“Dodes’kaden” depicts and examines the conditions of life and of the human soul in today’s urban civilization. Kurosawa is not too interested in the polished city individuals monotonously rushing for work and back and living an artificial life of prescribed goals and standardized interests and tastes. Kurosawa defines these people through visual metaphors of cars. But real heroes of DDSKD are semi-homeless paupers living on the giant dump in surrealistic decorations instead of houses, with a background of, as if, expressionistic painting. By these aesthetic analogies between the given and the created Kurosawa emphasizes a surrealistic condition of people’s life and expressionistic condition of their imagination. People’s way of life and their feelings, described in DDSKD, reflect the basic psychological archetypes constituting the existential legacy of humankind. Each character represents a certain anthropological model of life and certain way of the perception of the world. In “Dodes’kaden” it is, as if, human souls, abandoning their social selves, are retreated/banished from the industrial world of work and consumerism and settle outside as a colorful shadows of themselves.

Kurosawa questions the expediency of technological orientation of today’s civilization which condemns human life to fruitless nomadism (parodied by the endless trips of mentally disturbed teenager Rokkuchan on his imaginary streetcar through the giant dump) and neurotic restlessness and makes human dreams escapist and mentally disturbed. It is as if human beings, instead of learning how to live and how to improve the conditions of their lives, tried to avoid real life through pursuing mirages and vain and absurd goals. Question of being becomes a question of how to detour being. Real problems of human life are systematically put aside, postponed into future and never resolved and, as a result, they crystallized into morbid but majestically narcissistic characters of DDSKD living their lives amidst picturesque garbage on a waste land. It is human history itself (together with human nature) that has become the waste product on the periphery of a sterile world of urbanistic post-modernism populated by cars.

DDSKD, Kurosawa’s first color film, starts and ends with multicolored drawings of streetcars – the favorite occupation of children of various nations, which are so unnaturally bright in the moving lights of street traffic that it is as if all the importance, all substance of life has gone to these drawings, leaving people depressed, apathetic, senile, abandoned, wretched, tragically comic, irresistible and unforgettable.

The film provides an elaborate criticism of Western and Eastern cultural traditions in which rational, superstitious and prejudicial ingredients are fused together, and together in one decide the destiny of humankind.

The music of Toru Takemitsu is so expressive and so “Dodes’kaden” that, paradoxically, it has its own independent value and makes the composer an equal partner of the revered auteur Kurosawa in his creation of this exceptional work of art. The acting is simultaneously realistic and epic, emotionally involving and scholarly articulate.

The conglomeration of DDSKD’s characters represents Kurosawa’s classification of universal human types outside the standardization of human work and conformist functioning in society.

Kurosawa is rehearsing with Yoshitaka Zushi (Rokkuchan) the scene which can be named as “The Demiurge of the waste land”

Rokkuchan in “Dodes’kaden” personifies the Demiurge of our nomadic civilization which had spread to the whole planet and is planning the expansion into Space’s “final frontiers”. Here we see how Rokkuchan is connecting imaginary electric wires with his imaginary tram. There is a real electric line behind him – the composition problematizing the very contradiction between imaginary and “real” technology in today’s world.

The father, homeless architect by education (Noboru Mitani), explains to his son the psychological motifs inside the art of architecture.

Poisoned by the leftover food he collected asking for handouts for his father and himself, the boy is trying to recover for the sake of his father – he knows that father is too shy to beg and will not survive without him.

The wise man of the slums Mr. Tamba (Atsushi Watanabe) and the father-architect are looking at the reality of death of the architect’s son.

Shima (the limping man with a tic – Junzaburo Ban) is trying to explain to his guests why his wife is not so hospitable.

Posted on May 26, 2012 –   Akira Kurosawa’s “Dodes’kaden” (1970) As Anthropological “Map” of Human Psychological Condition (Kurosawa’s Contemplation on the Living Art of Archetypal Crystallization)  by Acting-Out Politics