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Purchase Rashômon (1950) Movie Online and Download - Akira Kurosawa 🎥
Crime, Drama, Mystery
IMDB rating:
Akira Kurosawa
Toshirô Mifune as Tajômaru
Machiko Kyô as Masako Kanazawa
Masayuki Mori as Takehiro Kanazawa
Takashi Shimura as Woodcutter
Minoru Chiaki as Priest
Kichijiro Ueda as Commoner
Fumiko Honma as Medium
Daisuke Katô as Policeman
Storyline: A priest, a woodcutter and another man are taking refuge from a rainstorm in the shell of a former gatehouse called Rashômon. The priest and the woodcutter are recounting the story of a murdered samurai whose body the woodcutter discovered three days earlier in a forest grove. Both were summoned to testify at the murder trial, the priest who ran into the samurai and his wife traveling through the forest just before the murder occurred. Three other people who testified at the trial are supposedly the only direct witnesses: a notorious bandit named Tajômaru, who allegedly murdered the samurai and raped his wife; the white veil cloaked wife of the samurai; and the samurai himself who testifies through the use of a medium. The three tell a similarly structured story - that Tajômaru kidnapped and bound the samurai so that he could rape the wife - but which ultimately contradict each other...
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about truth
a murder. a novel. a film. three characters. and web of lie.result - fragile, delicate, subtle, profound masterpiece. about an ordinary story of hate, love, appearances and beauty. about basic things in the nuances of rain and stories of few men. about fruit of death and force of life. not a moral lesson. but only a trip in the heart of feelings.the domination of gray. the slices of tale. the innocence of bonze. the extraordinary science of detail of Kurosawa. the splendid role of Mifune. all - parts of a beautiful meeting with special images and science of exploration of small facts. and the delicate wind of final part is really touching. because truth is more than convention. it is form of faith. and light behind a long rain front of an old temple.
Most of the time we can't even be honest with ourselves.
To have a film that holds the coveted title of being the reason that the "Best Foreign Film" category was created for the Oscars is one thing, but to be able to back up that myth with a powerful film that speaks both about humanity and the strength of truth is a whole new angle. Often we witness powerful foreign films that slip through the lines of cinema, regarded by so many as valuable assets to the film community, but never see the gold of Oscar. In the same sense, sometimes the most popular of those foreign films eventually become Oscar contenders, not because they are worthy enough, but because studios had the funds to allow bigger distribution to audiences, thus allowing popularity to do the rest. Rashômon is one of those few films that succeed in giving us both a quality film and the accolades to represent it. Rashômon is a rare breed of film. The Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa took many bold steps with this film (pointing his camera at the sun, filming deep within the jungle, and the mockery of truth), that it is unlikely that you could go to a modern day Hollywood film without seeing one of these techniques being "borrowed". His bold storytelling, creative camera work, and powerful characters give us a unique story that should be included in everyone's film library.

While the characters were strong, the direction was flawless, and the story was compelling, there is a theme that needs to be discussed while talking about Rashômon. This is the story of murder, betrayal, and rape and in any typical "courthouse" film you would have some spineless witness finally break down and confess the truth. At the end of these films the truth is discovered, but not in Rashômon. Kurosawa gives us the "black sheep" of themes by never really giving us what we really wanted from the beginning of this story. As I began this film, I thought I was going to get a clear-cut story with honesty and troubled souls, but instead I was handed no prize at the end. What I sought after the most is not handed to me in a Happy Meal container at the end, but instead trapped still within the film. Kurosawa gives us the meaning behind the story, that there possibly is no way of knowing the true "truth". Four different souls, seeing the same event all culminating to four different results means that the "truth" may never be known. Kurosawa has taken the story and provided us with the main character being truth, and like Kaiser Soze, the greatest trick it ever pulled was convincing us that "it didn't exist". Deep within Rashômon the truth is hidden, and it may never emerge, but that is what Kurosawa intended. A viewer could walk away from this film, after several viewings, and discover different truths about the characters and story. This is a constantly evolving film that will continually get better with time.

