A Dream is a Genius
The below is an excerpt from KUROSAWA Akira's book A Dream is a Genius, pp. 180-182 (ISBN 4-16-355570).
Edited by Bungeishunju. ©1999 Bungeishunju. Translated from Japanese by Nostalghia.com Japan correspondent
I was on very intimate terms with Tarkovsky. I used to have my office
in the old building of the Akasaka Prince Hotel, where he managed
somehow to visit me. It was our first encounter. And then he saw how
Akasaka looked when night fell. You may see what I mean by viewing
Solaris. He made a wonderful use of Akasaka by night, although
he had the images processed by reflecting them against the mirrors.
The night scene of Metropolitan Highway with bright red tail lamps
coming and going symbolizes the future city life. You know, I saw the
film by preview in Moscow for the first time, and the scene of the
highway came. To my great surprise, it proves to be the route leading
to my office! "Oh! I am heading for my office now." I felt as if I
were doing so while staying in Moscow.
Every film by Tarkovsky is marvelous, indeed. He was especially marvelous
in handling the Water Element, as seen, for example, in Solaris and Sacrifice.
He was somehow able to shoot a pond or water pool as transparent as to allow us to see through
to the very bottom. You know, if you do it in an ordinary way, you will for sure find
the sky reflected on the water surface. I, too, wanted to shoot water as he
did, in making an episode of the Village of Watermills in Dreams. Can you
imagine what we
did to achieve that? We set up huge cranes soaring to the sky to put up a
huge black cloth to prevent the sky reflection on the water surface. Now the
riverbed became visible.
You know, the crew on the space station in Solaris suffer from the
longing to return to Planet Earth. That is why we see a long, long
series of sequences of nature on earth, such as waterweeds softly
dancing in a river. It makes the audience really want to return to
Earth, indeed. The Japanese distribution company told me to leave a
bit of it out, because nature shots were too long. If you had done
so, the film should have become meaningless. After all, my insistence
saved the film from being cut.
This shows that there is something a little bit difficult about his
films. I am sure, however, that it is to his great merit. His films are
somehow a little bit different from the rest of many ordinary films
easy to understand. I hear his father is a famous poet. So Andrei
has a great poetic talent and quality.
Tarkovsky told me that he always sees Seven Samurai before shooting
his new films. This is to say that I always see his Andrei Rublov
before shooting. [...]
Andrei was an amicable, charming man. I heard
he was in hospital in Paris when I was staying in Europe. I was
anxious to inquire after him, and desperately tried to find out the
hospital, until at last I had to give up because of the departure time
of the plane. [...] Soon after that, I got news of his death. Well, in
short, somehow, I always felt as if he was my younger brother.
This book was published in 1999, one year after Kurosawa's death.
It is composed of three sections: Chapter 1 Kurosawa in Monologue,
Chapter 2 Kurosawa in Dialogue, and Chapter 3 Kurosawa's death.
Chapter 3 contains a section called 100 films of Kurosawa's choice.
It is edited and compiled by Kazuko Kurosawa, his daughter, who writes in her
"My father always said that the films he loved were too many to count, and
to make a top ten rank.
That explains why you cannot find in this list many of the titles of the
films he regarded as wonderful. The principle of the choice is: one film for
one director, entry of the unforgettable films about which I and my father
had a lovely talk, and of some ideas on cinema that he had cherished but did
not express in public. This is the way I made a list of 100 films of
Concentrating on this work, sometimes I burst into tears because I could not
resist from the wish to see my father again, sometimes I regret that I should
have asked him about many more things.
His talks are all based on the materials published on TV or journals or
ones not yet made public."
Solaris is number 66 on "the list," and the corresponding
caption reads as follows:
"I was on very intimate terms with Tarkovsky. I always felt like he was my
younger brother. Drinking together, we sang the theme of Seven Samurai
together. His expression of water element! it was unique, indeed. Watching
this film always makes me want to return to Earth."
Footnote: Number one on the list is Withering Flowers, 1919 by Griffith,
and Number 100 is Hana-bi, 1997 by Takeshi. A draft translation of the whole list is found here