Review: Rashomon

Rashomon screenshot

Original title: Rashômon
Year: 1950 | Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Given the number of films, TV shows and other media that have copied its basic structure over the years, would it be safe to claim that Rashomon is one of the most influential films of the mid-20th century (if not ever)? I think so.

Amazingly, though, with so many derivative works floating around out there, some of which are quite good in their own right (e.g. The Last Duel [2021]), the original somehow manages to remain perhaps the greatest example of the form, thanks to legendary director Akira Kurosawa’s singular vision and insistence on not revealing which version of the events told in his film, if any, is the “truth.” There’s a deep philosophy present throughout Rashomon (both explicit and implied) that doesn’t always carry to the media that it has influenced, which is certainly part of the reason that it is still, to this day, considered one of the greatest films of all time.

And that’s not to mention the incredible performances from the entire cast that only show their true impact after all versions of the story have been told, and the remarkable camerawork and lighting that not only look beautiful, but also aid in the telling of the story in all of its versions.

It’s no secret that Kurosawa was one of the greatest creative minds in the history of cinema, but all of the articles and books and interviews and documentaries in the world can’t prepare you for the actual experience of watching a film like Rashomon, with all its innovation and influence and philosophy. It never ceases to amaze me how much a film that was made when my grandmother was 10 years old can have a profound effect on me more than 70 years later, and will probably have the same effect on audiences in another 70 years from now.

Language: Japanese
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
Runtime: 1 hr. 28 min.
Rating: Not Rated

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyō, Takashi Shimura, Masayuki Mori, Minoru Chiaki

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