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This is an amazing film that plunges into the conceptions of truth and justice. The film opens on the gates of Rashomon during a heavy downpour. As the camera cuts to closer shots of the building, two men come into focus. I could feel their sadness as the camera came to a close up of them staring off into the rain. Immediately this gives the film a gloomy start. Most people do not like rainy days and would associate that feeling to the opening scenes. However, rain can add a sense of mystery or suspense as well. That is what is so amazing about Kurosawa’s use of weather in the film.
Akira’s use of weather to add atmosphere in every scene was amazing. This additional layer helped the audience create an emotional connection to the film. Prior to this film it never occurred to me that weather was purposefully used in film to help create a more dynamic scene. Akira’s use of heavy rain reminded me of the iconic scene in The Notebook. Where the two lovers are standing there emotional about where their relationship left off, arguing in the rain. Ryan Gosling pulls Rachel McAdams closer for a very passionate kiss. Here the rain added a sense of urgency and a romantic overtone. Accordingly, in both cases the downpour added a dynamic layer to their respected films. Akira’s utilization of weather conditions as another moving element to capture the audience’s eye and keep them captivated in the story was truly a game changer. In cases such as in the woods when everything else was silent, the camera’s main focus was leaves flowing in the wind. No dialogue, no action, nothing but leaves moving, giving that calming effect. Allowing us to see the character in a peaceful state. Another scene that stood out to me, was the testimony of the deceased through a medium. There the use of wind was more dramatic, faster and violent matching the mediums movements. Adding to the ominous and even sinister presence of the medium while he was channeling the soul of the deceased. Kurosawa’s use of weather as addition layers was truly something to admire.
The actual cinematography was also impressive. Throughout the film Akira was very delicate on the mise en scene. He consistently drew the audiences focus to the center of the frame. In the majority of the scenes motion was the center focus. As in the scene where Tajumaru rode across the entire frame of an extremely long shot. The path of the horse and rider was centered with the sky and ground evenly split above and below them. Another instance was the scene when the woodsman was contemplating the reasoning behind them lying. He was the center focus of the frame with one person to each of his sides in the background. Even though the priest and the commoner were the ones speaking it was the woodsman’s facial expressions that would draw audience’s attention.
Kurosawa’s Rashomon had many great components that added fundamental layers to an amazing storyline. Creating an exceptional film to address a common crime, and the process to find the not so simple truth. Akira was a great director and definitely knew how to utilize natural elements. The wind and the rain both giving multiple affectivities. Additionally, the natural elements of the human emotion, body language, and even facial expressions. Rashomon is a classic film and prime example of auteur theory.
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