A woodcutter and a Priest sit stunned in what appears a dilapidated though majestic gate. Outside the wind and rain are lashing. They are joined by a character about whom we know nothing till the end. And a story is told. Of a man found dead in the forest and the four versions by four different people (a bandit, the dead man’s wife, the dead man, and the woodcutter) of how this man met his death.
Classic! Very allegorical. And very entertaining. Japanese director Akira Kurosawa‘s 1950 masterpiece Rashomon will keep your attention and leave you thinking. The use of shadows and light, the almost monotone background score, and some of the best face closeups I have seen add to the film’s credentials. There are parts which are rather crude, but they are so few and so far apart that it is easy to forgive.
Watch out for the scene where the bandit brings the wife into the wood clearing and she sees her husband in a certain state. The camera rolls slow and steady, no jerky angles or movement, no loud music, just a sense of tension. And also watch out for the look on the face of the husband when his wife cuts his ropes. I do not remember any other movie where a character displays an expression that is so indescribable.
Rashomon deals with human vices and our continuous fight to defeat, accept, or run from them. The four stories are unique and no attempt is made to solve the puzzle. Because the puzzle is not central to the plot. The stories are merely mediums to pose the greater questions about human nature. And even here, Rashomon does not give complete answers.
Storytelling has been important to human history. Our sense of good and evil, of love and hate, and everything else has been passed down the ages using stories. Rashomon is a respectable addition to the art of storytelling through moving images and sound. Recommended for viewing.