1 March 2006 | Polaris_DiB
Songs and tales
The movie starts out pretty uncomfortably, two peasants in 16th century Japan who dream of richness and glory so blindly, they can't even hear the pretty straight-forward protests of their loving wives who try to convince them that their happiness is fine at home. When one, a pottery smith, makes a small bundle selling his wares, they decide to make a much larger batch together and become rich.
Forced out of their homes by an approaching war and uncertain where to go, they take their wares to a thriving market place, where the second peasant's ambition to be a samurai divides them and causes all four characters, the two peasants and their wives, to be separated, all fending for themselves amongst the war and various classes differently.
At this point the film reverses itself and instead of being a pretty skin-deep, tragic bud of greed, it blooms into a beautiful and haunting tale of obsession and illusion. The two main stories of the peasants and their wives are opposite only in their imaged realism, where one peasant falls completely under the curse of an enchanting ghost and the other lies and steals his way to fame, only both of them are eventually knocked down from their own hubris and forced to finally awaken to what their wives have said all along.
It's quite exquisite, this movie, with its long takes and its lack of the usual constructs that make up messages of obsession and greed. Once it gets beyond the small, uncomfortable, claustrophobic world of the peasant's home, it becomes audaciously challenging and mysterious, so that the same small home becomes amazingly wonderful and comforting. The very essence of the movie is breathed into the emotions of the audience in very subtle ways, making a very unforgettable cinematic experience.