Today, I want to present a major movie, one of the world best films, a diamond from 1950. Rashômon is one of the most important movies of its time, and it stays as a golden nugget for both its form and its contents. Akira Kurosawa is clearly not any movie maker, he is the author of Yojimbo (the bodyguard) which was the source of For a fistful of dollars with Clint Eastwood as well as Last man standing with Bruce Willis (the least interesting of the three). He also created Seven Samurais which will be done again in a western adaptation universally known as The Magnificent Seven.
But Akira Kurosawa is not only a Japanese movie maker and director, he also was at the origin of a true revolution of 20th Century Japanese cinema. He introduced techniques and ideas coming from the Western world (like Hokusai had integrated the impressionnists’ painting in his works), and he brought to light an exceptional cinema where everything is worth keeping. Rashômon is of that quality. One single story, told from different points of view, grows to the size of four different mixed stories. Each camera angle brings distinct tint and perception. The picture-goer will be drawn into the camera moves and will perceive how much there is no perfect point of view, how much a motion-picture (and its director) tells a unique story merely by placing a camera here instead of there.
But it is also the dramas of three people stuck in their environment, their culture, their prejudices and those of their contemporaries. You will be deeply moved, but there is not even a hint of cheap sentimentality.
And we will remember that Rashômon was the reason for the creation of the Best foreign film category of the Academy Awards. A motion-picture that breaks so many cinema rules, and still stays attractive to the largest public, that it appeared necessary to Hollywood to open a new category just for it.
Toshirô Mifune plays a bandit accused of the heinous murder of a man. But didn’t he rape his wife too? Four witnesses (including the bandit and his victim) will tell the single sequence of events. Each one will slightly transform it according to his memories and the personnal additions. Where is the truth? Are memories real?
After that, you will be able to come back to Pulp Fiction (a movie I simply loved) and perceive how difficult it is to reproduce the strength of Rashômon.