* Rashomon -- 200...? Shows
* dreams : caligari & author's cinema stagematrix.com & cine101.com

2008 :

... use "Rashamon/Rashomon Principle" in CALIGARI





Dreams, Amarcord... for LUL & touring

Shows *
-- DREAMS * Synopsis: Eight fantastical vignettes from legendary director about man's relationship to nature. Visually stunning film was considered wildly uneven, but nonetheless has much to offer art-house devotees, Kurosawa's fans, cinema buffs.




Rashomon (1950): A bandit attacks a samurai and his wife in the woods. The subsequent trial features each participant telling a different point of view of the encounter. Also considered one of the most important and influential films ever made. Remade into the lousy The Outrage in 1964 with Paul Newman (as a Mexican), Edward G. Robinson and William Shatner. Rashomon Project (link) *

“Rashomon” is a movie about a rape that may or may not have taken place. Four people who witnessed the rape are brought before a judge to tell their side of the story. Each one of them gives an entirely different account of the event. [There are many stories told today that owe their structure to Akira Kurosawa’s work in this film. ]

The story is dark, I haiku notes to balance it... the absence of love and truth.

butterfly wings
graceful geisha fans
open and close
[Carmel C. Lively]



Dreams pix

Dreams: Sunshine Through the Rain. The Peach Orchard. The Blizzard. The Tunnel. Crows. Mount Fuji in Red. The Weeping Demon. [images to use ]

Fall'08 film class -- which story to start with?





spring outing
at river's side~
blossoming geisha


Rashomon based on Akutagawa's stories; the majority of the action in the film was actually an adaptation of "In a Grove". * Kon'jyaku monogatari (kon present + jyaku or mukasi past + monogatari tale) is a fairly tale in Japan... Should I do it without any dialogue, any words?


... In a mad world only the mad are sane. Akira Kurosawa (1910 - 1998)


"DreamStories" = Trinity ... Amarcord ... Mirror

"Dreams" page in film600? ... script.vtheatre.net/themes?

film.vtheatre.net/kurusawa & Drerams + web-video clips...


[ video clips ]

Through frozen rice fields,
moving slowly on horseback,
my shadow creeps by

Lonely silence,
a single cicada's cry
sinking into stone

The late evening crow
of deep autumn longing
suddenly cries out

... u21.us -- "Project Utopia" (After 2008) webshow : pomo.vtheatre.net [ virtual theatre ]

... video page

picasa album POV'07

... + photobucket.com/anatolant

The issue is not that writer "hides" something, but because of the unknown [Pinter], because we never know EVERYTHING... and most important things!

"Pauses of Knowledge" -- silence [extreme dramatic]

As in film phenomena -- secret is in what we do not see [ montage]

... and we have to live with this "unknown" = mystery, secret, suspense!

[ where to continue this thought? SUBTEXT in method.vtheatre.net? ]


Future Shows: RASHOMON 2005

. . . . child : dreams of a dead man
Whore and monk, we sleep
under one roof together,
moon in a field of clover
It's almost impossible (at least for westerners) to say "Japanese film" without saying "Akira Kurosawa" in the same breath. Not only is he the most widely known Japanese director outside of Japan, but his work has had more influence on filmmaking worldwide then almost any director ever. He also a good starting point for a discussion of the globalization of action films, because more than any other director, his influence is an obviously identifiable fingerprint in the action films of multiple countries.

Kurosawa began making movies in the mid 1940s, but truly hit his creative and critical stride with Rashamon, a movie he made in 1950. Japan in the 1950s was a very new Japan. WWII had ended, and the country had voted in a liberal democracy and was experiencing an economic upswing. It was, as such, a good time to be a filmmaker. In the new Japan, filmmakers were more free to express themselves creatively and politically. Many of Kurosawa's films, in fact, can be thought of as a critique of Japanese society (7). A more open society also meant that Filmmakers such as Kurosawa had more artistic influences available to them. Kurosawa then, was something new and unique, both to Japan and the west. He was clearly influenced by Japanese style (slow moving stories, lingering shots, thick mood), but also influenced by western styles and ideas (4, 6, 7). This earned him some criticism in his homeland (a few felt he wasn't Japanese enough) but allowed his films to resonate with the west (6). The aforementioned Rashamon allowed him to do just that, winning him the grand prize at the 1951 Venice Film Festival, and earning him inter-continental recognition. The decade which followed was a period of great creative and critical success for Kurosawa.

