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Rashomon Blu-ray Review

“Rashomon” is a thematically rich Akira Kurosawa film.

In what is widely considered to be one of Akira Kurosawa’s several masterpieces, “Rashomon” tells the story of a priest, a woodcutter, and a man talking about the tragic murder of a samurai. Via the court stories/point-of-views of a crazed bandit, a woman, her samurai lover (through a creepy psychic medium) and the woodcutter, we learn the truths/lies about what possibly led to the murder of the samurai. Did the woman betray her samurai lover? Did the samurai and the bandit fight for the woman’s love? Are any of these stories remotely true? That is the question.

What really makes “Rashomon” such a revered classic throughout the years is not just the unique anthological story structure, but the rich and complex themes the film presents. The story wants viewers to really think about dark side of human emotions (such as greed, betrayal, and selfishness) as well as the good that lies in us all (in this case, the woodcutter’s kind act at the end). This isn’t the type of film that gives you any real answers and, in fact, makes you wonder if the so-called truths are all just lies.

It can be argued that the film’s somewhat sluggish pacing and countless wordless scenes might make the film seem longer than it is, but by the time the credits roll, you do feel as if you have something that is both special and intellectually stimulating. And really, what more can you ask of from a film?


Presented in 1.37:1 1080p, the B&W “Rashomon” Bu-ray print is flat-out gorgeous. Despite a few jumpy frames in spots, fans should be pleased by everything from the rain soaked opening to the forest scenes.

The Uncompressed Mono track (with English subtitles) is sadly not overly impressive. It’s clear enough, but it’s definitely a little on the flat side.

* A thick booklet featuring an essay by film historian Stephen Prince, a book excerpt of Kurosawa chatting about “Rashomon,” and best of all, two Ryunosuke Akutagawa stories that inspired and were adapated for the film titled “Rashomon” and “In A Grove.”
* 2 “Rashomon” trailers.
* “Robert Altman On Rashomon”- The late director discusses Kurosawa’s complex film and its themes.
* “The World Of Kazuo Miyagawa”- Clips from a Japanese documentary film about the acclaimed cinematographer.
* “A Testimony As An Image”- An interesting 68 minute documentary in which script supervisor Teruyo Nogami interviews “Rashomon” crew members to discuss everything from Kurosawa to the shoot. Photo and image stills and film footage are spliced in throughout.
* “Interview With Takashi Shimura”- An audio interview with actor Takashi Shimura (the Woodcutter in “Rashomon”) by critic Gideon Bachmann from the 1961 Berlin Film Fest. Expect many discussions about Kurosawa’s directorial style.
* An in-depth commentary by author and film historian Donald Richie. Richie discusses cinematography, reality, the cast, the characters, themes, etc.

November 13, 2012 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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