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Ryūnosuke Akutagawa

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Rashomon



Title: Rashomon
Directed by:
Akira Kurosawa
Written by:
Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa 
Year:
1950

Rashomon belongs to a group of films which can be reviewed in two distinctly different ways. It was released in 1950 and has had a significant impact on many levels. However, should such a film be reviewed in its place in time, or should it be reviewed exactly the same way as modern movies? Even though it might be interesting to relate a film to the time in which it was produced, I’m more interested in how I perceive that movie today (which might also be helpful for others).

The story is based on two facts: a woman is raped and her husband is found dead. Apart from this, however, little is certain. Throughout Rashomon, four different characters tell their story about what truly happened, all of them mutually contradcitive. The narrative starts from the story of a wood-cutter, who found the body. Subsequently, additional versions are added by the rapist, the dead husband (through a medium) and the woman.

To start with, the basis of this movie is quite interesting and withstands the test of time without any problem whatsoever (although that should probably be accredited to the author of the short stories Rashomon are based on). The four stories have their own characteristics, although they all seem to prove the wickedness of man, a theme which is further highlighted by the three men taking shelter from the rain, discussing the case. Kurosawa’s directing is also good (no surprises there), with the possible exception of some scenes, which feel too drawn out (the fighting between the husband and the rapist for instance). It’s a bit tricky to comment on the acting, considering that the language is Japanese and the film is more than half a century old, but I can find nothing to complain about here.

Conclusively, I think Rashomon is quite good, decidedly better than Seven Samurai, but not so good that I will watch it again any time soon. It’s well worth watching and if its age and its influence on subsequent works are taken into consideration, it should be more quite good. I don’t recommend it in general, but if you find anything I’ve written here to sound even slightly interesting, you should give Rashomon a try.

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