Zach Davis

Directed By: Akira Kurosawa

Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki, Kichijirô Ueda, and Noriko Honma

Rashomon achieves the ultimate standard for cinema and art in general.  The movie is certainly entertaining.  At the same time, however, it's one truly thought-provoking film.  Director Akira Kurosawa's cinematic work marks a major step in bridging the silent film era and the modern age of filmmaking (I.e. talkies).  His minimalist approach toward the film's sound gives it a more realistic feeling and honors a bygone era in cinema. 

Kurosawa really does a great job in visually creating the world of Rashomon through special effects.  For example, he uses mirrors to amplify sunlight and allow for naturally-lit shots on set.  He also puts black ink in the water to create rain during the scenes at Rashomon gate.  Another interesting technique he utilizes is the bending of the fourth wall, which places the audience in the vantage point of the judge during the courthouse scenes.  All in all, the advanced effects (for the time) for Kurosawa's Rashomon are astounding and really serve to enhance our cinematic experience.  This is especially impressive given the movie's low production budget.

A commoner (Kichijirô Ueda) comes across a priest (Minoru Chiaki) and a woodcutter (Takashi Shimura) who just served as witnesses in a murder trial.  The priest and the woodcutter are so overwhelmed by the events of the trial that the commoner becomes curious.  He decides to weigh in with his thoughts, and the two proceed to tell the commoner the story behind this fateful trial. 

A famous bandit named Tajômaru (Toshiro Mifune) has come across Takehiro Kanazawa (Masayuki Mori) and his wife Masako (Machiko Kyo) while traveling along a road in the woods.  Tajômaru is immediately struck by the beauty of Masako and decides that he is going to steal her.  To lead Takehiro off the road, Tajômaru hatches a plan to pretend to sell swords that he claims to have stolen from Takehiro.  Once he lures Masako’s husband off the road, Tajômaru attacks Takehiro and ties him up.  Soon afterward, Takehiro is killed, and nobody knows who did the deed.  In the murder trial the priest and woodcutter attended, multiple vantage points and potential culprits are examined.  Takehiro himself even bears witness in court by means of a medium (Noriko Honma) as this situation becomes more and more tangled.

The acting in Rashomon is decent for the most part.  However, there are a couple of cast members who stand out.  Toshiro Mifune’s laugh as Tajômaru does leave a lasting impression in my mind.  Machiko Kyo also puts her acting prowess on display when she mourns her husband and goes absolutely hysterical in the woods.

Go see this awesome film, you don’t need any drinks for this one.