Akira Kurosawa is one of the most acclaimed directors of all time, maybe the greatest, for his outstanding contribution to cinema history. The only movie I’ve seen of his has been Seven Samurai, a film that I personally felt was a bit overrated. I found the movie to be long, tedious, and not as profoundly brilliant as I had heard so many times before. (Here’s my review of the movie: Seven Samurai.) On the other hand, Rashomon is truly remarkable.
This movie not only became the first Japanese film to gain critical acclaim from Western audiences (it would go on to win the equivalent of an Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1952) but it spawned the term “Rashomon Effect.” And for good reason.
The first time I ever saw the use of the Rashomon technique of storytelling was in The Last Jedi when Rian Johnson used Luke, Kylo Ren, and then Luke again to tell contradicting details of the same event. Rashomon, being the creator of this storytelling phenomenon in cinema, does this to perfection, telling a fascinating story in four ways with remarkable precision.
Unlike Seven Samurai which, after a while, becomes boring to watch with its lackadaisical approach to getting to the nitty-gritty of the story, Rashomon is riveting from the outset.
Every character feels like they sprung from the page of a book, every actor delivers a resounding performance, and the directing, oh it’s sublime. The use of lighting is almost like another character to the plot, adding nuance to a tale that is already as good as it gets.
On HBO Max, there is an Akira Kurosawa collection and I absolutely cannot wait to now delve into the rest of his films. Next up is Ikiru and if it is anything like Rashomon it’s going to be a real treat to watch.
Once I’m finished with these films I’ll rank them. That’s going to be exciting. For now, I can honestly say that Rashomon is 5 out of 5 stars and 100 out of 100, it’s that good.
Until then, I thank you for reading and I hope you have a fantastic day.