What can a 1950s black and white Japanese film teach us about ourselves? Rashomon is a revolutionary movie not only in the History of Japanese cinema but of the world modern cinema. Cinephiles and critics of cinema and academician still, until now, write and discuss this movie that changed the whole construction of the modern story-telling process. To help you appreciate Rashomon, here are seven reasons why it’s worth your time watching it!
Rashomon is directed by the legendary director Akira Kurosawa and has since been an influence in modern cinema, both in and out of Japan. In Rashomon, there has been a murder and a rape, and thus goes the search for the truth within various accounts from the people involved. The movie is a compelling mystery that confounds you while you juggle with the different perspectives and points of view of the main characters.
From the beginning of the opening conversation, you are immediately drawn into the story, and your interest is maintained till the end. And that is the basic of a good mystery with proper storytelling! Trust the movie, and let it lead you in the storytelling.
The location of Rashomon is ominous. It is dilapidated, torn down for scraps by countless others, and beaten mercilessly by a seemingly unnatural weather. The passerby even shares of a myth he had heard, “that the demon living here in Rashomon fled in fear of the ferocity of man”. What a horrifying place to start doubting humanity.
Even when it is black and white, the movie’s images are perfectly framed and strongly impressionistic. There are two focuses: the environment and the characters. When it’s raining, it’s not just heavy, you can feel it pouring on you. Scenes of tracking a character through the woods showing constant movement and play with lighting. Each key framings of the characters are memorable if not specifically framed to convey the situation. When was the last time a movie trusts the audience to be smart enough to understand it?
Some critics claim his acting is over the top in this one, but he carries out the different depictions of the same character well. If anything, you’d be watching this bandit as you love and hate him, including that maniac laughter that will certainly leave an impression on you. The director loved to use him in his movies for his wild, animalistic charisma, an attribute rare to find in contemporary actors.
Yes, they can.
Don’t ask why. This is what you will discover while watching the movie. However, it seems that someone was speaking or some mystic power was passing through the body of the samurai wife.
At the heart of Rashomon lies a critique on the human race: do you believe in the self-serving attributes of humanity? Or do you believe in the good in man, no matter the circumstances? Can you assign a punishment for a crime you are not sure who committed? Challenge yourself as you test your beliefs with this movie, including the commentaries made by the passerby and the priest at the Rashomon gate.
Good stories have good climaxes. Rare are those so good that have our minds blown. Rashomon blows our minds so hard that it invented its own term “Rashomon effect”. Seriously, what does that smile at the end mean?! That is the lingering discomfort that will stay long after you’ve watched the movie, a sign that you have watched one of the most significant movies in history.