“I heard that the demon living here in Rashômon fled in fear of the ferocity of man.”
Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Masayuki Mori, Machiko Kyo, Takashi Shimura,
As you can see, this weekend has not been spent curled up with a book, a guinea pig, and a cup of hot cocoa. I had two consecutive sleepovers with two different friends, and so, I watched two different movies. And my very first Kurosawa film, no less! It’s old (1950, black and white), yet good.
The story is based on two short stories by Ryunosuke Atagawa (Rashomon for setting, and In A Grove for characters and plot). A samurai (Masayuki Mori) clad in blue and his wife (Machiko Kyo) are traveling on a road, and are waylaid by an infamous bandit, Tajomaru (Toshiro Mifune). The man in the blue kimono is killed, and the woman raped, but when all are brought to testify, whose story is really true?
At first, I wasn’t sure I’d like this movie. It starts off with buckets of rain (fun fact: Kurosawa added ink to the rain to make it appear against the grey sky), and a guy muttering, “I don’t understand,” over and over again. As the movie progresses, you may find yourself muttering the very same phrase. Each new story presented is different, with the only constants being: 1) the wealthy man is tied up and killed, and 2) his wife is raped. Only one story can be true in its entirety, since all accounts differ so widely. And most of the story is shot in a forest, so shade and leafy branches can hide things meant to be off-camera, or make things harder for the viewer to guess.
They never tell you what happened, but you end up forming your own theories. Leave it to the Japanese to make a movie about truth and human nature, or even the truth of human nature. I am usually not fond of mysteries or crime movies, but this one passes!