Review of 'Rashomon'

rashomon.jpg It is fudal Japan and the rain is coming down on the gate of “Rashomon” where a woodcutter and priest recount details of a horrific event. A woman has been attacked in the forest by a bandit and her husband has been killed. The trial of the bandit reveals different perspectives on what happened, from the wife, the bandit and, bizarrely, the husband speaking through a medium. In a surprising reveal at the end of the film we learn another version of the story but do we actually learn the truth?

Even now this simple story holds up with a telling tale of human frailty and hubris. Each story is tinged with the self-interest of the storyteller leading to no firm conclusion to what actually happened. The personality flaws of the characters are thrown into the harsh light of day as their stories are told.

Amazing cinematography features throughout with camera work that would become commonplace in the industry in the years that followed. The dynamic camera movements following characters as they walk around the forest and being unafraid to put the camera right in the face of the actors draws us into the film unlike any other previous film. I was lucky to see a newly remastered version of the film from the BFI which really allows us to see the meticulous detail Kurosawa brought to this film (extras included on the DVD release are regretfully un-enlightening so can be largely ignored).

The actors do a reasonable job with the story though the endless scenes of the wife crying are a bit tiring as she seems to have no end of tears as the minutes go on, the bizarre behaviours of the bandit jar, and the action scenes are largely laughable but look beyond this to an interesting story from a master filmmaker and you cannot fail to be dazzled. A classic from the master of Japanese cinema: Akira Kurosawa.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2018-08-12

Directed by: Akira Kurosawa

Studio: Daiei Motion Picture Company

Year: 1950

Length: 88 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure

Other reviewed films by Akira Kurosawa: