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When Martin Scorsese played the role of Vincent van Gogh in the surreal Akira Kurosawa film 'Dreams'


“The term ‘giant’ is used too often to describe artists. But in the case of Akira Kurosawa, we have one of the rare instances where the term fits.”—Martin Scorsese

In 1990, the great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa release Dreams, his 28th feature film which marked the first film in 45 years on which he was the sole author of the screenplay. The film would go on to define Kurosawa’s back catalogue and involved another legendary filmmaker, Martin Scorsese, this time taking on an acting role.

Made up of eight different vignettes, Dreams was categorised as ‘magical realist’ picture and was, according to Kurosawa himself, inspired by actual dreams that the filmmaker had actually experienced throughout his life. It was this level of integrity that propelled the film into a new space.

“This imaginative Japanese production presents a series of short films by lauded director Akira Kurosawa,” the official film synopsis reads. “In one chapter, a young boy spies on foxes that are holding a wedding ceremony; the following instalment features another youth, who witnesses a magical moment in an orchard.”

One segment which caught the headlines, however, was the section entitled ‘Crows’ which stars Martin Scorsese in the lead role of the flick. The section of the film follows an aspiring artist who inadvertently enters the world of a painting and ends up meeting Vincent van Gogh.

In the clip, Van Gogh relays that the reason he cut off his left ear was because it was giving him problems during a self-portrait, that plus the expert score provided with the film makes this a curious piece to lose yourself in. Aside from Scorsese’s role in the film, the vignette is utterly captivating.

With support from the likes of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, the differing areas of Dreams are generally tied together by themes of environment, nature, childhood and spirituality.

Below, enjoy Scorsese’s effort.