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Reviews:Rashomon: Criterion Collection (1951)
Home Vision Entertainment
Running time: 88 minutes. Rated NR. In Japanese with English subtitles; Black& White
DVD Release Date: March 26, 2002
Special features: Commentary by Japanese film historian Donald Richie; Theatricaltrailer(s); Video introduction by Robert Altman; Excerpts from "The Worldof Kazuo Miyagawa," a documentary film about Rashomon's cinematographer;Reprints of the Rashomon source stories, Ryunosuke Akutagawa's "InA Grove" and "Rashomon"; Akira Kurosawa on Rashomon: areprinted excerpt from his book Something Like an Autobiography.
Reality is subjective. Of course, since you've seen the Clinton impeachmenthearings and the O.J. trial, you already knew that. "Rashomon," theclassic gem of Japanese cinema by "the sensei"-Akira Kurosawa-featuresmore alternate realities than an episode of "Star Trek." The storyof a rape and murder told from multiple viewpoints (by witnesses, perpetratorsand the victims themselves) laid down an oft-imitated cinematic device, copiedand referenced countless times by such current films as Bryan Singer's"The Usual Suspects" and Doug Liman's "Go."
Masterfully photographed in high-contrast black and white, the composition andcamerawork tell the story so well that the minimal dialogue becomes almost perfunctory:it's a non-silent silent film. Thankfully, an insightful commentary trackby Donald Richie explains most of "Rashomon"'s beguiling plot,and the introduction by Robert Altman doesn't hurt either. This long-awaitedDVD also features a documentary on the film's cinematographer, which showcasessome of the clever ways filmmakers had to create effects before the dawn ofcomputer graphics. Highly recommended.