red radioactive gases that are inexorably coming their way. This one's scary because it's so very real...

THE WEEPING DEMON is set in a freakishly frightening post-apocalyptic world, which at
first looks like it might be the aftermath from the previous vignette. Our man, the Kurosawa character, encounters the titular 'weeping demon' who, along with others of his kind, are bemoaning a terrible nuclear holocaust which has destroyed all natural and animal life on earth.

When we find out that many of the demons are former millionaires and government officials whose fault this whole catastrophe is, I think we're really discovering what Kurosawa thinks about people who've, to all intents and purposes, raped the environment with greedy intent and destroyed mankind's future on Earth. This is the common theme that binds the segments together and it's clearly something the master-director feels strongly about. The man makes a good point...!

THE VILLAGE OF THE WATERMILLS is the most visually-stunning of all the vignettes, except for maybe THE PEACH ORCHARD. Our man in the soft travellers' hat has arrived at a picturesque little out-of-the-way village where, an old man tells him, the villagers have all eschewed technology in favour of the simple, natural life.

Our man is intrigued and impressed, and I can't say I blame him. Yes, if there were no computers, for example, I wouldn't be able to bring you guys this movie review but there are still some things from the technical age that drive me nuts. Example? Sure. The way you step outside the door and everyone you meet is gawking at their phones with distinctly anti-social headphones in their ears...!

All people really need is clean air and clean water, insists the old man, not 'stupid inventions that make people unhappy.' Sigh. Doesn't it sound lovely...? If only we could, film fans. If only we could...

This last vignette ends with the 'celebration' of an old lady's funeral in the village. When folks die in the village, the old man explains, the villagers celebrate the fact that they've 'worked hard, lived well and are to be congratulated on a job well done.' What a wonderful way to look at death. The music that accompanies the funeral is out of this world. You must, must must hear it.

This marvellous film is on release now (Blu-Ray) thanks to THE CRITERION COLLECTION. As always, there are a host of extras included that will delight the Kurosawa fans out there, such as a documentary on the making of the film that lasts a whopping two-and-a-half hours. It's even longer than the film itself, which is famously long, haha. If that ain't value for money, I swear to you that I don't know what is...!


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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