"Dodes’ka-den" is the sound a trolley makes, according to Rokku, who is obsessed with trains and pretends to an engineer day in, day out. All of the people who live in the Tokyo slum featured in Kurosawa are similarly eccentric and have a tragedy about them. Most tragic, possibly, is a girl who is wasting away making fake flowers for her drunkard uncle, who alternates between demeaning her and raping her. Or maybe it’s the little beggar boy who lives in an old VW Beetle with his dad, and creates an imaginary house on the top of a hill, and who ultimately dies from eating spoiled mackerel. All the characters range from pitiable to loathsome in this movie. It’s not one of Kurosawa’s best, but it’s still interesting and emotionally engaging.
And it makes me wonder what other onomatopoeic Japanese words are out there. I don’t think there’s any English equivalent to “dodes’ka-den”. I might be thinking about this a bit too much though.
[Photo’s from DVD Beaver]