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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