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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The truth hurts... a lot
A man is dead, a woman was raped, and that's all that can be definitely said. Somebody has committed murder, but nobody knows whodunnit. Genius filmmaker Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon" is a classic for its skillful direction, suspense and wonderful acting. It's one of those movies you think must be vastly overrated until you see it, and are blown away by it.

At...
Published on 29 Dec 2007 by E. A Solinas

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Worse than the literary works
I have to say that as good as Kurosawa is, and it does not get much better than that, the story and acting seemed slightly amiss for me and I have had a fair exposure to japanese cinema across the years and not just Kurosawa-san. Still worth watching mind.
Published 5 months ago by SusanoWo


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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The truth hurts... a lot, 29 Dec 2007
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
A man is dead, a woman was raped, and that's all that can be definitely said. Somebody has committed murder, but nobody knows whodunnit. Genius filmmaker Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon" is a classic for its skillful direction, suspense and wonderful acting. It's one of those movies you think must be vastly overrated until you see it, and are blown away by it.

At the Rashomon Gate in eleventh-century Japan, a man (Kichijiro Ueda) takes shelter with a priest (Minoru Chiaki) and a woodcutter (Takashi Shimura) during a rainstorm. The woodcutter is depressed and the priest is horrified, over a recent crime: the vicious bandit Taj˘maru (Toshir˘ Mifune) was arrested for murdering a man named Takehiro (Masayuki Mori) and raping his wife Masako (Machiko Ky˘). But when taken before the police, Taj˘maru claims that he has his fun with the woman and killed her husband honorably in a fight.

But Masako begs to differ; she claims to be the victim first of the sadistic bandit, then of her cold-hearted husband. And when a medium calls up the spirit of Takehiro, he claims that Masako was unfaithful, asking the bandit to murder him, then spurned by Taj˘maru. Her actions drove Takehiro to suicide. And the woodcutter himself claims to have seen the altercation -- and his version is wildly different from them all.

During the filming of "Rashomon," director Akira Kurosawa stated that the film is a reflection of life, which doesn't always have clear meanings. The same could be said of truth. Questions are raised by the events of "Rashomon," but given no easy answers -- sometimes no answers at all (my biggest question was how Masako's gown stays so white if she's always weeping on the ground).

Light and shadow whirl and dance in a frankly beautiful woodland setting, serving as a pretty backdrop for some very ugly acts. The fight scenes are masterful -- they look like real fights, as opposed to choreography. Taj˘maru's are more stylized, whereas the woodcutter sees two guys rolling and staggering around with swords, obviously freaked out. Kurosawa was even brave enough to touch on the unique idea of having the deceased testify. The spinechilling seance scene, starring a downright spooky, stark-faced Fumiko Honma, is a haunting classic scene.

Are Kurosawa's insights dark and depressing? In a fascinating, hypnotic way... yes. But while calmly pointing out the ability of human beings to lie even to themselves, he acknowledges that there's good in there too (a scene where the woodcutter adopts an abandoned baby as the priest watches). We lose our illusions and innocence as the priest loses his, forced to look on how despicable people can be, but while being comforted with the knowledge that people aren't all bad, and that unadulterated truth isn't really necessary to have good in you.

Toshir˘ Mifune chews the scenery with gusto as the barbarian bandit, laughing and jerking like a hyena just to see people jump. At first glance, Machiko Ky˘ seems to be overacting, until you see how unhinged her character has become by whatever happened. Masayuki Mori doesn't get to act as much as the others (the poor guy spends most of his time tied to a tree), but is good when the camera zooms in on him. Minoru Chiaki and Takashi Shimura add an extra dimension as the innocent young priest and the tormented woodcutter.

Gloomy, thought-provoking and ultimately quite freaky, "Rashomon" still defies conventional filmmaking and will suck you right in. It's brilliantly crafted and exceptionally directed, and must be seen by all lovers of cinema. And that's the truth!
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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Optimum come through with a quality release, 19 Oct 2008
By 
Mr. G. Sturdy "sakura amazon" (Yarm, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The Optimum dvd release is a definate improvement over the barebones BFI release and even give Criterion a run for their money!!!! This edition includes a 70 minute making of not featured on the Criterion copy!! There's a decent VERY packed 36 page booklet too! Comes housed in a slipcase (though features the same cover as the DVD sleeve). This could easily pass as one of the Eureka! Masters of Cinema DVDs which is praise enough in itself. Optimum have really made an effort here - buy this over the Criterion so hopefully we'll get more region 2 classics of this standard!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What happened?, 31 Dec 2005
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Rashomon [1950] [DVD] (DVD)
A man is dead, a woman was raped, and that's all that can be definitely said. Somebody has committed murder, but nobody knows whodunnit.

Legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon" is a classic for its skillful direction, suspense and wonderful acting. It's one of those movies you think must be vastly overrated until you see it, and are blown away by it.

At the Rashomon Gate in eleventh-century Japan, a man (Kichijiro Ueda) takes shelter with a priest (Minoru Chiaki) and a woodcutter (Takashi Shimura) during a rainstorm. The woodcutter is depressed and the priest is horrified, over a recent crime: the vicious bandit Taj˘maru (Toshir˘ Mifune) was arrested for murdering a man named Takehiro (Masayuki Mori) and raping his wife Masako (Machiko Ky˘). But when taken before the police, Taj˘maru claims that he had his fun with the woman and killed her husband honorably in a fight.

But Masako begs to differ; she claims to be the victim first of the sadistic bandit, then of her cold-hearted husband, whom she says she stabbed. And when a medium calls up the spirit of Takehiro, he claims that Masako was unfaithful, asking the bandit to murder him, then spurned by Taj˘maru. Her actions drove Takehiro to suicide. But the woodcutter himself claims to have seen the altercation -- and his version is wildly different from them all.

During the filming of "Rashomon," director Akira Kurosawa stated that the film is a reflection of life, which doesn't always have clear meanings. The same could be said of truth. Questions are raised by the events of "Rashomon," but given no easy answers -- sometimes no answers at all (my biggest question was how Masako's gown stays so white if she's always weeping on the ground).

Light and shadow whirl and dance in a frankly beautiful woodland setting, serving as a pretty backdrop for some very ugly acts. The fight scenes are masterful -- they look like real fights, as opposed to choreography. Taj˘maru's are more stylized, whereas the woodcutter sees two guys rolling and staggering around with swords, obviously freaked out. Kurosawa was even brave enough to touch on the unique idea of having the deceased testify. The spinechilling seance scene, starring a downright spooky, stark-faced Fumiko Honma, is a haunting classic scene.

Are Kurosawa's insights dark and depressing? In a fascinating, hypnotic way... yes. But while calmly pointing out the ability of human beings to lie even to themselves, he acknowledges that there's good in there too, by including a scene where the woodcutter adopts an abandoned baby. We lose our illusions and innocence as the priest loses his, forced to look on how despicable people can be, but while being comforted with the knowledge that people aren't all bad, and that unadulterated truth isn't really necessary to have good in you.

Toshir˘ Mifune chews the scenery with gusto as the barbarian bandit, laughing and jerking like a hyena just to see people jump. At first glance, Machiko Ky˘ seems to be overacting, until you see how unhinged her character has become by whatever happened. Masayuki Mori doesn't get to act as much as the others (the poor guy spends most of his time tied to a tree), but is good when the camera zooms in on him. Minoru Chiaki and Takashi Shimura add an extra dimension as the innocent young priest and the tormented woodcutter.

Gloomy, thought-provoking and ultimately quite freaky, "Rashomon" still defies conventional filmmaking, brilliantly crafted and exceptionally directed. And that's the truth.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the most influential Japanese film of the 20th century., 9 Feb 2009
Rashomon has changed the way cinema goers think of storytelling. As many will know it it a retelling of the story of a crime told by 3 different participants and we never know which story is the true one. All involved try to present it in the manner that is most flattering to them but the stories are contradicting each other. It challenges notions of truth in this most illusionistic of mediums: cinema and it does so in a straight forward, unpretentious way that makes a film to be enjoyed by all.

Rashomon, is an amazingly well crafted film. Some of the images are going to stay with you for ever. Maybe some will underrate the film because it has been so influential we have grown to take its contribution to cinema as a matter of fact, but i think it is impossible to dismiss how beautiful the film is and how well it is told.

