Rashōmon by Akira Kurosawa, the film that started it all (review)

Few works have given rise to an adjective. To find out everything about the “Rashōmon effect”, it’s here!

In late Heian Japan (794-1185), four people present very different versions of the same crime. A logger having discovered a body, a trial is opened. The first version of the crime is that of the bandit who admits to being the author of the murder, then we discover that of the wife who says she killed her husband, then that of the deceased samurai who, through the mouth of a medium, tells be committed suicide. The fourth version is that of the lumberjack who, returning to his statement, announces that he witnessed the scene…

In the early 1950s, Rashōmon, by Akira Kurosawa, was a revolution. How did this work change the history of cinema? Here are the details, at a time when this classic is in the spotlight on France 4. It is also visible for free on France.TV until July 24.

This is the film that started it all. Before him, Japan did not really appear on the map of world cinema. At least, observed from the West. A Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1951 and an Oscar for best foreign film the following year will force moviegoers around the world to look towards the rising sun.

Rashōmon So, from a certain Akira Kurosawa, 40 years old at the time and already a solid film director (around ten features to his credit). This film set in medieval Japan revolves around the body of a lifeless man in the heart of a forest. Four witnesses including the dead man himself, for four different visions of the same story. Who did it and why? Where does the truth lie? “ A story in four voices, which tells their four versions of hell. “, then boasted the trailer.

What is fascinating here is the way in which the story itself questions its own integrity. This paralleling of different points of view forces the narrative to constantly regenerate itself. A structure which obviously evokes the recent Last duel by Ridley Scott. However, we did not have to wait that long to find “ the Rashōmon effect ” on the screen. Let us cite for example The Ultimate Raid by Stanley Kubrick (1956) or Basic by John McTiernan (2003). Martin Ritt will remake Akira Kurosawa's film with Paul Newman called The Outrage in 1964.

A series adapted from Rashômon by Kurosawa in development

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