(In the Woods)
Toshiro Mifune, Masayuki Mori, Machiko Kyo, Takashi Shimura,
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.