Saturday, April 24, 2010
While 'Seven Samurai' was a grand epic, I think the movie that corroborates Akira Kurosawa's true directorial skill is 'Rashomon.' It's a movie that was made before most of his really famous work, but as great as his movies that followed are, I think what he accomplishes with it makes for the boldest, grandest statement of his career. Perhaps the most brilliant thing about the movie is the way it produces so much complexity with such a simple premise: one scene of a bandit terrorizing a man and his wife in the woods told from four different perspectives. Each one is different and there is no decisive answer as to who is telling the truth. 'Rashomon' reveals bluntly and honestly the essence of the 'flawed human being.' A perfect world there would be no lies, therefore no various points of view. The truth would be right before out eyes. But Kurosawa reminds us with 'Rashomon' that with human nature comes man's great problem: the inability to be truthful in order to protect his well-being. All this is intriguing and makes for great discussion, but the greatness of 'Rashomon' also lies within the narrative structure used by Kurosawa. He establishes the mood of ambiguity and complexity by introducing three men seeking cover from a rainstorm under the Rashomon gate. While they muse over the conflict in the forest, the film flashes back and gives us the first story of how the events unfolded. Then it flashes forward again, then back, and so on until the four stories are complete. This is a powerful movie, a pitch-perfect exhibit into the flaw of man and the craft of great moviemaking.