Rashomon

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 Machiko Kyo, whose role as the aristocratic victim made her the most famous Japanese actress in the West, and earned her a Hollywood contract and a Life profile.

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