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Rashomon

Japan 1950
produced by
Minoru Jingo, Masaichi Nagata (executive) for Daiei
directed by Akira Kurosawa
starring Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki, Kichijiro Ueda, Noriko Honma, Daisuke Kato
screenplay by Akiro Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, based on the stories Rashomon and In a Grove by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, music by Fumio Hayasaka

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Flix.com

With the rain pouring, a vagabond (Kichijiro Ueda) seeks refuge at an abandoned roadhouse, where he meets a priest (Minoru Chiaki) and a woodcutter (Takashi Shimura), both of whom have just witnessed a trial concerning rape and murder, and both of whom are in a puzzled state because of the three vastly differing statements made at the trial, which are special inasmuch as each of the three parties questioned takes the murder-rap him-/herself:

  • The rapist's tale: Thief Tajomaru (Toshiro Mifune) sees a samurai (Masayuki Mori) and his beautiful wife (Machiko Kyo) pass by, immediately knows he has to shag the wife, lures her husband into a trap, ties him up and then rapes her before his very eyes. After that, the wife begs the thief to free her husband and have a duel to the death with him, just so her honour is restored. Tajomaru valiantly fights, defeats and kills the samurai, but once that deed is gone, the wife is gone.
  • The wife's tale: After Tajomaru has raped her and has taken off, she untied her husband and begged him to kill her, but he just stared at her, in such a manner that she eventually killed him in some state of trance. Later, she tried to kill herself too, albeit unsuccessfully.
  • The samurai's tale: Since the thief and the wife's stories do contradict each other, a medium (Noriko Honma) is called in to channel the dead man's spirit. And the samurai tells the story like this: After the rape, the wife asked the thief to kill her husband, a request spoken in such cold blood that it leaves the thief nothing less than disgusted. So instead of killing the samurai, the thief offers to kill his wife instead, should he demand it - but the wife manages to make an escape, and the thief fails to capture her. So he returns to the samurai and cuts him free, as that is the least he can do. Once freed, the samurai throws himself into his own knife.

None of these stories satisfies the vagabond, who is much smarter than he appears to be, and eventually he figures that the woodcutter is the one who knows the truthand manages to get the actual story out of him, a story that leaves nobody innocent:

  • The woodcutter's tale: After having raped the wife, the thief breaks down crying over the unjustice he has done, begs for the woman's forgiveness and even proposes to her - but the experience has understanbably put her over the edge, and she demands him to kill her husband, something the thief won't do - so she mocks both men enough that they agree to duel each other, a duel though that's marked by cowardice and clumsiness rather than being the valiant and courageous display of bravery it has been in the theif's version of the story. Eventually, the thief manages to slay the samurai if only just, but the wife, who has also used the whole thing to get rid of her husband, escapes.

This version of the story shatters the priest's belief in humanity. Then the three men hear a baby crying nearby, and ultimately find an abandoned toddler in the next room. The vagabond steals the richly ornamented kimono next to the kid, upon which the woodcutter accuses him of being a thief - a compliment the thief returns, because he has long figured the woodcutter has stolen a valuable dagger from the scene of the murder and thus not spoken up at the trial to tell the true story. Then he takes off. The woodcutter though takes the child into his arms and promises to raise it as one of his, which restores the priest's belief in humanity ...

 


Flix.com

In its very spartanic yet atmospheric treatment of big themes like truth and lies and value and loss of humanity, coupled with the then novel approach to storytelling (telling the plot from different points of view over and over again), Akira Kurosawa created a masterpiece and very probably his most enduring and popular film. And even watching it 60 years later, when Rashomon has been quoted countless times, the film has lost nothing of its freshness and originality, and remains the piece of milestone cinema it has always been considered to be.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner

 

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