Rashomon (1950)

Discussion in 'Mayberry Lounge' started by Guestx, Aug 15, 2016.

  1. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    @MusterX GTFIH!

    At Muster's insistence--and I do mean insistence--I watched Rashomon, Akira Kurosawa's 1950 murder mystery of sorts. It was, in fact, my first Kurosawa film.

    First off, let me just go ahead and get this out of the way: I liked this film. About 10 minutes in I wasn't sure I was going to get into it, but once the story's main thrust really kicks in I was pretty engaged. It's not what I thought it would be--just based on what I know about Kurosawa I was expecting some grand samurai epic--but in this case I was actually pleased that my expectations were subverted. I am always interested in filmmakers who do a lot with a little, and that's what Kurosawa does here. With nothing more than a cast of five characters, a few costumes, a couple of swords, and a few nondescript locations (sans one dilapidated Buddhist monstery), he tells a small but engaging story in a way that I don't think I've ever seen before.

    So overall I thought it was pretty rad.

    Now, just a few thoughts in no particular order:

    * Despite being made in 1950, the film had a pretty modern feel to me. The performances, the themes and the camerawork all struck me as a bit ahead of their time in some ways.

    * How are we to interpret the Woodcutter's story? Are we to interpret his story as the truth--or at least the most truthful--since he went last? I'm not sure. After all, it's made clear that he's harboring secrets of his own regarding this tale. I walked away feeling like the truth was unknowable. It lies somewhere in between all these stories and untangling it is not really the point of the movie. Do I like that? I'm not sure. There's a part of me that would have liked some kind of definitive wrap up, but on the other hand the unresolved ambiguity is compelling.

    * It was interesting to see Toshiro Mifune in a role like this. Instead of some regal samurai, he was wild, literally crazy and like an animal. It's a stark contrast to the role I best know him for, which was his role as Lord Toranaga in the 1980 mini-series Shogun. Anyone remember Shogun? Epic show that no one ever talks about anymore:


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    * I thought the fight choreography came off as pretty realistic. Normally we get these very stylized sword battles, but in this film it's probably a lot more like it actually was: Two dudes swinging wildly at each other and scared as shit to get cut. Just like today, no doubt few men--samurai or not--back in that time actually had the constitution for battles to the death. The fear would be immense. If anything, this leads me to believe that the Woodcutter's story was the closest to the truth, because his version of the sword fight seemed the most realistic.

    * Speaking of swords, I thought Mifune's sword was interesting, because it's a Chinese sword rather than a Japanese sword. I wonder why Kurosawa decided to outfit him with a foreign sword instead of a traditional samurai sword. Today, those swords are often referred to as "tai chi swords":


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    * I thought the performances all around were well done, but I have to call special attention to Machiko Kyo's. Not only was she visually striking, but I was impressed by her range: She could go from terrified damsel in distress to sad widow to crazy fucking psycho bitch, and without too much effort it seemed. Apparently she is still alive BTW. According to Wikipedia, she's 92.

    * The film raises an interesting and somber question: If your wife was raped, how would you react to it? Would you be perfectly sympathetic and supportive? Or would there be something deep down inside of you that would cause you to pull away from her in disgust? I have to say that if I was put in that situation, God forbid, I'm really not sure how I would react. Knowing that my wife had been taken by another man would be hard to deal with.

    Lastly, for anyone who is interested, I'd like to point out that there's an episode of the CriterionCast that covers the movie. I've listened to half of it. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it's interesting to hear the hosts' perspective on the film. If any wants to check it out, here's a link:

    http://criterioncast.com/podcast/criterioncast-episodes/episode-157-rashomon

    All right, well I have more thoughts but I'm just going to let the rest of them come out as conversation naturally unfolds.

    Who here has seen Rashomon? And what did you think of it?


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  2. Sir Galahad

    Sir Galahad Plutonium Belt Platinum Member

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    My favorite Kurosawa film Ikiru.

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  3. europe1

    europe1 It´s a nice peninsula to Asia

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    This should be a special episode of the Sherdog Movie Club.
     
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  4. Guestx

    Guestx Guest


    I was kind of thinking the same thing actually.
     
  5. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    BTW, if anybody is thinking about spoiling any other Kurosawa film in this thread, don't do it. I still haven't seen that shit.
     
