The art film series continues with Kurosawa’s “Rashomon” (1950)
(Above: I love the new Criterion cover art)
I’ve only seen a small handful of Kurosawa films, I’d like to see more, but I imagine this would be the only one to fit the ISMN format, as it is the most unusual of his work and even includes slight fantasy elements.
A film that gave birth to the term “Rashomon Effect” in the courthouse, meaning several different conflicting stories to explaining the same event/crime.
A brilliant masterpiece from a masterful director
Author: MovieAddict2014 from UK
8 April 2006
“Rashomon” was Akira Kurosawa’s first national hit (becoming, at the time, the highest-grossing foreign film in America) and even gained an Oscar for Best Foreign Film, but almost sixty years later it still hasn’t lost any of its impact. It is widely revered as one of the most influential films of all-time, but unlike some other movies, it is not a film that feels dated. The revolutionary methods of Kurosawa are still effective and on-par with the cinema of today — this isn’t a movie where you say, “Yeah, fifty years ago it might have been different, but now it’s done in all the movies.” Kurosawa’s techniques are still superior to most of his imitators.
5.0 out of 5 stars A prescient masterwork about “truth” and “justice”, July 13, 2013
What is a masterpiece?
That word gets used a lot to describe all kinds of things. Most of the claims for masterpieces are dubious at best. In my opinion, and the opinion of thousands of people who have watched Rashomon over the years, this film is a bona fide masterpiece. But even though thousands of people agree that this film is one of the very best ever made, does that mean that my opinion and the opinions of those thousands are true? No, it doesn’t. We all are subjective humans prone to errors and biases, and “truth” is something that may be completely out of our grasp. Are we viewing truth or just a convincing illusion that everyone agrees on? This is one of the many questions that Rashomon poses.
If we try to be as objective as we can and at least form criteria to judge this film a masterpiece, we could check off some of these questions as yes or no.
Does this film really make you think? Yes. In fact, it forces you to think. After all, as the viewer, you’re trying to figure out who murdered and raped somebody.
Does this film have truly stunning cinematography and camerawork? Yes, some of the best ever. Especially for a film released in 1950.
Does this film have incredible actors in it? Yes, Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura are both in this film, two of the very best actors you’ll come across.
Is this film directed exceptionably? Yes, Akira Kurosawa. Enough said. This artist directed superb films like bees make honey.
Does this film actually have an “Effect” named after it? Yes, it does. Not many movies can say that.
Does this film continue to influence TV, movies, books, and even scientific research to this day? Yes, without a doubt. You’ve probably seen something or read something using Rashomon in some way, and you didn’t know it.
I’ll give a brief synopsis. A murder and rape occur out in the woods. Someone is accused of committing both crimes, and a trial is held. There are four “witnesses” who give their own accounts of what happened that day. The problem is that all of the accounts contradict each other in some way. Even after hearing the rape victim testify, you are not even convinced that a rape occurred because she says a lot of things that are self-serving and things already demonstrated to be false. What in the name of the Rashomon gate really happened? Which story is correct?
The unreliability of eyewitness testimony is now something firmly documented by science, but at the time Kurosawa made this film, it wasn’t. In fact, eyewitness testimony was once considered the bedrock of the justice system, something unassailable and key to proving or disproving a case. Now, of course, we know that an eyewitness account is vulnerable to all sorts of things, most of which can’t be avoided. People can view the same event happen, and not one person’s account of what happened will completely match another. And people can be made to “see” things happen that they didn’t actually witness, a fact born out by current research as well. The fallibility of human perception is now beyond dispute. So how can we know the “truth”?
As with all great art, this movie poses great questions that don’t have easy answers, if there are any answers at all.
Did you see what you think you saw? Is your memory of an event accurate? We’d like to think so, but it is itself a human bias to fool ourselves with comforting illusions to protect our own egos. At least being aware that our brains aren’t all they are made out to be can at least help us on the road to truth.
Bonus Short Film: "Romance Sentimentale" (Sergei M. Eisenstein) 1930
A 1930’s precursor to MTV music videos! See one of Eisenstein’s experimental shorts about a woman singing romantically in Russian combined with overlapping cinematography and some odd special effects, waves and falling trees. Almost cartoony
From the director of “Que Viva Mexico!”
Time: Friday March 21st @ 7:30 PM
Price: Free of course
Food and new friends welcome. No drugs, alcohol or smoking please.
See you there!
