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26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

By turns tragic and transcendent, Akira Kurosawa s Dodes'ka-den follows the daily lives of a group of people barely scraping by in a slum on the outskirts of Tokyo. Yet as desperate as their circumstances are, each of them--the homeless father and son envisioning their dream house; the young woman abused by her uncle; the boy who imagines himself a trolley conductor--finds reasons to carry on. Kurosawa's unforgettable film was made at a tumultuous moment in his life. And all of his hopes, fears, and artistic passion are on fervent display in this, his gloriously shot first color film.
New, restored high-definition digital transfer
Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create, a 36-minute documentary created as part of the Toho Masterworks series, about the making of Dodes'ka-den, including interviews with director Akira Kurosawa, script supervisor Teruyo Nogami, actor Yoshitaka Zushi (who played Rokkuchan), and other members of the cast and crew
Theatrical trailer
New and improved English subtitle translation
PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film historian Stephen Prince and a new interview with Nogami


A masterpiece. Embraces mankind in all its strength and folly, love and hatred, comedy and tragedy. --Los Angeles Times

Special Features


Product Details

  • Directors: Akira Kurosawa
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: March 17, 2009
  • Run Time: 144 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001O549G6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,402 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Dodes'ka-Den" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Daniel J. Hamlow HALL OF FAME on January 1, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
If I were living like any of the people of the Tokyo slums in Akira Kurosawa's first colour film, Dodes'ka-den, like them, I'd be living in illusion and imagination to counter the squalid conditions. Living for them, but in my case, it'd be drowning. That's the premise of this movie, a testament to the human spirit and how it keeps on going despite adversity.
There's no plot in this film, as it tells of the various people living in the slums, some in coloured tin corrugated roofs, others in dirty, dingy travesties of huts, and in the case of an oddball boy who pretends he's a streetcar conductor and spends all day shuffling to who knows where. He goes through the motions, putting on his cap, pushing the buttons, pulling levers, and muttering the words "Dodes'ka-den." Which leads to the title. It's a Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound a train makes on the tracks. Roughly translated, it's like clackety-clack. The smaller kids who see him throw pebbles at him and cry out "trolley crazy."
My favourite characters are the bedraggled derelict and his young son who live in a beaten up, wheelless VW bug. The son goes out at night and gets scraps from a friendly sushi shop man. During the day, the father discusses their dream house, and we see his designs, from the gate, fence, and house, come alive, with dramatic sounds and colour. He must have been an architect or designer, and he escapes his squalid condition by envisioning a dreamhouse. There's a vivid example of colour cinematography at work, when standing under glaring yellow sky, we see the eerie blue light cast on him and his son, ill from food poisoning.
The drunken buddies who swap wives are two of the most colourful, but there's an interesting theme.
Read more ›
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Felipe "Sushi" on February 22, 2005
Format: DVD
I remember seeing this movie on TV a while back and always wanting to watch it again, but found it too hard to find. I don't like how underrated this movie is. Sure its not as good as Kurosawa's masterpieces like Seven Samurai, Rashomon, and Ran (what movies are?) but it still deserves attention, as it is a great film nonetheless. Like a Yasujiro Ozu film (Floating Weeds, A Tokyo Story) this movie has a pretty simple story and characters, but deep emotions. I finally got my hands on the import DVD and its better than I even remember it. When I heard that this movie has been shaved off 100 minutes and the complete, uncut edition can't be found anywhere, I was kinda depressed. I mean, this is already a great film, but with those extra 100 minutes, (if they were really good!), could have rivaled Seven Samurai, Rashomon, and Ran as Kurosawa's masterpiece. But I guess we'll never know unless some DVD company (cough, cough... Criterion Collection) can find the original negative and give us the complete edition on DVD. How sad... a great movie like this being a box office failure, it deserves so much better than this. No wonder Kurosawa attempted suicide! Oh, well, this movie is fine as it is and still great in its cut version. I just really hope I can see the complete version someday! If you are a Kurosawa fan, you should still buy this movie! (don't be turned off at the fact that this was a commercial, financial, and box office failure!)
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 6, 2001
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Kurosawa's first color film originally came in at 244 minutes and the studio executives were aghast. They quickly cut it to about 140 minutes and reportedly destroyed the original negative in so doing. This along with the lack of public and critical acceptance at the time drove the great genius to a suicide attempt. In it's original form it could well have been Kurosawa's great masterpiece. As it is, it's a little quixotic and hard to follow, but a stunning piece of movie making. The children's train drawings shown during the prayer scenes were collected by Kurosawa from children all over Japan for this film. It is pointless to recap the story, but I just say to you see it and you'll never forget it. Perhaps Criterion could find the orignal version when it comes out on DVD, let's hope so!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bomojaz on January 12, 2006
Format: DVD
Kurosawa's first color film and a magnificently poignant and deeply human tribute to a group of slum dwellers living in a modern Japanese city. It consists of a series of vignettes, all held together by their commonly shared poverty motif, and are about: a dreamer who imagines building a mansion and his son who dies from eating spoiled food he's begged from restaurants; a crippled man who defends his ungrateful wife; a young girl who slaves for her drunken uncle who gets her pregnant; a kind old man who gives away what little he has to a thief; two drunken men who exchange wives and then switch back again; a blind man who cannot forgive his adulterous wife; and a retarded boy who imagines he operates a trolley car and goes up and down the streets hollering "Dodes 'ka-den" (which means "clackey-clack"). The scenes are at once heartbreaking and comic, and not for a moment does Kurosawa stoop to sentimentality or preachiness. The cinematography is stunning. A major movie-watching experience.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Scott on November 15, 2005
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
It doesn't say it in the Amazon description or the video box, but the film is letterboxed to about 1.66:1 (which appears to be the original aspect ratio).

Since Kurosawa was a master of using the whole frame, this is very good news. I was prepared to live with a pan-and-scan edition; finding that it was letterboxed was a very nice surprise.

Also, according to the IMDB trivia page, the "244-minute original running time" is a myth.
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Topic From this Discussion
When is it coming out on DVD?
It's out (last Year) and I think we all should all bow down and thank Criterion for doing such an amazing restoration job. The print I saw on TCM in 1999 was HORRIBLE compared to this!!
Feb 1, 2010 by Lewis R. Saul |  See all 2 posts
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