Criterion Collection Pick of the Week: Rashomon

Rashomon (1950)

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Country: Japan

Running Time: 1 hr. 28 min.

Three stranded men: a woodcutter, a priest, and a commoner, are waiting out a rainstorm under an abandoned building. While there, they talk about a crime that they have all witnessed, but each of their stories is different than the other. Who is right? Who is wrong? Think you’ve had this problem before? (Without murder, of course).

Within these stories are the confessions of various players involved in the murder of a man. Each confessors’ story is different than the other. So what is the real story? Who is right? They may never know. The viewer may never know.

This easily relatable film of various accounts has a very strong rhetoric attached to it. Each story and confession within the stories are told by the characters directly to the camera as if they are asking the viewer to believe in their story. In addition, the majority of the film is told in flashbacks that reveal what happened in different ways (each person has a different version of how the crime happened). It is not as complicated as any other art house international film, but still does have a strong aesthetic to it.

Aaron Sorkin, in an interview with Script magazine, said that this film served as an inspiration for the screenplay for The Social Network. I’m betting to go off and say that George Lucas was influenced too in creating Star Wars. Much of the action feels like a Jedi fight sequence, there’s a feisty leading female character, and many mystical mysteries never solved. There are probably other Kurosawa films that were involved with the creation of Star Wars, but one thing that makes this film unique compared to other Kurosawa films is its connection with Japan in an earlier area. Kurosawa made several historical epics, but eventually crossed over to modern pics later in his career.

The point is that this film has an unresolved mystery that is worth pondering on time after time. It is one of the most influential and pivotal films in film history worth at least one viewing in someone’s lifetime.

Screenwriter. Humanities scholar. Cinephile. Samantha hails from Richmond, Virginia. She hates Hollywood synergy and people that get on her nerves. When she's not busy writing her next masterpiece or watching movies on Netflix and Hulu Plus, she serves on Student Senate, Student Life, SSSF, and SLAC where she tries to make "home" a better place for other students. Samantha would also like for people to understand that she loves Jean-Luc Godard films, even though he's anti-semitic and she's a Jew.

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