July 30, 2012
By Fabresta_Cat BRONZE, Beijing, Other
Fabresta_Cat BRONZE, Beijing, Other
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Japanese movies, like movies in Poland, Greece, Russia, are measured and bestowed with both innovation and tradition on the cinema as an art to develop its strength and beauty. In the middle of the twentieth century, the directors of “the other Europe” such as Tarkovsky, Tarr, and Angelopoulos, and also those great Japanese directors, such as Ozu, Naruse, embracing art films and popular films, were developing new forms of expression that brought verve to this dying cinema industry. Wonder, in which cinema was born, appeared on the stage of history again during this period. Among these great names, Akira Kurosawa has always been considered as the most important and influential, for he is the incarnation of movies that inhibited audiences with their terror and ecstasy, revolutionary skills and classic approaches, overwhelming disappointment to reality and vague hope to ideal.

Cinephilia, the name of the distinctive kind of love that cinema inspired, includes the wonderful experience of being “hoping, urging, frightened and elated”. Kurosawa’s Rashomon provided people with such experience, spiritually complete catharsis. In a sense of art, this film consists of elements, each of which expresses itself in its own way----plot, light, sound, character?setting----each is peculiar----manifesting a richness of various emotions and a continuity of logics to be found in no other movie people have yet seen. Being kidnapped by the movie, as what Susan Sontag said, is the best way to enjoy it. Such experience can be achieved only if the movie itself is attractive emotionally, spiritually, and technicallly. Rashomon, in this case, is this sort.

Adopted from two stories, Rashomon and In a Grove, both of which are from a Japanese writer, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, the movie Rashomon reveals the most ominous aspect of human nature, through which I discovered that human is often full of unconscious prejudice, contradictory and hypocrisy. When exposed, such qualities make people frightened and desperate. The movie gives an account of a story that is allegoric. It is a story about a murder. Through different descriptions from people out of their own motivations, and the truth is distorted, thus making the whole incidence look as if through flashing spectacles which caught the light so that you could see nothing “human” behind them. The selfishness, along with the most ominous human behaviour, such as revenge, atrocity, and evil desire, is denuded right in front of you. Although challenging people’s faith in humanity, the movie also brings people the hope in humanity, because people who feel guilty and desperate are also bestowed with the chance of retrospection, just like one of the characters, the priest, stand for religious belief and deeply rooted faith in human nature, challenged by what he saw and heared, also struggles for the new light of hope.

Technically speaking, this movie is also exceptional and phenomenal. Cinematography also contributes to the allegoric plot. Its control of natural light, the symbolic use of light, and use of contrasting shots, for example, in one sequence, there is a series of single close-ups of the bandit, then the wife, and then the husband, which then repeats to emphasize the triangular relationship between them, contribute an enormous ideas and support to the movie. On the aspect of sound, Kurosawa also manifests his prefrence of silent movies and modern art. "Cinematic sound is never merely accompaniment, never merely what the sound machine caught while you took the scene. Real sound does not merely add to the images, it multiplies it."Kurosawa said accordingly, "I like silent pictures and I always have… I wanted to restore some of this beauty. I thought of it, I remember in this way: one of techniques of modern art is simplification, and that I must therefore simplify this film." As a Western movie critic says, in this movie, Kurosawa shot a scene with several cameras at the same time, so that he could "cut the film freely and splice together the pieces which have caught the action forcefully, as if flying from one piece to another." Futhermore, the composer, Hayasaka, also contributed to the beauty and success of the movie. Thus, in those years, the movie symbolized the intellegence of Japanese movie makers and the unpredecented impact it brought to the whole world, giving the Westerners a new understanding of Asian movie. Althoug Japaneses themselves denied the later contribution.

Rashomon brought Kurosawa the recognition from the West and the controversy in his native country. When Rashomon came to prominence, the Western critics, exhilarating and feverish, claimed that there appeared a real master of the art film in the remote Far East. However, when it came to Kurosawa, people were confused by its exotic expression and by no means admired it as innovative. Some domestic critics even stubbornly thought the movie was emblematic of Kurosawa’s surrender, in which an effort to ingratiate himself with Western perspective, and the movie itself was depraved of its origin. Despite the everlasting disputation touched off by the movie, Kurosawa beat his own way against others simply by responding that, “Japanese think too little of our own things”. Clearly, it is the demonstration of the various yet sometimes invisible Japanese civilizations. Anyhow, there is nothing can deny the eternal impact brought by this movie to the art cinema. Even in Hollywood, the place where cinema industry is thought to be the most commercial and utilitarian, people commemorated the great achievement of Kurosawa by remaking Rashomon as the movie starred by Paul Newman and Claire Bloom, The Outrage. Well, it seems that the nature of pursuing beauty and art itself is deeply rooted in everyone’s consciousness. And even nowadays, when James Cameron narcissistically sells his 3D tricks, people still cannot help from recalling the feeling of being kidnapped by Kurosawa’s magical movies.

The author's comments:
Kurosawa is one of the most influential movie directors in the twentieth century, and his works are highly praised even by those most scathing critics.

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