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Dodes'ka-den (1970)

Dodesukaden (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 17 October 1974 (USA)
Various tales in the lives of Tokyo slum dwellers, including a mentally deficient young man obsessed with driving his own commuter trolley.

Director:

Akira Kurosawa

Writers:

Akira Kurosawa (screenplay), Hideo Oguni (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Yoshitaka Zushi Yoshitaka Zushi ... Roku-chan
Kin Sugai Kin Sugai ... Okuni
Toshiyuki Tonomura Toshiyuki Tonomura ... Taro Sawagami
Shinsuke Minami Shinsuke Minami ... Ryotaro Sawagami
Yûko Kusunoki Yûko Kusunoki ... Misao Sawagami
Junzaburô Ban Junzaburô Ban ... Yukichi Shima
Kiyoko Tange Kiyoko Tange ... Mrs. Shima
Michio Hino Michio Hino ... Mr. Ikawa
Keiji Furuyama Keiji Furuyama ... Mr. Matsui
Tappei Shimokawa Tappei Shimokawa ... Mr. Nomoto
Kunie Tanaka ... Hatsutaro Kawaguchi
Jitsuko Yoshimura ... Yoshie Kawaguchi
Hisashi Igawa ... Masuo Masuda
Hideko Okiyama Hideko Okiyama ... Tatsu Masuda
Tatsuo Matsumura ... Kyota Watanaka
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Storyline

An anthology of overlapping vignettes exploring the lives of a variety of characters who happen to live in a suburbial shantytown atop a rubbish dump: The boy Roku-chan lives in a fantasy world in which he is a tram conductor. In his fantasy world, he is both the tram and the tram driver and follows a set route and schedule through the dump, reciting the refrain "Dodeska-den", "clickety-clack", mimicking the sound of his vehicle. Ryotaro, a hairbrush maker by trade, is saddled with supporting many children whom his unfaithful wife Misao[c] has conceived in different adulterous affairs, but is wholeheartedly devoted to them. A pair of drunken day laborers (Masuda and Kawaguchi) who engage in wife-swapping, only to return to their own wives the next day as though nothing has happened. A stoic, bleak man named Hei is frequented by Ocho who appears to be his ex-wife, and he watches emotionless as she takes care of his domestic chores. Shima, the man with the tic, is always defending his ... Written by lament

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

17 October 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dodes'ka-den See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The artwork used as the cover of the region-one Criterion Collection DVD is Akira Kurosawa's original artwork for the film. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Roku-chan: I know I often ask this, but please listen to me, dear Buddha. Please make my mother smarter.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in American Beauty (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

 
beautiful/tragic character study
10 July 2010 | by gerold-firlSee all my reviews

Dodes'ka-den is the monotonous sound of the trolley clickety-clacking down the rails; the mindless drone of a brain damaged or retarded "trolley freak" acting out his repetitive fantasy in the Tokyo city dump where he lives with his long-suffering mother; and, a cinematic masterpiece from Kurosawa.

The film doesn't have a traditional plot, it's a snapshot of the lives of a strange ensemble of characters who live in the dump. (In much of the third world today, municipal dumps are inhabited by poor people who scavenge trash to make their living. It wasn't that long ago that the same was true in the US, by the way. In the late 1800's the NYC dump was home to a population of desperate scavengers too.) Kurosawa does his usual brilliant job of creating a full spectrum of characters, except that here most of them are damaged and dysfunctional. Kurosawa is loved for his portrayals of honor, courage, and heroism. Some find it more difficult to appreciate his unblinking examination of loss, failure, wickedness and despair. This film lays bare some of the dark corners of the human heart, and presents the full spectrum of human reality, warts and all - but with an emphasis on the warts.

It's not a dark film nonetheless. These tragic blighted lives are shown with zen clarity and humor. We see a cross-section of human psychology, both good and bad, and the genius of Kurosawa makes it clear that each of us share the feelings and foibles of these Tokyo dregs.


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