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Genre: Drama (Japan)
Starring: Yoshitaka Zushi, Kin Sugai
Overview: Also known as Clickety-Clack, this is the tale of a community living in a slum, the trials and tribulations of poor people eking out a meagre existence.
Dodesukaden is one of those films under Kurosawa's belt that is known to be a 'lesser work'. It's strange to imagine that after a very successful Red Beard, it would be a full five years before The Emperor produced his next film. Yet, with the end of high-budget Japanese film and with Kurosawa as one of the directors who was known for being epic in scale, it was inevitable.
Apparently, it was with the production efforts of three other directors that Clickety-Clack was made possible. Though this film was nominated for a best foreign film Oscars, it was a flop. In hindsight, a film's worth cannot always be gauged by its box office, but in the case of Dodesukaden, the qualities of failure are, unfortunately, timeless.
Dodesukaden is the story of a ghetto, where poor people from beggars and drunks to the disabled and mentally challenged live in a post-war garbage dump. It's the story of a place where society's lessers live out their lives.
The biggest issue that exists with Dodesukaden is that Kurosawa has already made this film. It was in 1957, it starred Toshiro Mifune and it was called The Lower Depths. The problem with making the same film twice is obvious. Hitchcock's two versions of The Man Who Knew Too Much, to Hitchcock, was his way of doing justice to the first 'amateur attempt'. With Clickety-Clack, however, the story is all too similar without being any better. Instead of the Edo-period Japan, we look at a post WWII Japan. The characters are different, yet their dynamic is less meshed with one another, their lives aren't like those in The Lower Depths who all lived under the same roof. The tales are more like short stories that can each stand alone, but together do nothing more than show that this is all set in the same place.
The pacing is slow. The characters are too numerous for adequate individual study. Some tales are even all too unfinished. One of the many messages that reached me was how much this community lacked cohesion and could not properly survive without being more closely knit, and I hope this was the main difference Kurosawa intended to convey from The Lower Depths.
Performance: 8 Cinematography: 7 Script: 7 Plot: 7 Mood: 7
Overall Rating: 72% (Don't Deskaden)
Overall, because there were so many tales, none seemed more important, was more touching or taught lessons more deeply than any other, and hence the film's characters lost the punch I've grown accustomed to in this man's works, and starvation, illness, vice and incest certainly shouldn't be themes that lack any sort of punch.