Rashomon

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Rashomon (1950)

In 12th century Japan, a samurai and his wife are attacked by the notorious bandit Tajomaru, and the samurai ends up dead. Tajomaru is captured shortly afterward and is put on trial, but his story and the wife's are so completely different that a psychic is brought in to allow the murdered man to give his own testimony. He tells yet another completely different story. Finally,a woodcutter who found the body reveals that he saw the whole thing, and his version is again completely different from the others. Who is telling the truth?

This film is often sited as one of the top films ever from Japan.

Toshirô Mifune ... Tajômaru
Machiko Kyô ... Masako Kanazawa
Masayuki Mori ... Takehiro Kanazawa
Takashi Shimura ... Woodcutter
Minoru Chiaki ... PriestKichijiro Ueda ... Commoner
Fumiko Honma ... Medium
Daisuke Katô ... Policeman

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Nominated for Oscar.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042876/

Codecs: OpenDivX 4 / MP3

This fabulous work was years and years ahead of its time when it was made in 1950, being a work of art that engages the eyes and the ears, but most essentially, the brain. The film is bothaesthetically beautiful, using amazing camera techniques, extensive periods of silence and a very limited cast to deliver the action, and the story is typically Japanese...ostensibly amazingly simple, but complex to the point of sending you cross-eyed!

The basic tale is this: a woman and her husband, a Samurai, are travelling through a forest when they meet a bandit. The bandit has sex with thewoman and the Samurai ends up dead. That's it. This tale is related to us through the woodcutter and a monk who saw the protagonists give their evidence to the police (the dead Samurai through a medium), but unfortunately the three tales conflict with one another. Each confessor says that they killed the Samurai, and then we hear from the woodcutter who in fact witnessed the event, who gives us aversion of events that borrows from each individual account, and is still less credible!

The conclusion presented by Kurosawa seems to be firstly that individuals see things from different perspectives, but secondly, and most importantly, that there is no objective truth. There is no answer as to what took place in the forest, and Kurosawa offers us no way of knowing what went on. Each story isas credible as the other, and so no conclusion about guilt can be reached. We even have to think at the end that as the whole thing is reported to us by the woodcutter and priest, was there any truth in anything we heard at all?

This film leads to an especially tricky conclusion for a movie-goer! Your eyes are supposed to show you objective truth, but they don't. The camera is supposed not tolie, but it does. I feel that the simple message is that subjectivity lies at the heart of life, and this subjectivity needs to be recognised before any attempt is made to understand events.

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Akira Kurosawa was one of those directors, the first from the Eastern hemisphere, todevelop the form and structure of cinema in ways it hadn't been. The story he used for Rashomon is now, like Seven Samurai, Hidden Fortress, and Yojimbo, a near archetype that at this point in the history of film has become formula and common knowledge for writers and directors. In that sense, Rashomon is as important and entertaining as a film as Citizen Kane, Battleship Potemkin, Rear Window, or OpenCity. Tee basic premise- Four different people give four different accounts on the rape and murder of a couple in the woods. A key ingredient to the success of Rashomon, is that the recollections given to the courts by the woman, the bandit, the as well as the four in discussion, is that their emotions reveal their humanity, even if their details reveal nothing, or everything. It's difficult to...
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