Kurosawa's movies explore the Japanese themes of honor, as well as the somewhat more western theme of "the quest" (7). Many of his movies borrow from Japanese history and legend. Kurosawa is known for sword-swinging Samurai epics. Watching a Kurosawa film, however, is not a violent experience. His films are often filled with action and fighting, but they are more artistic than shocking. There is little blood.

From *
Links: semio academ

Kurosawa List **



When I had finished SCANDAL for the Shochiku studios, Daiei asked if I wouldn't direct one more film for them. As I cast about for what to film, I suddenly remembered a script based on the short story "Yabu no naka" ("In a Grove") by Akutagawa Ryunosuke. It had been written by Hashimoto Shinobu, who had been studying under director Itami Mansaku. It was a very well-written piece, but not long enough to make into a feature film. This Hashimoto had visited my home, and I talked with him for hours. He seemed to have substance, and I took a liking to him. He later wrote the screenplays for IKIRU (1952) and SHICHININ NO SAMURAI (SEVEN SAMURAI, 1954) with me. The script I remembered was his Akutagawa adaptation called "Male-Female."

Probably my subconscious told me it was not right to have put that script aside; probably I was -- without being aware of it -- wondering all the while if I couldn't do something with it. At that moment the memory of it jumped out of one of those creases in my brain and told me to give it a chance. At the same time I recalled that "In a Grove" is made up of three stories, and realized that if I added one more, the whole would be just the right length for a feature film. Then I remembered the Akutagawa story "Rashomon." Like "In a Grove," it was set in the Heian period (794-1184). The film RASHOMON took shape in my mind.

Since the advent of the talkies in the 1930's, I felt, we had misplaced and forgotten what was so wonderful about the old silent movies. I was aware of the esthetic loss as a constant irritation. I sensed a need to go back to the origins of the motion picture to find this peculiar beauty again; I had to go back into the past.

In particular, I believed that there was something to be learned from the spirit of the French avant-garde films of the 1920's. Yet in Japan at this time we had no film library. I had to forage for old films, and try to remember the structure of those I had seen as a boy, ruminating over the esthetics that had made them special.

RASHOMON would be my testing ground, the place where I could apply the ideas and wishes growing out of my silent-film research. To provide the symbolic background atmosphere, I decided to use the Akutagawa "In a Grove" story, which goes into the depths of the human heart as if with a surgeon's scalpel, laying bare its dark complexities and bizarre twists. These strange impulses of the human heart would be expressed through the use of an elaborately fashioned play of light and shadow. In the film, people going astray in the thicket of their hearts would wander into a wider wilderness, so I moved the setting to a large forest. I selected the virgin forest of the mountains surrounding Nara, and the forest belonging to the Komyoji temple outside Kyoto.

Nothing in the cry
of cicadas suggests they
are about to die



Play (Adaptation) Rashomon (1959). The Fay and Michael Kanin Collection
Film Analysis
"The genius of "Rashomon" is that all of the flashbacks are both true and false. True, in that they present an accurate portrait of what each witness thinks happened. False, because as Kurosawa observes in his autobiography, "Human beings are unable to be honest with themselves about themselves. They cannot talk about themselves without embellishing."' [ ]


Kurosawa essay collection

Erotic Art [ images : costume design and mise-en-scene ]

Style Style Style

rain-wet grass
beneath the cherry tree
scattered blossoms

[Sue Mill]

the dark night of a soul

In the eleventh century, Rashomon was the name of the great south gate of Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. It is also the name of one of two short stories by turn-of-the-twentieth-century Japanese writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa (both reprinted in the superb booklet included with this DVD), from which this famous film was adapted. (It is actually the second story, "In A Grove," which supplies Rashomon's plot, and the first, its title and setting.)

