Friday, February 16, 2007


"A rape and murder in medieval Japan are recounted in four flashback sequences, as seen through the eyes of the three people involved and a witness to the incident. Each version differs from the others, leaving viewers to draw their own conclusions on what actually transpired. Akira Kurosawa's breakthrough drama stars Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo."

Stream or download Akira Kurosawa's 'Rashomon' from Internet Archive
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Like all of Kurosawa's films, Rashomon is critique of feudal mores. Where similar films of the same period romanticized the Samurai borrowing from the mythology of a noble warrior class, Kurosawa showed war for what it is. His Samarai are brutal and amoral, concerned only with their own station in life and serving at the behest of warlords

Rashomon is also a movie about truth, and how power affects truth. In some ways Kurosawa puts himself into this film by his very absence in that one is made to wish for a truth teller that could cut through the various accounts.

Thus the observer, in the form of the camera is the only figure that is neither victim nor victimizer, but stands outside of the domain of power.

The observer is encouraged to judge the characters to see how they distort the truth. By the end of the film one's skepticism is heightened.

The observer/camera/filmaker sees the attempts of the powerful to make their murderous ways seem noble and good as deceits. The film Rashomon is also remarkable because of its use of light - a mix of western and eastern aesthetics. Traditional Japanese art did not use shadow, but here Kurosawa uses shadow to create a kabuki theatre effect so that the faces of the warriors are shadowed in such as way as to communicate -- feelings of anger, of despair

~ Luther Blissett

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