VHS Transfer/Unrated (Probably PG)
It’s my last time hosting ISMN @ Brewvies people, but not to worry, I’ll be handing this film off to my friend and ISMN veteran Jesse Tucker.
Please give him a warm welcome!
You’ve probably noticed ISMN and this blog have slowed down a bit, and there’s a good explanation.
1. I moved out of “Art City Palace” and back to my home town Ogden, UT. 2. I started a new job as an early reader co-author and artist with co-author Jenni James for the series “Andy and Annie: A Ghost Story”
The hard copy should be up on Amazon anytime now but for now here’s a link to the kindle version:
3. I’m opening up a video/record store in Ogden called “Video Cave.” The biggest draw being old and rare films unavailable on DVD/Netflix/or Redbox :) (It used to be an old pawn shop).
4. My dear mumsy has experienced a stroke and gave us quite a scare. I’ll be closer to home to help take care of her. She has no paralysis but this has greatly effected her memory.
5. I just need a break. After running ISMN weekly for the past decade and over 2 years at Brewvies, I’ve run out of steam and don’t have the energy at the moment to give it the attention it deserves. I will still attend and advise Jesse’s screenings in SLC, but any ISMN that I still host will probably stick to once a month privately with friends - The private art film series will continue :) (Make sure you’re on my mailing list ;)
I don’t know if I can think of a better way to end my own hosting run at Brewvies than with one of my new favorite discoveries “Game of Death.” A VHS I found at a convenience store while visiting Calgary Canada.
And believe me folks, it’s so refreshing to find a new “so bad it’s good” film this solid! Simple and ridiculous, this sci-fi low budge is a breath of fresh air from the vaults of 80’s camp straight to video madness. (My guess is that this never made it to the theater, knowing most of the Rae Don VHS library.)
Some favorite reviews from Amazon.com:
5.0 out of 5 stars King of the super 8’s December 20, 2013
By lindsay norgard
Wow from the days of super 8 and no budget monster type film making. Really have to appreciate the era and low budget and kid fan filmmaker. Good primer to Spielberg and JJ’s Abrahms film Super 8. Fun stupid fun, silly and just plain 80’s chesseball fun.
(Above: An example of the fine dialog found in “Game of Survival”)
5.0 out of 5 stars Do it! March 27, 2012
By Movie Madness
Format:VHS Tape|Amazon Verified Purchase
Do you think you can survive the game? I did and I’ve got 3 words for you… Apocalyptic Cheese Fest!
Sadly there are hardly any reviews and photos from “Game of Survival” online, hopefully this screening will help motivate an actual DVD release! Heck I might even buy a Blue Ray player for the first time, if that’s how it was re-issued!
Bonus Short Film:
Robogo Productions is back with another “Ida” film and the sequel to last year’s “Valentine’s Date” film! Incredibly Strange Movie Night is proud to debut:
"Valentine’s Date 2: Ida’s Revenge"
I’ve seen half of the finished product and if you thought Ida was disturbing before, this blows the other shorts out of the ball park. This new one is more like a psychotic horror film! I even frightened myself seeing some of the footage!
Starring Jordan Harker and myself (as Ida)
Time and Place: 10:45 PM @ Brevies Cinema and Pub in SLC
Price: FREE as always
Join us for my last hosting of ISMN at Brewvies before I turn it over to other capable hands :)
Thank you so much for your support over the years!!!!
See you there!
- BC Sterrett
(PS Message - For my girl friend’s parents and the people who are scared of Ida films: I’m not the person I portray on film. It’s called acting - like someone getting into character when you listen to a book on tape. It’s not real I promise. It’s only a movie and I’m acting from a script.)
So, this is a little embarrassing… I’ve lost tonight’s film in the mix of moving my film archive. Which is terrible since it is out of print and near impossible to find.
However, i’ll be showing another incredibly rare bizarro foreign flick in it’s place. Here’s a couple still shots:
Ok, that last one might give it away. If you know what this is, you have my permission to marry me. PS. I’ve never shown it before…
See you tonight!
Ticket Price: FREEEEEEEEEE
Facebook event link:
Tristi Pinkston and Trifecta Books are proud to announce the release of Andy & Annie: A Ghost Story by Author Jenni James and illustrator BC Sterrett. Come celebrate with us by joining this event, and then be on hand from 7 - 9 pm to win prizes (including hand-drawn artwork from the book), participate in Q & A with Jenni and BC, and read excerpts from this great children’s book that’s Junie B. Jones meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid with a paranormal twist. Feel free to spread the word!