Rashomon (1950)


Rashomon (1950)

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori

A case of rape and murder is muddied by conflicting accounts of what really happened.

Apparently this movie is seen as one of the weaker entries in Kurosawa's filmography on the other side of the pond, but it's wildly popular over here. Most people here in the States at least probably know Kurosawa best for his jidaigeki, but this was actually the first jidaigeki he made and the studio didn't actually have much faith in it at the time. I believe history has sufficiently vindicated it. The core concept is intriguing enough and it's made even better by the performances. Toshiro Mifune leaves a strong impression as the feral, half-crazed bandit Tajomaru and Machiko Kyo runs the gamut as victim, who's practically a different character in each iteration of the story. I also want to make note of Noriko Honma, who's really freaky as the miko channeling the murder victim. You usually expect chambara stylized fight choreography in jidaigeki, but here it's really sloppy and it's actually a refreshing change of pace. The commentary on human nature should give you something to think about. It really is a fine film and I recommend adding it to your collection.

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