In the short story "Rashomon," the ruined city gate is a hellish spot, where thieves and outcasts gather and unclaimed corpses are left to rot (and be vandalized). In the movie, Rashomon Gate retains this same hellishness, although there is also something about it reminiscent of a fallen temple. Within the shelter of the Gate, three men—a Buddhist priest, a woodcutter, and a commoner—gather to weather a rainstorm. The commoner, whose arrival launches the story, interrupts a heated conversation between the other two men. Both have just witnessed a criminal trial which has left them shaken. Indeed, the priest is so distraught he fears he may lose his faith.

Curious, the cynical commoner asks what has so disturbed them. Thus begins a recounting of the trial testimony, in which a rape and murder are described three times by three different eyewitnesses—the rapist and putative murderer, a brigand named Tajomaru (Toshiró Mifune); the victim of the rape and wife of the murdered man, a noblewoman named Masako (Machiko Kyó); and the dead man himself, a samurai named Takehiro (Masayuki Mori), who speaks from beyond the grave after his spirit is summoned by an eerie medium. (There will be a fourth eyewitness, who hasn't testified to all he's seen at the trial, and that is the woodcutter himself.)

Though the key events in each of the retellings remain the same—the violation of the woman and the death of the samurai—circumstances, motives, and meanings change drastically with each teller.

In the brigand's heroic version, after raping the woman he frees the samurai, whom he has tied to a tree stump, so he may revenge his wife's disgrace. They cross swords in a fair fight, and the samurai is killed.

In the wife's pathetic version, the brigand simply abandons her after the rape. Guilt-ridden for not dying in defense of her honor, she begs her husband for mercy—or death. But the samurai only stares at her in contemptuous silence. Driven to despair, she herself kills her husband with the dagger she meant for him to use on her, then tries repeatedly and unsuccessfully to kill < In the husband's tragic version, after the rape, his wife shrilly commands the brigand to kill her husband—the sole witness to her dishonor—then make her his wife. Disgusted by the woman's cruelty, the brigand offers to kill the wife for the samurai, but she escapes. The thief then frees the samurai and leaves him alone with his shame. Overwhelmed by betrayal and loss of face, he commits seppuku with his wife's dagger.

In the woodcutter's black-comic version, no one acts with a shred of dignity. The woman is hysterically vengeful—not caring who lives or dies, so long as someone pays for her dishonor; the two men are cowards; their sword fight is a burlesque, in which each runs away from the other; and the samurai is killed by chance, when he slips and the brigand seizes the moment to spear him with a thrown sword.

Although Rashomon is so famously about the subjectivity of truth that it has become a synonym for the idea, it is less famously and obviously about the nature of truth-telling. What appalls the idealistic priest, disgusts the decent woodcutter, and simply confirms the commoner's cynical view of human nature aren't merely the lies that men tell themselves and each other, but the vanity of those lies. In Rashomon, even beyond the grave, all is vanity—and a chasing after wind.

Ironically, the movie itself is an illustration of this, for it was director Akira Kurosowa's vanity (he feared his story was too dark) that caused him to tack on an "upbeat" ending—not in either of Ryunosuke's stories—in which the woodcutter rescues an abandoned infant, and thereby restores the possibility of a selfless human act. Everything else in Rashomon belies this sentimentality. Indeed, everything else in the movie is what makes Rashomon so disturbing, and so great.

A word—actually several thousand—needs to be said about Kurosawa's direction and editing, Shinobu Hashimoto's script (co-authored by Kurosawa), Kazuo Miyagawa's incomparable black-and-white cinematography, So Matsuyama's sets, and H. Motsumoto's art direction. The famous opening scenes in the rain and ruin of the Gate, with water spilling from all the eaves and angles, the woodcutter's amazing silent journey into the sun-dappled woods (for as in a fairy tale, the story takes place in the heart of a forest), the pre-Raphaelite exquisiteness of the shots of Masako as she passes Tajomaru on horseback or wets her hand in a forest pond…all of the imagery constantly acts out Rashomon's themes—its unfathomable mixture of darkness and light, reality and romance, vanity and…whatever else there is.

Criterion's transfer of this masterwork is the best I've seen. While there are a few visible flaws in the negative, overall contrast and tone are so good that these don't matter. Buy this disc.

- Jonathan Valin

film & lit

Next: demons
Dreams Dreams

All along this road
not a single soul – only
autumn evening comes

From 2007

[ + picasa "shows" album ]


[ sounds ]