Outside of these beautiful themes, Rashômon is a flawless film. From the execution of the actors to the simplicity of the direction, there is plenty in this film to keep your mind busy and your jaw nearly dragging on the floor. To begin, the performance by Toshiro Mifune ranks among the best in film history. In each of the stories he is portrayed differently (even in his own) and with precise execution he delivers every time. He is insane, passionate, loyal, and villainous all at the same time. While some may see his acting as eccentric or over-the-top, I found each of his portrayals as accurate and astute. When Mifune is on the screen his presence commands your eyes and you cannot help but become involved. Second to his performance is that of the troubled wife. While her characters is the most confusing/suspicious of them all, Masayuki Mori keeps us intertwined with the story by controlling her character with the greatest of ease. When it is time for her to be unleashed, the true drama of the story is thrown in your face with brilliance and expertise.

Overall, I thought that this was a near perfect film. Kurosawa is intense, original, and adeptly secure about his stories. I have seen the same passion in Ran, and it cannot be denied. My only concern with this film is that if you are going to watch this movie, make sure that you can devote your entire mind to it. I found myself watching it three times because I could not stay focused (outside factors) enough to see those darkly hidden themes. I especially enjoyed the unearthed darkness of humanity, which is hinted on at the end. The fact that after hearing these stories of murder and rape, it doesn't stop one from continuing along a similar path. It is a powerful tale that should be enjoyed by all!

Grade: **** out of *****
"The truth is out there."
Rashômon is about a court proceeding, recalled in flashback, relating to a mysterious crime. A bandit, Tajômaru (Toshirô Mifune) is on trial for murdering a samurai (Mayasuki Mori) and raping his wife (Machiko Kyô) in the remote forest. Each of these three figures addresses the court, the dead man via a medium – an amazingly, electrifying strange conceit, carried off with absolute conviction. A fourth witness (Takashi Shimura) offers his own version, again different. But it is not just a matter of the witnesses being slippery: crucially, the bandit, the samurai and the samurai's wife each claim to have committed the murderous act themselves, the samurai by suicide. Truth, history, memory and the past … are these just fictions?

One character is told that lying is natural for all of us, and it is in the discrepancies that the essence of our humanity resides. Kurosawa invests the unknowability of the event with horror, suggesting that the three of them somehow chanced upon, or created, a black hole in human thought and communication, whose confusion and violence can never be clearly explained or remembered.

The movie that put Japanese cinema on the map. Unlike a traditional whodunit, events get murkier and more tangled with Kurosawa cranking up the intrigue and uncertainty as contrasting viewpoints clash. The stunning look of the movie - from the torrents of rain in the opening shots to the dappled sunlight in the forest - plays its part in making every little thing difficult to discern, backed up by forceful performances, especially from Toshiro Mifune.

The genius of "Rashomon" is that all of the flashbacks are both true and false. True, in that they present an accurate portrait of what each witness thinks happened. False, because as Kurosawa observes in his autobiography, "Human beings are unable to be honest with themselves about themselves. They cannot talk about themselves without embellishing."

The wonder of "Rashomon" is that while the shadow-play of truth and memory is going on, we are absorbed by what we trust is an unfolding story. The film's engine is our faith that we'll get to the bottom of things--even though the woodcutter tells us at the outset he doesn't understand, and if an eyewitness who has heard the testimony of the other three participants doesn't understand, why should we expect to?

Kurosawa's screenplay is only the ground which the film travels, however. The real gift of "Rashomon" is in its emotions and visuals. The first time I saw the film, I knew hardly a thing about Japanese cinema, and what struck me was the elevated emotional level of the actors. The message of "Rashomon" is that we should suspect even what we think we have seen. This insight is central to Kurosawa's philosophy.
Kurosawa's differing interpretations
Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon for the time would had looked like an experimental film about unreliable narrators and recounting an incident through different viewpoints and flashbacks.

