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Akira Kurosawa's Dreams

8. Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams (Akira Kurosawa, 1990). Because my mother was obsessed with feeding me a high-art diet from an early age, I got to see Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams at age 10. And I never forgot the mind-boggling line in the stunning third dream: “Snow is warm.” Twenty years later, as I re-watched the film, the subtitles told me something slightly different, “The ice is hot.” More prosaic, but still deliciously paradoxical. This dream, in which a group of men try to make their way across mountains of snow to the rhythm of their own panting, unsuccessfully, made me forever fascinated by the playfulness of language and the freeing possibilities of ambivalence. Kurosawa turns what’s usually a quite soporific activity, listening to someone else’s dream account, into a series of long ludic orgasms, a spectacle so synesthetic that makes Inception feel like a silly vulgarity, an insult to what the unconscious actually produces.

 

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