Rashomon: Kurosawa & McNeil

I know today's April fool's day, but I swear I did not paste my face into this scene.

One of my favorite pastimes is sharing classic films with my son T'naa. Tonight was Kurosawa's turn with Rashomon.

Flash backwards to 1950 post-war Japan, five years before I was born. It was a quasi-dark place with a significant part of the country still in ruins from the war. It made perfect sense to shoot it in black & white; Kurosawa was a visionary who was able to capture the essence of his times with this film, even as he pretended to take you even further back in time with his narrative.

A lot of critics didn't get this part of the story, but that's ok, they weren't there. There was a subtle pervasiveness under the surface that had to do with questioning the very essence of what virtue, righteousness, and honor were all about. After all, the omnipresent ravages of WWII were just five years previous to this, and was still very raw in everyone's psyche and everyday experiences.

Kurosawa sensed the more delicate nuances of this and offered a deep intuitive understanding with his interpretation of what it may have meant. I always thought that his tactic of getting the audience involved by way of having them figure it out was a uniquely insightful approach. One could even make the argument that it was a postmodern approach, but I don't have enough time to go there for now.

I hardly ever see much written about the last ten minutes of the film, where the three characters find the baby in the ruins and driving rain. All I'll say about it is that perhaps one gets a different perspective if you're actually in the scene. The oppressive rain finally stops and the orphan baby was added to the family, even has the Kimono and talisman were stolen. Interesting metaphors. One wonders if perhaps there may be glimmers of innocence, hope and humility over the horizon, but at what price, and who really knows?

My son busted me and saw me (or my twin) in the film tonight. Dang. Oh yes, and that big thing in my garage is not a time machine, it's just a hydrogen powered refrigeration unit. Do check out the last five minutes of the film and look who's playing one of the characters.

Story Copyright Larry McNeil, 2011, All Rights Reserved

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