In 17th century feudal Japan, some men take shelter from the rain they discuss a murder which took place recently. A notorious bandit (Toshiro Mifune) catches a glimpse of a woman's face (Machiko Kyo) travelling with her wealthy samurai husband (Masayuki Mori) and pursues them both. The husband does battle with him and is killed with his body discovered by the woodcutter.

At the bandit's trial, all the witnesses which includes the victim speaking through a medium give different accounts of what actually happened that day, a lot of it is contradictory.

The film shot in black and white is far from the historical sagas the director was known for, it is a simple story with a small cast that leaves you flummoxed with the different perspectives regarding the murder. Maybe Kurosawa was making a point about the justice system where people can see the same incident and come to different conclusion as well as indirectly wanting to show themselves in a better light.

The film is thought provoking and for Kurosawa a relatively short one but it has aged, with the acting looking a tad overcooked. The film also has a strange soundtrack which is basically Ravel's Bolero.
I saw it with my own eyes!
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 both aesthetically 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 the woman 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 a version 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 is as 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 to lie, 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.
a masterpiece. or only a seed
the book. and its adaptation. emotion, impressions. and memories. Rashomon could be defined as a ball of facts and testimonies, masterpiece or poem about emotions. but, more important, it has the rare gift to be a key. to yourself. it is artistically perfect. the acting, the dialogues, the scenes, the tension, the story who escapes out of screen for become a kind of personal experience. but the virtue of Rashomon is its special status of seed. because it grows up after its end decades and decades in the memory of its viewer. new senses, new sound of words, new nuances of gestures. so, it is a sleep of time. fascinating. and honest. complex. and too simple for not be an axis of questions.
"This time, I may finally lose my faith in the human soul."
This film has a lot in common with movies that turn out to be a dream in which the main character wakes up to realize that what just happened never occurred. I find those kinds of pictures less than satisfying because they seem to cop out of a final resolution to the story. "Rashomon" takes a somewhat similar approach, but instead of setting up a dream narrative, Kurosawa has his characters relate the circumstances of a murder from the perspective of four different observers. I can't say that that isn't a valid approach, but the problem I have is that the characters relating their stories don't seem to have credibility on their side. If I had to make a personal judgment, I'd say the woodcutter's appraisal of events seemed most valid because he didn't have a personal stake in the outcome of a murder investigation.

Looking individually at each of the players - the bandit Tajomaru (Toshiro Mifune) relates a tale that builds up his own self esteem - he valiantly fights the husband (Masayuki Mori), crossing swords with him twenty three times. The wife (Machiko Kyo) relating her version of events seems to be seeking atonement for her shame in being victimized by Tajomaru. The husband, telling his story through a medium after his death, seems willing to spare his wife the agony of betrayal and for suffering the shame of her rape. Finally, the woodcutter, who has nothing to gain by telling what he saw, except for the possible humiliation for not intervening because he was cowardly, was probably the closest to the truth about what happened. But we'll never know because the truth, which lies in the eye of the beholder, can potentially shift and change with each viewing of the film.

It will probably take some more viewings of the movie for me to gain a greater appreciation of it. As with "Seven Samurai", I find Kurosawa's pacing to be drawn out more than necessary; note the long time it took for the woodcutter to make his way to the scene of the crime in his version of the story. I'm also put off by the histrionics of a character like Tojomaru, who's over the top and manic delivery make him seem out of control. Granted, these are matters of preference with me, so I look at them somewhat like the players in the film who have their own biases in telling their story.
Distinctly Resonates As Akira Kurosawa's Finest Outing
Examining Rashômon is a lengthy process, mainly due to the substantial amount of material on offer and the thought-provoking questions which should be probed subsequent to viewing. Not only does the film ask some of life's most profound questions, but it also begins to confront various evocative ideas. Essentially, Akira Kurosawa's unmatched classic is about gaining an understanding; the film's first conversation introduces characters who "don't understand" and are looking for answers, this is opening the primary theme.

