Close Up

9 December 2019: Rashomon


Akira Kurosawa, 1950, 88 min
Japanese with English subtitles
Introduced by Christopher Kul-Want

"The film that opened the world’s eyes to the pleasures of Japanese cinema, Rashomon is famous for telling the story of a brutal encounter in the woods outside Kyoto – a samurai and his wife are stopped by a bandit, the wife raped, the husband killed – from the perspectives of all the participants and witnesses. Whose story is “true”? Rashomon both celebrates and annihilates point-of-view – call it late Cubism or early postmodernism, in a twelfth-century postapocalyptic landscape. What is amazing is that this film about storytelling is also a kind of pure cinema: between Kurosawa’s instinctual direction and Kazuo Miyagawa’s virtuoso camera, there is almost no need for words. The camera writes the account of a gesture, enacts the rush of a forest breeze: truth expressed twenty-four frames per second, a little different each time. Standing out among a stellar cast is Toshiro Mifune’s bug-bitten bandit, his antics a foil for surprising, even confusing, depths." – Judy Bloch

Part of Christopher Kul-Want's programme on Deleuze’s Cinema