Another dream it was in a series. On the plain black screen figures appeared. The language was unknown. It meant "Mount Fuji in Red".
Since the geography project in which the nine year old had presented the 'land of the rising sun' as best as a nine-year old could, Japan became the land of dreams. Internet was still a few years away. Scourging through books in libraries, Japan unfolded in its mystic charm. The kimono, the island country that feels the sun first - so to say - every day of the nine-year old's life, the eyes like little arcs on the face, and Mount Fuji, the dormant volcano, pristine in its silence, against the backdrop of the aqua sky - enchanted the mind.
|Mount Fuji as the nine-year old found it|
Ah! It was a land of dreams; it was a dream in which the music from the string instruments always flowed on, as can only happen in dreams.
Mount Fuji was standing tall. It was changing hues - red, orange, blood red. There were a series of explosions behind Fuji. There was a mad rush of people. The middle-aged man in black and white formals mused : "Japan is so small, there is no escape." The woman, holding on to the hand of a child, another child secured on her back, spoke as a living being speaks till s/he is dead. She said, "We all know that! No way out! But still we have to try. No other way! "
Akira Kurosawa stepped into the world of coloured films towards the end of his directorial life. After directing films in the black/white medium for about twenty-five years, he used colour for the first time in Dodesukaden in 1970. The film was a financial disaster possibly because it was unlike any film that Kurosawa had done. Along with the explosion of colours in every frame, the camera was used almost as a detached observer, with no desire to create a causal narrative. It was simply watching things, people, places.
It is truly an experience to observe the use of colours by a director who has worked for long in black/white.
Dreams (1990) (accompanied by Ishiro Honda in direction) presents eight 'dreams', that, critics argue are Kurosawa's own. However, it seems that Kurosawa travels from the personal to the universal in them; as dreams usually do.
Dreams are never what they seem. They never tell the whole story. They hold un-uttered fortunes in them. It is here that the psychoanalyst and the viewer of Dreams gain a space of existence in disturbance, like volcanic islands in placid lives.
Mount Fuji, the landscape from the land of dreams, appeared in a macabre splendour in Dreams. In spite of the fact that it was still dormant, there was absolute chaos. Something tells you that the scene is progressing to absolute annihilation. This dream titled "Mount Fuji in Red" is actually a nightmare of a nuclear meltdown.
On the morning of the festival of colours, a peculiar scene from this 'dream' kept coming back amidst the waking life: the scene of the coloured clouds gradually shrouding Mount Fuji as the middle aged man in formals explained
Radioactivity was invisible. And because of its danger, they coloured it. But that only lets you know which kind kills you. Death's calling card.
The different radioactive elements had been coloured so as to identify them. The man in formals, a man who had worked at the nuclear plants that were exploding, named one radioactive element after another, specifying how it affects human beings. The woman with two kids was increasingly becoming horrified. Her words seemed to come from beyond the cultural calm that Japan was showing in the waking life, faced with the possibility of a nuclear meltdown. She screamed as she held her kids to her bosom:
They told us that nuclear plants were safe. Human accident is the danger, not the nuclear plant itself. No accidents, no danger. That's what they told us.
As I remembered all the clouds of colours that we created on Holi, a prickly sensation passed through the body. As I remembered how we used to run after anyone who wanted to stay away from colours on Holi, I shivered. The memory of faces smeared in red, in yellow, in purple made me feel weak in the knee. The stomach curled up, trying to expunge the nightmare of the dreams that can be tangible and real in the crudest manner possible. How horrific it seemed, that, on a day celebrating the vigour of life, the terror of colours was engulfing the mind.
Mount Fuji looked as if it was a glowing hot iron. And then, there was no one around except the woman with her kids, the middle aged man in formals and a young man in jacket. And then, there were only the woman with her kids and the young man frantically waving his jacket at the coloured clouds - red, yellow, purple engulfing them.
I do not know what numbed the mind more - the possibility of a nuclear meltdown or the truth that human beings, like you and me, had chosen to develop this power on which they truly have no control.
You can watch "Mount Fuji in Red" from Kurosawa's Dreams here.
(Special thanks to Arijit for discussing the films and enriching my understanding of them)