This is a great edition though it is difficult to think of an edition good enough to do Rashomon justice.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic film you have to watch TWICE to fully appreciate, 26 Aug 2003
By 
Lawrance M. Bernabo (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Rashomon [VHS] [1950] (VHS Tape)
In Akira Kurosawa's classic film "Rashomon," a woodcutter, a thief, a wife and a dead husband each relate in turn a "rape" and "murder." Everyone has seen this movie ripped off (or homaged) on television shows from "All in the Family" to "The X-Files," so seeing the original at this late date is certainly a distorted endeavor. However, the important thing to remember is to WATCH THIS FILM TWICE. Not that further proof of the mastery of Kurosawa is needed, but each narrative in this film is told in a different cinematic style. The second time around pay attention to how the composition of the shots, the music in the background, the editing technique are all unique to each version of what happened in the woods. There are those who say this film is about the ambiguity of truth, arguing that what really happened is never depicted in the film. I do not buy this interpretation at all. At the end we do indeed get the "truth," which is why a second viewing of the film is so wor!thwhile, for it allows us to reinterpret each narrative to reach an understanding of why each person distorts their telling of the tale. Their distortions, omissions and lies are not random, but strategic given each individual caught up in this situation. The historical note that this film "introduced" Japanese cinema to the Western World is an interesting footnote. But this is a psychological drama that transcends culture, which is to say that the film is not as inherently "Japanese" as other Kurosawa efforts (and I make this comment cognizant of the stilted American adaptation of the tale which was set, like most adaptations of Kurosawa, in the old West).
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cinematic Classic that must be seen, 17 Sep 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Rashomon [1950] [DVD] (DVD)
Perhaps even more influential than Kurasawa's other classics (Seven Samurai, Yojimbo), Rashomon is based around the investigation into a rape and a murder in feudal Japan. A series of witnesses come forward to tell a series of stories, with each storyteller having a different spin on events. As visually arresting as the rest of Kurawasa's work, it is a more intellectual film than Yojimbo, and is often cited as an indication of postmodernism (with its unstable narrative and unreliable narrators).
You can't possibly say that you have an interest in cinema if you haven't seen this film.
So seminal is this film that it even inspired a Simpsons joke:
Homer: "I don't wanna go to Japan."
Marge: "You liked that movie, Rashomon."
Homer: "That's your story."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Truth", 8 July 2009
Akira Kurosawa's calling card to cinema worldwide is a brillant film in almost everyway, filmed with a handful of actors in no more then 3 locations it shows subjective nature of truth as told through a drama set in 11th century japan involving a rape and murder as told through 5 diffent accounts. This is a film that I really feel everyone should see at least one in there lives as even after almost 60 years it still is a eye-opener to what good cinema is and how it can affect the way we think.
Like all of Kurosawas films the direction, pace and sheer skill is second to none, I could could review and praise all his films however I feel this (ikiru & seven samurai close seconds) is my favorate of his films
Don't watch and you are missing out.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important, enjoyable and thought-provoking film, 19 Jan 2005
This review is from: Rashomon [1950] [DVD] (DVD)
Rashomon is one of those films you keep hearing about but hardly ever get the chance to see on the idiot box or at the cinema. Its exploration of multiple perspectives on the 'same' event is now a fairly standard device (Hilary and Jackie, for example) but seems remarkably fresh.
Three men (a priest, a woodcutter and a commoner) take shelter in the ruined gates of a palace (look on my works, ye mighty and despair and all that) as the rain drives down relentlessly. They are so gloomy they make Beckett's characters look positively chipper. Through them we learn of the trial of a bandit (played by Toshiro Mifune) accused of the rape of a woman and the murder of her husband. But what really happened, and are the details know-able? With little 'hard evidence', we rely on unreliable and all-too-human witnesses.
It's beautifully directed, beautifully shot. The dialogue is at turns chilling and wrenching, with shades of Bergman's The Seventh Seal.
One of the best films I've seen in the last twelve months...
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget the Hype, 6 Mar 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Look, in all honesty forget the hyperbole and arty farty notions about this sort of esoteric cinema. This film is just simply great. Treat yourself to a treasure.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tell the truth, 1 May 2005
This review is from: Rashomon [1950] [DVD] (DVD)
Kurosawa has many times been the inspiration for other directors, and after watching this film it is easy to see why. Rashomon is a very clever idea which questions the whole notion of truth at ground level. We have the same story told through the mask of 4 different characters, and this makes gripping watching. It asks the questions, who is telling the truth? To make things even more confusing, how do we know that anyone is actually telling the truth. Everyone puts their own slant on the story
The film has spawned many others following the same theme. Most famous is probably The Usual Subjects, which does not attempt to hide the fact that Rashomon gave it all its ideas. Rashomon is one of the reasons that directors such as Lucas and Spielberg love Kurosawa's work. It redefines cinema as an art once again
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Rashomon [1950] [DVD]
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