What are the symbols in Akira Kurosawa's film, Dreams?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Much of the film is symbolic.  The premise of the work is that Kurosawa had "dreams" that are the different vignettes in the film.  In this, there is much in way of symbolism because dreams in this context are not meant to be taken literally.  The images that are presented have representational meaning.  For example, "The Blizzard" can be seen as the symbolic struggle within human consciousness.  Kurosawa constructs consciousness as a battle of walking uphill on a mountain during a blizzard, representative of harrowing conditions, lack of vision, and difficulty besieging human beings.  There is a constant battle that the walkers have against the elements.  The symbol here is that there is more in way of struggle than of contentment.  The temptations to succumb  to these adversaries are present in the vignette.  The symbolism here is that there are more reasons to stop persevering and advancing, and there is much in way of compelling reasons to stop doing so.  Yet, while others succumb and fall by the wayside, there are reasons to continue to persevere, to struggle, and to endure, with the hope of eventual triumph present.  This ends up serving as the ultimate symbol of how humans face adversarial conditions and can end up triumphing in the final analysis.  This ends up becoming a symbol of what it means to be human in the modern setting.