DVD Review: Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Rashomon’ Redefined Cinema
CHICAGO – The Criterion Collection has had a long relationship with Akira Kurosawa fans, releasing several of his films in the past, including “The Seven Samurai,” “Yojimbo,” and “Ran.” They have chosen “Rashomon” as the latest in their line of films to upgrade for Blu-ray and re-released on Criterion DVD. We got the latter and it’s another beauty.
First, a bit on the importance of “Rashomon.” Few films that are over six decades old have the same resonance and consistent power. We have been trained (and were even more so in 1950) to trust what we can see. Imagery is truth. And yet Kurosawa played with cinema’s version of truth, clarifying the idea that we are still seeing an interpretation of reality and not reality when we watch film. It’s a masterpiece, one of the best movies of all time and one that should probably be on the top ten of any list of the most influential movies ever made.
To make that point even further, Criterion sat down with Robert Altman and just let him talk about how “Rashomon” influenced him as a filmmaker. It’s a great interview and one of the highlights of the special features on this release. All of the features are interesting and the restored transfer, even on DVD, looks stellar. It’s another home run from the most important series of Blu-ray & DVD releases in the history of the form.
Rashomon was released on Criterion Blu-ray and DVD on November 6, 2012
Photo credit: Courtesy of The Criterion Collection
A riveting psychological thriller that investigates the nature of truth and the meaning of justice, Rashomon is widely considered one of the greatest films ever made. Four people recount different versions of the story of a man’s murder and the rape of his wife, which director Akira Kurosawa presents with striking imagery and an ingenious use of flashbacks. This eloquent masterwork and international sensation revolutionized film language and introduced Japanese cinema - and a commanding new star by the name of Toshiro Mifune - to the Western world.
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o Audio commentary by Japanese-film historian Donald Richie
o Interview with director Robert Altman about Rashomon
o Excerpts from The World of Kazuo Miyagawa, a documentary on Rashomon’s cinematographer
o A Testimony as an Image, a sixty-eight-minute documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew
o Archival audio interview with actor Takashi Shimura
o Original and rerelease trailer
o Booklet featuring an essay by film historian Stephen Prince; an excerpt from director Akira Kurosawa’s Something Like An Autobiography; and reprints of Rashomon’s two source stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, “Rashomon” and “In a Grove”