An enchanting hymn to the joys and mysteries of childhood. Identical twin brothers, now successful artists, recall the summer of 1948 when they were eight years old and their Japanese village was a place full of wonder and... more » magic. "The brats," as they were known, spend their days skinny dipping, fishing for eels and chasing birds in the woods--when they're not busy causing mischief at home or school. This visually ravishing film follows their adventures with humor and Zen-like clarity--powerfully evoking the boys' vibrant sensations and emotions.« less
"Village of Dreams is simply enchanting. It vividly captures the heat of summer in postwar Japan as two identical twin brothers explore life in and around their village, get into all sorts of trouble with adults, and interact with each other. The viewer is soon swept into their world, a world where you are challenged in 112 minutes to listen for the crickets, smell the oppressive heat, taste their mom's cooking, and revel with them as they grow up sensing for the first time changes in themselves and their surroundings. Mieko Harada the actress who plays the twin's mother won the equivilent of an Academy Award for this portrayal. Many of us remember her as the villianess in Akira Kurosawa's RAN, what a different part this time. This film is highly recommended as an escape to another time, our lost childhood. Sit back, relax, let your senses envelope you, and enjoy VILLAGE OF DREAMS"
"The thunder-god will steal your penises"
(4 out of 5 stars)
"So says their elder sister to Seizo and Yukihito, 8-year-old twin boys growing up in a Japanese farm village. 'Village of Dreams' relates one childhood year of the twins from the perspective of one of the brothers in middle age. It has something of a Japanese 'Little Rascals' air about it which may make it seem banal to those who've seen this sort of movie before from directors around the world. Nothing really traumatizes the boys; they only have the joys and sorrows of any child: the sexual curiosity, the friendships, the mysterious and frightening actions of adults, the illnesses, etc. The film is beautifully photographed, and it makes for a quiet two hours. The DVD has no extras at all. The medieval European background music by the Caterina Early Music Ensemble seems like a strange choice for such a purely Japanese film. Perhaps the lutes, shawms, psalteries, and recorders sound as exotic and eerie to Japanese ears as tradional Japanese music sounds to Westerners."
A little slow but enjoyable
Count Zero | 03/01/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In spite of the slow pace of this movie and not so great video quality, I still found it quite enjoyable. This movie reminds me a little bit of Ozu's "Good Morning", although it does not have the same masterful skill and witty touch. This movie is like a cup of Japanese tea which you do not you gobble like soft drinks. By the way, the sound the other reviewer referred to is "Cicada", not "cricket""
A rare treat
Count Zero | Yokohama, Japan | 12/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I came across this film at a small art house theatre in New York in 1998. It was recommended to me by a Spanish director who had a Japanese wife. I have watched it a dozen times since, and never grow tired of it. The naturalistic performances Higashi draws from the twins is masterful. The film avoids sentimentality, especially in the way it handles the the uncertain fate of the ruffian new boy in school, and the one fight scene between the brothers (surely a happy accident, it is so realistic). The framing is beautiful, and unlike many Japanese films that deal with rural family life, I didn't find the pace slow at all. Strangely, practically no one in Japan seems to know of this film. Like 'Firefly Dreams,' it is evocative of a particular time and location while having universal appeal. The old witches are funny, too. One of my top five contemporary Japanese films."
Was it fun cutting down the Taro?
Daitokuji31 | Black Glass | 06/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"At the beginning of _Village of Dreams, the viewer is introduced to the painter Tashima Seizo visiting his identical twin brother Yukihiko who is also a painter. The twin brothers are working on a collection of paintings depicting scenes from their home village which, like many other small villages, has been engulfed by the urban sprawl of progress. The film consists of one uninterrupted flashback depicting the early youth of the twins.
With their father constantly away on business, the twin boys reside with their mother, older sister, and a grumpy old man. The boys are picked on at school because their mother is also their teacher. The locals believe that she shows preference to Seizo and Yukihiko because they are her children, but she heaps praise on them and sends their pieces of artwork to contests because they are good. However, this is a sore spot in the community and the locals believe that the mother just has not assimilated herself to life in a small village.
The boys also suffer because they are a bit on the small size and, after their mother is forced to leave the school, their new teacher/principal marks them as targets for his random outbursts. However, although they are picked on by both adults and children, the twins do not suffer nearly as much as a poor adopted child named Senji and a poor adorable little girl named Hatsumi who spends her days working in her family's mulberry paper mill. Near the end of the film there is a very touching scene in which a crying Hatsumi, while rinsing her bleeding chapped feet, is taunted by some older boys.
The film basically follows the daily lives of the two brothers. They spend most of their days fishing, making eel and bird traps, and avoiding feeding the old man's goat. There are also a couple of scenes in which the boys show interest in the opposite sex, including one in which one of the boys accidentally gropes his older sister while stretching.
This film is pretty good, but a bit slow. Would not recommend it to the casual fan of Japanese film, but if you want to watch a heavily nostalgic film, with a touch of magical realism, you might enjoy this one. "