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Akira Kurosawa Online Film Club #1: Rashomon, May 1st

RashomonAs decided earlier, AkiraKurosawa.info‘s Akira Kurosawa Online Film Club will kick off on May 1st 2008 with Rashomon. Everyone is welcome to participate.

The Film Club was set up to give us a chance to watch and discuss Kurosawa’s films “virtually together”. The idea is that each of watches a chosen movie by a certain date and we then proceed to discuss the film together at the forums.

Rashomon is the first film that we will be watching this way, and therefore also something of an experiment for all of us.

What you need

Apart from an Internet connection and the willingness to participate, you only need to get hold of a copy of Rashomon. You should be able to rent it or buy it without problems in most regions around the world. For some pointers, check out the entry for Rashomon at my Kurosawa DVD buyer’s guide.

The Rules

There are only a few rules, but I would like everyone participating to be aware of them.

– Please don’t start the discussion before May 1st. If you want to write something about the film before May 1st, you can do that on your computer and save it. Then, post your observations on the day that the discussion is marked to start.

– Normal forum rules apply. Do your best to keep your posts thoughtful, and proof read what you have written for both language and content before hitting that submit button.

– Everyone has the right to express their views. There may be more than one way to interpret things. Keep this in mind.

– Be polite.

About Rashomon

Rashomon (1950) is considered to be among the most influential films of all time. By entering and winning at the Venice Film Festival in 1951, it introduced not only Kurosawa but the Japanese cinema in general (little of which was known abroad) to the Western audiences.

Rashomon, based on two short stories by the Japanese author Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927), uses a narrative technique of conflicting multiple point of views which has since been copied in a number of films and other works of art. It is also experimental in terms of its style, cinematography, lighting and editing.

Related works

If you happen to have spare time on your hands, reading Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s short stories “Rashomon” and “In a Grove” might give you an insight into how the original stories were adapted to film. Both stories are available in most Akutagawa collections.

The 1964 western The Outrage is an adaptation of Rashomon. The film appears to be unavailable on DVD at the moment.

The recent Hollywood thriller Vantage Point (2008) has repeatedly been compared with Rashomon. The film itself has received rather poor reviews, with the current Tomatometer standing at 36%. If you are interested, however, there is a good chance that you should be able to catch the film in a theatre near you, wherever in the world you happen to live.

Countless other films, books and TV series have also used Kurosawa’s Rashomon as an influence. There are far too many to list.

Background reading

I will do my best to provide a summary of what some of the most influential people writing on Kurosawa’s works have previously written about the film. I will let you know when this is ready. You may use the information provided in any way you wish, or completely ignore it.

Of course, mine will be only a brief summary. If you would be interested in doing your own background reading, see my list of Kurosawa books.

The next film

We still haven’t made our mind about the film that will follow Rashomon in our Film Club. Whatever the film, however, it is scheduled for June 1st.

I am open for any ideas.

Promotion

If you happen to know someone who could be interested in taking part in the Kurosawa Film Club, don’t hesitate to invite them! You may also, if you so feel, post on film forums and movie mailing lists about the Club, but please no spamming!

And if you use the service, why not give this article a digg?


Discussion

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Lewis Saul

If you happen to have spare time on your hands, reading Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s short stories “Rashomon” and “In a Grove” might give you an insight into how the original stories were adapted to film. Both stories are available in most Akutagawa collections: see for example Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

The stories are also reprinted in the Criterion DVD.

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Vili Maunula

Indeed, an excellent point Lewis! I had completely forgotten about that.

They are also available in the Rashomon book edited by Donald Richie, and which is a collection of critical essays on the movie as well as including a continuity script.

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