(Review originally written at 31 July 2006)

This is one of the earliest, if not earliest, widely known and acclaimed Akira Kurosawa masterpiece and is his best known work next to "Shichinin no samurai", "Kakushi-toride no san-akunin" and "Yojimbo". This is for a very good reason, for "Rashômon" is one of Kurosawa's best works. It's beautiful, multiple layered and thought provoking.

The movie is complex and multiple layered but the story itself is quite simple. Bascicly it's the same story, about how a Samurai got killed, only told from three and eventually four different perspectives. Each story is different and shows a different take on what really happened. In the end the movie leaves us guessing which story is the truth and it doesn't pick sides. Each story told from a character's perspective, is told by the characters to mainly make themselves look as honorable and good as possible. Therefor every story feels just as credible and not credible as the other. There is no truth, at least not an objective one in this movie. And there lies the complexity of the movie. This movie works as a reflecting one and shows us how men lie and deceit for their own good. It shows us the selflessness, we eventually all poses. It's a straight-forward and honest movie about the more ugly-side of mankind. This is what the movie is about and not about what the real truth in this case is.

Some of the stories show some similarities but also differ completely at the same time. It makes all of the stories interesting to watch. It's not like it gets boring or overdone after about two stories, every story is just as engaging and surprising as the other. Through the way of storytelling it becomes obvious that none of them are fully true and are told by the character them make themselves look as honorable and good as possible, like I already mentioned before. It makes you ponder why the character tell their story the way they do and what will be gained by them, rather than thinking about it who's story is the most credible one. It forces us to picture ourselves in the characters their minds. It makes "Rashômon" one of the most thought provoking and engaging movies out of history. You can always leave it up to Kurosawa to make a simple story multiple layered and thought provoking. This movie shows storytelling at its very best!

The movie is made with lots of style. Of course the directing is top-class but so is the interesting and refreshing cinematography and the musical score. It all helps to make the settings and sets look even more beautiful than they already were.

All of the actors also give a fine performance, especially Toshirô Mifune and Masayuki Mori, who also play the most important parts of the movie.

An one of a kind Kurosawa movie and masterpiece that shows storytelling at the most beautiful, complex and engaging way possible.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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