  6. JSN

    JSN Bitch Lasagna

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    Yeah it's awesome. Everyone knows that tho.
     
  7. shaffmeister

    shaffmeister GRACIE BARRA

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    I watched scream 2 last weekend.
     
  8. milliniar

    milliniar Who needs a belt?

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    I would have to go back and rewatch a few to rank the Kurosawa films...but rashomon is one of the great ones.

    Maybe go with his most known film Seven Samurai next.
     
  9. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    I always intended to do Seven Samurai first but Muster kept fucking with me so I decided to oblige him. SS should be next for sure.
     
  10. europe1

    europe1 It´s a nice peninsula to Asia

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    Isn't the woodcutters story placed into question too? I can't remember the details but I thought the movie did that.

    However, I would like to say that Rashamon isn't so much a film about finding out "who is right" as it is asking, "can people be moral"?. Each character remembers the event subjectively, but critically, they all have shaped the events that transpired after their own weaknesses. The way they remember it relates to who they are, and what they are trying to compensate for within themselves.

    The bandits story highlights his machioism. The women's her vulnerable state, etc. They've taken an event, and because of their own failings, spun it so to reflect themselves in some way. No one can remember it correctly because they have all filtered the event through their own subconsciously flaws, fears and vulnerabilities.

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    This is reflected in what that Asshole in the ruined building says. In the ending, the Asshole says that the story is proof that the world is evil. Truth and objectivity is impossible, and therefore goodness is impossible too. He laughs and wallows in the story, because it "confirms" his worldview that people are inherently frail, corrupted beings that can never seperate truth from their own subjective lies, lies that have been formed to rationalize themselves in some way. The woodcutter adopting the child in the ending is not just to sate his own guilty conscious, it's an attempt to show that humanity maybe have the ability of goodness after all.

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    Oh he's had his share of wildman roles.

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    Probably to highlight that he was a scummy highwayman. Samurai swords were meant to represent honor, prestige and a lofty social status. A "chinese-styled" sword was meant to represent that he was an opportunist. Plus, people in Feudal Japan would be pretty suspicious of a vagabond walking around with a highly-prized sword reserved for the warrior class.

    Rashamon is just B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L. The black and white, light and shadows cinemotography is gorgeous and highly evocative. And Kurusawa's masterful composition and slovenly use of the elements strenghtens this.

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    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016
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  11. heavyarms21

    heavyarms21 Ryozanpaku Belt

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    I like The Hidden Fortress and Seven Samurai.

    Also Yojimbo , fucking Classic as well
     
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  12. JSN

    JSN Bitch Lasagna

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    Red Beard is an amazing Kurosawa film too.
     
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  13. europe1

    europe1 It´s a nice peninsula to Asia

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    Kurisawa did have a didactic streak to him, it must be said.
     
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  14. UltimateMoving

    UltimateMoving Double Yellow Card Double Yellow Card

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    The clutch was strong with this one
     
  15. europe1

    europe1 It´s a nice peninsula to Asia

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    There is an American remake of Rashomon called The Outrage. It's sort of disappointing because it follows the original point-by-point to the extreme, even downright copying the composition and framing at times. But the acting is top-notch. And the use of atmosphere is quite brilliant to. While Kurosawa used the berrating intensity of heavy rainfall as his mood-setter in Rashomon, Outrage replaces it with the vastness and desolation of the American West, and it works beautifully.
     
  16. JSN

    JSN Bitch Lasagna

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    Oh yeah there's a shitty western remake of The Sven Samurai called the Magnificent Seven or something like that. Hollywood needs to leave AK alone.
     
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  17. europe1

    europe1 It´s a nice peninsula to Asia

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    Magnificent Seven is actually very good, in my opinion, great even. It just has the unfortunate downside of being a remake of one of the absolute best movies of all time. Virtually every film pales in comparison to Seven Samurai.
     
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  18. JSN

    JSN Bitch Lasagna

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    but especially that one tho. gay movie made by gay romos.
     
  19. SSgt Dickweed

    SSgt Dickweed Black Belt

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    Been imitated and parodied all the time even in kids' shows. Kenan and Kel had an episode that paid homage/parodied that film.
     
  20. kuromusha

    kuromusha LONZO LOOMS 2019

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    I always thought Yojimbo and Sanjuro were way better than the Eastwood remakes. Toshiro Mifune is one of the most underrated actors of all time.
     
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