Personally, Rashômon has forever been favourite of Kurosawa's directional works. It also happens to be the film which introduced me to the work of an auteur; a man whose vision echoes that of a revolutionary cinematic historian. From the likes of Shichinin no samurai, to Ran, Kurosawa is *the* director of Japanese cinema. During his lifetime he managed to confirm himself as one of the world's leading film-makers. He was director who created cinema which was impossible to match, and his influence still resounds within even the most mainstream works of today. For example, the non-linear narrative structure of Rashômon has been respectfully woven in numerous films since. Rashômon was the work which propelled the career of Kurosawa; even though it was not widely regarded in its own country at the time, it was hailed by the critics of the Western world.

Rashômon is the compressed tale of an innocent woman's rape and her husband's murder, performed by a ruthless bandit (acted out by Kurosawa's long-time working partner Toshirô Mifune). Even though the bandit is caught and consequently put on trial, the seemingly simple crime soon becomes questionably more complicated as it is recounted from four individually detached "eye-witness" perspectives. Posing many philosophical questions for the viewer, the picture asks which story is the one to believe (if any), through -what was at the time and still remains- a highly stylised storytelling technique. Establishing a verdict on the heinous crime centred upon in Rashômon is as much an ordeal as the crime itself because it proves to be an incident which provokes moral questioning and fierce debate.

The film-making techniques used in Rashomon gave birth to a distinct style that Kurosawa was prepared to develop further in his later works, which can be seen in films such as Yojimbo and Shichinin no samurai. Level-headed pragmatism plagued Kurosawa's features throughout his earlier years; this was something that came as an advantage for his films, being that the characters (even the villains) portrayed in his films were genuine people you could feel compassion and remorse for. Also, Kurosawa began to define genres throughout the 1950s and 1960s, while also bringing to light some now-popular (often overused) methods of camera movement, e.g. dutch angles, revolving shots and amplified close-ups.

For those who question the film's offbeat narrative structure, they should ask themselves whether or not the cut-throat editing is there as a means of symbolising the colliding viewpoints. I consider this to be a daring means of combining humanitarian lies and honesty, and also a means of creating a disorientating, volatile impression. With Rashômon, Kurosawa's admiration for silent cinema came into evident practice; this can be seen through the minimalist set-pieces, which are a contrast to the complex storytelling procedure that his work embodies. The ambiguity of Rashômon is detailed through subtly metaphorical cinematography and lighting techniques. I have always seen the setting of the woods as a display of the work's central atmosphere (intrigue) and the shadows periodically depicting a loss of empathy and symbolising the isolated danger of the surroundings.

The majority of films fail to emphasise with the viewer, this can blamed on the morals being "mixed" and ultimately enabling the viewer to become unsure of a film's statement. However, with Rashômon the morals are clear and refined, without being preachy or simplistic. Summing up the greed, confusion, deprivation and indulgence of the world is a tricky business, but somehow Kurosawa has the ability to perform such a task with exceeding talent. Rashômon warrants a right to be hailed as a definitive classic. Unlike its story, I doubt that viewers of Rashômon hold clashing opinions, being that it is far too flawless to be argued over.
The Theme of the Picture....
A host of reviewers seem to think this movie is questioning the nature of truth or of reality. Perhaps the late director Robert Altman said it best in his introduction to the Criterion Collection DVD: "....the proper conclusion (is) that all of it's true, and none of it's true." According to this school of thought, Kurosawa's film speaks powerfully to the postmodern consciousness--in effect telling us that there is no such thing as objective truth or objective reality.

Nonsense. Many of these reviewers wonder at the inclusion of an "epilogue" in the movie--the bit with the baby at the very end--saying that it is unnecessary, but doesn't necessarily detract from the movie. It is no wonder: if the movie is trying to tell us that absolute truth does not exist or that reality is completely subjective, there is no need for this "epilogue." If that is what the movie is about, there is, in fact, very little need for anything but the stories of the participants/eyewitnesses. But the movie cannot be telling us that objective truth does not exist or that the nature of reality is insuperably perspectival, for underlying the competing truth claims and the varying perspectives on reality are hard, undeniable facts: a man is dead, and his wife has been had by another man, and each of three people testified in court that he or she murdered the dead man. These are presented as facts that are undeniably true.

