Date: 20 March 2014
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Language: Japanese (English Subtitles)
Duration: 88 minutes
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Mouawad Museum (Beirut, Lebanon)
Link to IMDB: Click Here
Trailer from YouTube: Click Here
Analysis by Alan MacFarlaine (2005) on YouTube: Click Here
Kurosawa in Review: Click Here
Into the Woods: A Rashomon Sequence Analysis: Click Here
The Criterion Collection: Kurosawa on Rashomon: Click Here
The Criterion Collection: The Rashomon Effect: Click Here
The Daily Republican: Click Here
The Film Emporium: Click Here
Media Reviews: Click Here
Roger Ebert: Click Here
Rashomon and Symbolism: Click Here
Synopsis: (Adapted from Wikipedia: Click Here)
Rashomon is a 1950 Japanese period drama film directed by Akira Kurosawa, working in close collaboration with cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa. It stars Toshiro Mifune, Masayuki Mori, Machiko Kyo and Takashi Shimura.
The film is based on two short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa: "Rashomon", which provides the setting, and "In a Grove", which provides the characters and plot.
The film is known for a plot device which involves various characters providing alternative, self-serving and contradictory versions of the same incident. The name of the film refers to the enormous city gate of Kyoto. Although the film was released to only a small number of cinemas internationally, Rashomon introduced Kurosawa and the Japanese film to Western audiences. It is considered a masterpiece and has won numerous awards, including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, and an Academy Honorary Award at the 24th Academy Awards.
The film opens on a woodcutter and a priest sitting beneath the Rajōmon city gate to stay dry in a downpour. A commoner joins them and they tell him that they've witnessed a disturbing story, which they then begin recounting to him. The woodcutter claims he found the body of a murdered samurai three days earlier while looking for wood in the forest; upon discovering the body, he says, he fled in a panic to notify the authorities. The priest says that he saw the samurai with his wife traveling the same day the murder happened. Both men were then summoned to testify in court, where they met the captured bandit Tajimaru, who claimed responsibility for the rape and murder. The film continues by showing the murder from the perspective of each of the protagonists.
Akira Kurosawa: (From Wikipedia: Click Here)
Akira Kurosawa (March 23, 1910 – September 6, 1998) was a Japanese film director, screenwriter, producer, and editor. Regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema, Kurosawa directed 30 films in a career spanning 57 years.
Kurosawa entered the Japanese film industry in 1936, following a brief stint as a painter. After years of working on numerous films as an assistant director and scriptwriter, he made his debut as a director in 1943, during World War II, with the popular action film Sanshiro Sugata (a.k.a. Judo Saga). After the war, the critically acclaimed Drunken Angel (1948), in which Kurosawa cast then-unknown actor Toshiro Mifune in a starring role, cemented the director's reputation as one of the most important young filmmakers in Japan. The two men would go on to collaborate on another 15 films. His wife Yuko Yaguchi was also an actress in one of his films.
Rashomon, which premiered in Tokyo in August 1950, and which also starred Mifune, became, on September 10, 1951, the surprise winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and was subsequently released in Europe and North America. The commercial and critical success of this film opened up Western film markets for the first time to the products of the Japanese film industry, which in turn led to international recognition for other Japanese filmmakers. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, Kurosawa directed approximately a film a year, including a number of highly regarded films such as Ikiru (1952), Seven Samurai (1954) and Yojimbo (1961). After the mid-1960s, he became much less prolific, but his later work—including his final two epics, Kagemusha (1980) and Ran (1985)—continued to win awards, including the Palme d'Or for Kagemusha, though more often abroad than in Japan.
In 1990, he accepted the Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Posthumously, he was named "Asian of the Century" in the "Arts, Literature, and Culture" category by AsianWeek magazine and CNN, cited as "one of the [five] people who contributed most to the betterment of Asia in the past 100 years".
Ryunosuke Akutagawa: (From Wikipedia: Click Here)
Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1 March 1892 - 24 July 1927) was a Japanese writer active in the Taisho period in Japan. He is regarded as the "Father of the Japanese short story" and Japan's premier literary award, the Akutagawa Prize, is named after him. He committed suicide at the age of 35 through an overdose of barbital.
He was born in the Kyobashi district of Tokyo, the third child and only son of father Toshizo Niihara and mother Fuku Niihara (née Akutagawa). He was named "Ryunosuke" ("Son [of] Dragon") because he was born in the Year of the Dragon, in the Month of the Dragon, on the Day of the Dragon, and at the Hour of the Dragon. His mother went insane shortly after his birth, so he was adopted and raised by his maternal uncle, Akutagawa Dosho, from whom he received the Akutagawa family name. He was interested in classical Chinese literature from an early age, as well as the works of Mori Ogai and Natsume Soseki.
He entered the First High School in 1910, developing relationships with classmates such as Kan Kikuchi, Kume Masao, Yamamoto Yuzo, and Tsuchiya Bunmei, all of whom would later become authors. He began writing after entering Tokyo Imperial University in 1913, where he studied English literature.
While still a student he proposed marriage to a childhood friend, Yayoi Yoshida, but his adoptive family did not approve the union. In 1916 he became engaged to Fumi Tsukamoto, whom he married in 1918. They had three children: Hiroshi Akutagawa (1920-1981) was an actor, Takashi Akutagawa (1922-1945) was killed as a student draftee in Burma, and Yasushi Akutagawa (1925-1989) was a composer.
After graduation, he taught briefly at the Naval Engineering School in Yokosuka, Kanagawa as an English language instructor, before deciding to devote his full efforts to writing.
In 1914, Akutagawa and his former high school friends revived the literary journal Shinshicho ("New Currents of Thought"), publishing translations of William Butler Yeats and Anatole France along with their own works.
Akutagawa published his first short story Rashomon the following year in the literary magazine Teikoku Bungaku ("Imperial Literature"), while still a student. The story, based on a twelfth-century tale, was noticed by author Natsume Soseki. Encouraged by the praise, Akutagawa thereafter considered himself Soseki's disciple, and began visiting the author for his literary circle meetings every Thursday. It was also at this time that he started writing haiku under the haigo (or pen-name) Gaki.
These meetings led to Hana ("The Nose", 1916), which was published in Shinshicho. Akutagawa followed with a series of short stories set in Heian period, Edo period or early Meiji period Japan. These stories reinterpreted classical works and historical incidents.
Examples of these stories include: Gesaku zanmai ("A Life Devoted to Gesaku", 1917) and Kareno-sho ("Gleanings from a Withered Field", 1918), Jigoku hen ("Hell Screen", 1918); Hokyonin no shi ("The Death of a Christian", 1918), and Butokai ("The Ball", 1920).
Akutagawa was a strong opponent of naturalism. He published Mikan ("Mandarin Oranges", 1919) and Aki ("Autumn", 1920) which have more modern settings.
In 1921, Akutagawa interrupted his writing career to spend four months in China, as a reporter for the Osaka Mainichi Shinbun. The trip was stressful and he suffered from various illnesses, from which his health would never recover. Shortly after his return he published Yabu no naka ("In a Grove", 1922).