‘The Criterion Collection’ Presents Kurosawa’s ‘Dreams’

‘The Criterion Collection’ Presents Kurosawa’s ‘Dreams’ December 26, 2016

dreams-bannerI’ve been chilling for Christmas, so here’s the first of two guest posts on wildly different subjects. We start with Catholic video-production professional and film editor James Zambrana, looking at an offering from The Criterion Collection, a home-video distribution company focusing on important classic and contemporary films.

So, if Santa didn’t make all your film dreams come true, here’s a chance to give yourself a little Christmas magic.

Take it away, James:

Akira Kurosawa is undeniably one the true auteurs of cinema. His body of work has shaped the minds of filmmakers the world over from George Lucas to Martin Scorsese.

Growing up in the Japan in the early 20th century, Kurosawa work expertly blends archetypal characters and and their stories into the universal language of film. Kurosawa is the Mozart of Japanese cinema. If you never heard of him before, watch “Seven Samurai.”

Kurosawa’s most personal work is “Dreams” (1990), in which he shares personal dreams and Japanese folk stories. What is so immediately fascinating about “Dreams” is just that — it’s Akira Kurosawa’s dream. It’s rare that we the viewers ever receive something so rich and complex and personal from such a legendary filmmaker and artist.

Of all the sequences, I found the dream entitled “The Blizzard” to be particularly fascinating and reminiscent of the Catholic imagination. The dream opens with a man under snow freezing to death unable to move. We hold on his face then a woman with a veil appears warms up the man with her a blanket and her veil. After giving him words of affirmation, she vanishes. The man then begins to move and saves his other companions who are buried in the snow. They joyfully awake and see their home in the distance. They are saved!

What is so moving about this image is the clear parallels between the Virgin Mary and this mysterious lady. To me it’s a clear indication how Mary is an archetype mother written on the hearts of men. Akira Kurosawa was not a Catholic or even a Christian, yet within this dream, one cannot help but notice the transcendence of the Judeo-Christian themes.

The Criterion Collection did provide me with a copy of “Dreams” for this post. If you have never seen “Dreams” before, there has never been a better time. The newly updated 4K version, remastered on Blu-ray, comes with new commentary and special features. It’s vibrant and thought provoking. Indeed, there has never been a better time to dream than right now.

The Criterion Collection is committed to preserving film in its best form and making this available on DVD.

Image: Courtesy The Criterion Collection

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