The movie is ultimately about mankind: we are evil, so corrupted by our own selfishness that we can't tell the truth to or about ourselves. This was an important consideration for the humanist Kurosawa, for as his priest says, "If people cannot trust each other, this world might as well be hell"--in other words, why go on living if humanity is so incorrigible? The priest's problem is intended to be our own as we watch this movie: Throughout the movie, it is the priest's faith in mankind, his belief that life is worth living, that is tried--you never see him wondering if anything can be said to be "true" or ultimately "real." He, like us, believes at first that the woodcutter may be a "good man," or at least trustworthy, but the man is human, and is shown to be an unreliable storyteller.

Funnily enough, it is the same woodcutter who, in this particular story, is supposed to give us a reason to continue living. We know that man is incorrigible, that he can't do anything but be deceitful (at least to some degree), even about himself. Can there thus be any reason to think that this world is any better than a hell? Yes, says Kurosawa. The hope for man is in the kind of compassionate action displayed by the woodcutter in adopting the abandoned baby. As long as man can show compassion to his fellows, man can consider living to be a worthwhile endeavor.
Says Who?
In 9th-century Japan, a couple of men are sheltering from the pouring rain in a ruined temple called Rashomon. A woodcutter tells the story of a samurai's dead body he found in the woods three days earlier. The murderer was evidently a notorious bandit (Toshiro Mifune) who is captured and brought to trial.

Mifune admits to an unseen court that he tied up the samurai and then raped the guy's wife in front of him. The problem is that the wife responded enthusiastically. When Mifune tries to leave, she begs him to kill her husband and get rid of the witness to her dishonor. Mifune releases the samurai, there is a sword fight, the samurai is killed, and when Mifune looks around, the wife is gone.

The wife's testimony contradicts Mifune's. After the rape, Mifune leaves and the wife weeps abundantly as she crawls to her husband and begs his forgiveness. His response is only a cold, silent stare, filled with loathing. She implore him to kill her, then, and scuttles towards him with her dagger in hand. Then she faints. When she wakes up, her husband is dead, with her dagger in his chest.

The samurai husband testifies through a spooky medium that both stories are false. When he was finally free, both the bandit and his own wife had disappeared, and he killed himself with the dagger.

The woodcutter who is recounting the testimony says all the stories are baloney because he, the woodcutter, was a silent witness. He didn't testify at the trial because he didn't want to get involved. HIS story sounds like the real one because, uninvolved as he was, he has nothing to gain from lying about the events.

But, no. One of the other men brings up a discrepancy that casts doubt on the woodcutter's story too.

We're not used to these kinds of stories. We don't know how to DO them the way Kurosawa did on a tiny budget. (It was remade with Paul Newman as "Outrage" and was a boring failure.) If it were made today, it would be filled with Uzis and exploding fireballs but in the original the only thing overdone is the acting, which is highly stylized.

You can overanalyze a thing. In this case we can take a nose dive into phenomenology and all that, but what such an analysis would remind me of is the early 1960s, before intuition began to guide our experience of the world, when some people still sat around on the floor with candles in the chianti bottles and asked each other what Truth was.

The fact is this movie can be boiled down to even simpler propositions. Here's one. "Everybody's memory is flawed." Here's another: "It's flawed in ways that exculpate us." I'm not arguing that Kurosawa didn't have more in mind that that, but just that the movie can be appreciated by people who didn't major in philosophy. We all have different views of reality. That's a relatively simple fact that everyone will agree on.

And we don't have to look far for instances. "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." "We know how many there are and where they are." "I use a wide stance." Well, this may not be everybody's cup of green tea. The rape isn't very explicit. There is no nudity. Nobody's guts gush out of his abdomen. The ghost acts like a decerebrate feline preparation. Not a curse word in the dialog. It's in black and white. No elaborate sets. And it uses subtitles. (I can hear the cry now -- "Hey, this thing's in Chinese!") It may not stimulate anyone's gonads but it may tickle his higher reasoning centers.
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