Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Opening in a fierce rainstorm we find two men (a woodcutter and a priest) taking shelter in the dilapidated ruins of a old city gate.  A third man (a commoner) runs in from the rain and sees that both men look very troubled and deep in thought.  They tell him of a rape and murder that happened a few days ago.  This is where RASHOMON makes movie history, because instead of just telling a straightforward story it tells the same story from multiple viewpoints.

The woodcutter and the priest tell the commoner about how earlier in court (yes, these stories themselves are told secondhand) the bandit, the wife, the police agent and the victim (who's story is told via a medium!) all told their versions of the story and we, the viewer, see them played out.  Added to this the priest and the woodcutter also saw some of what happened in person and they tell the commoner.  So in all we get six different people telling the story (or a portion of the story) and for all we know they could all be incorrect!

Added to this novel approach at storytelling we get some masterful cinematography by Kazuo (UGETSU, FLOATING WEEDS) Miyagawa, great acting by an impressive cast (I was especially blown away by Machiko Kyo who I thought was fantastic!), haunting music by Fumio (UGETSU, SEVEN SAMURAI) Hayasaka, great editing (by Kurosawa himself), a legendary script by Shinobu (SEVEN SAMURAI, HARAKIRI) Hashimoto and Akira Kurosawa and the best direction by Kurosawa up to this point in his career.

I doubt that younger audiences will care for it, but anybody interested in Cinema history, especially Japanese Cinema history should check it out.  Highly recommended.