There has never been a film like "Rashomon" ever before, and there will never be a film like "Rashomon" ever now. "Rashomon" is in my terms, "the perfect film". I'm aware that some people will of course say "Godfather" is better than "Rashomon" because well, "Godfather" is always ranked in the top #10 greatest film lists from critics and the internet all the time. I am also aware that there is no perfect film. However, when you can achieve a level of power by visual storytelling like "Rashomon" or "Godfather", you might as well call it "the perfect film", even if it's close to perfection because we can never achieve that "perfection" that our human minds so need desperately. What qualifies "Rashomon" as a perfect movie is that all technical aspects and detail has been examined and executed well enough to lure us into the world of the film itself. "Rashomon's" specialty in this case, is the strong voices of its cast, the cinematography that's still stunning, and the overall influence that still makes the movie cunning. "Rashomon" also started the future careers of Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori, and several other Kurosawa mains outside of Japan with their well received films.
A story can never be made without having a character that is, human or unhuman. Without a character, it is simply a moving gallery of moving pictures. The choice of actors and the wonderful actresss as the main characters was the jackpot of Japanese cinema. Getting three powerful Japanese actors/actress into one movie where each of their voices can be heard clearly with levels of emotions planted on each line. Toshiro Mifune plays as the crazy bandit who is the one that commit the crime of the murder a swordsman and the rape of an innocent lady. His role probably influenced him few years later when he plays another character with the same characteristics in Seven Samurai. Interesting enough, he created his own character for Seven Samurai. The strong and fast moving athleticism of the bandit certainly was an important ability that the actor will need for the role and Mifune himself executed this to his max. When watching the battles throughout the film, Mifune constantly squirms and run while running away or towards his opponent which is Masayuki Mori, who plays as the swordsman. Both have excellent stamina when battling each other off in their own battle scenes that are constantly wrestling each other in the leaves and the dirt while trying to grab a quick weapon to kill each other with. Fights more intense than many modern films today that is. Machiko Kyo is the most powerful when it comes to emotions. Here twisted cries of help and mercy certainly gave the audience themselves several feelings from sympathy to betrayal. A wide variety of feelings flow out of Machiko's performance. Every single scream that escapes her lips is an instant stab to my heart like it was real. Other actors including Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki, and Kichijiro Ueda also had their own special places in this story as well. These three were destined to be at the Rashomon gate on a violent, rainy storm. Each one lashing their anger out into another, slowly going insane like the millions of droplets that explode in an army of hundreds. And that's basically the entire cast of the movie. (Except for the Medium which is only for a brief chapter of the story). However, when it comes to lying, these actors/actress are able to hide their lies so well and so clean, that it's impossible to tell whether the statement was true or not. For the acting is definitely on it's own level and cannot be supported greatly without the stunning cinematography of Kazuo Miyagawa.
Kazuo Miyagawa wasn't a big name when it came to film. Yet, he also did the cinematography work for another of Kurosawa's essential masterpiece, Yojimbo (1961). Film itself is not always created for fun. Great directors who want to achieve something big in the film industry knows that every detail in a film counts, and this also counts on cinematography. But if it's cinematography, how can you make each shot important as the other you ask? Think about that 1.33:1 aspect ratio of "Rashomon" as a room. When you encounter close-ups like Screenshot #5 of the Blu-Ray review for this movie for example, you really don't have that much space to breathe and it gives off rather an intense atmosphere when combined with the actress' exaggerated look which Kurosawa is well known for using. There is also a type of shot that Kurosawa loves using which he will use in his most biggest work of them all, "Seven Samurai" which uses three actors/actresses into one shot in equal height. Now there's not a example screenshot for this in the Blu-Ray review but in the Japanese Blu-Ray boxset with other Kurosawa classics like "Ran", "The Quiet Duel", and "Madadayo", take a look at the second screenshot as it's close to what I'm saying, except that it's like a medium shot with three people in it. Normally, it would be the person in the middle will be close up in front and the other 2 on the side will be in the back. In my view, it shows how all three characters are the same level, no one is far more superior than the other, they're all the same. And with the fact that most of the time, the characters are looking in their own different directions give it more dramatic power that you can see in a play. Each one with their different thoughts but they know that they're still the same. Kazuo Miyagawa played a huge role in making the film as how it is and without these spectacular shots, the audience wouldn't be interested in going further into the story. However, the story is the biggest hook of them all, providing an influential idea/effect that changed film history and printed the words KUROSAWA into any film historian's textbook of film.
"Rashomon" is most commonly well known for it's bizarre story of a murder case but with a big twist into it. The story first based off on the short story by Ryunosuke Akutagawa called, "In A Grove". It is actually Ryunosuke Akutagawa that deserves the praise and credit for making this movie come true and starting off careers for many people and influence many ideas and other cultures today. Sadly, he died at the age of 35 from suicide on an overdoes of barbital. Even to this day, he is considered the, "Father of the Japanese short story". A murder case that's been fogged up by 4 different perspectives from the witnesses themselves. Three of them are lies and only one is truth is what we really think of. Kurosawa destroyed that idea in every way possible. The story itself has been shattered so the that only little bits of truth comes out of all four of these stories. Yet, it's still a mess to even decipher and unlock the truth of it. And through this puzzle do we learn more about human nature through each one of our stories as one character is protecting themselves in their own stories while making others look foolish. A disturbing truth of human nature is that people will eventually rat you out and betray you out of greed. With the painful truth of human nature, we, the audience, are never able to find the real truth ever again. Forever alone on the bottom of the ocean of truths and lies. It is that once we have been treated with these scary ideas of human behavior are we given a happy ending. An ending so satisfying, it gave us the meaning to live and to respect our precious lives to the fullest. To control and create your own destiny and relive life in a whole new perspective. Well, maybe not that powerful. Now if you're wondering what it does with the film industry, there's a lot to say about that. The movie itself spreads a new idea that was named after the movie called the Rashomon effect. Rashomon effect is where an event is told in different perspectives and views of the people or witnesses. This effect would be later become the main idea or tool of every other mystery/murder movies in American movies.
Powerful acting, clever cinematography, and the creative influences are only a few examples of what makes this a "perfect" film. "Rashomon" is a film that manages to jog our emotions while sending us many horrifying truths on human feelings/behaviors. And right when you can't take it anymore, the movie cheers you up with an ending that will brighten your day a lot more and finally gives you that air to breath after all that pressure and the cramped areas of suspense. A film so wonderful, that any movie fan can talk about this for hours and not get tired of it. That is if they like watching art films. Watching it the first time might be slow for some people. But after multiple viewings, you will find yourself more interested than ever. A film that started off an entire generation and a successful start of one of the world's greatest decade in film.
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