Tagged: film technique, medium, rashomon
15 January 2012
I’ve been watching and rewatching the medium’s scenes in Rashomon, trying to determine whether the peculiar visual jerkiness present is due to the film being sped up (that is, camera being slowed down), or simply due to the wind machine and the actor’s brilliance with her movements. I can’t really decide either way, and haven’t been able to find any mention of it in the relevant literature.
To me it looks possible that the film was sped up, or at least it seems particularly so when looking at the pieces of ash moving on the surface of the small table. The speed with which the medium swirls on the ground would also seem to indicate that the film is running faster than normal. But if it is sped up, the actor does a brilliant job with her movements and mouthing the words so that they could be dubbed with relatively normal speed.
What do you think? And do you remember anyone discussing this?
I just had a quick look at that part.. I hadn’t noticed it before, but it is a little jerkier than the other sections – but looking at the billowing of the robes and the way the smoke from the incense burner moves, I think as usual Kurosawa had his wind machine on at full blast!
I think the motion of this scene looks particularly fast in part because of the way its inter-cut with the more languid pace of the scenes in the grove. There is also a slight mismatch in the vocals with the mediums mouth movements. I suspect you are right that there was some tampering with the speed of the camera, but not by much, otherwise the flapping of the material would be visibly changed.
16 January 2012
It’s Kazuao Miyagawa! There is a nice tribute, here. It does detail what we already know about some of Miyagawa’s innovations in Rashomon-the use of mirrors to reflect light and the figure “8” tracks in the forest…..but it doesn’t tell us about the timing or cranking of the camera in the medium scene.
I do appreciate the love he is getting for framing, sensitivity to “one scene-one shot” continuity, and how his training as a calligrapher/painter informed his work.
21 January 2012
This scene is driving me crazy now! I watch it, it looks like the film is sped up. I watch it again, and I think it’s just the wind machines and the noh-like acting.
What really happened on that film set? What is the truth? Will we ever know?
If IMDB is correct, then Noriko Homna is still alive at 102! Wouldn’t it be great if someone could interview her?
Wow, it would indeed be great to hear her recollections. Honma actually has an interesting history with Kurosawa. From Stray Dog to Madadayo, she appeared in altogether ten Kurosawa films, but unless I’m mistaken, Rashomon was her largest role, and all the others are very small ones.
It is quite remarkable I think that someone could have such a very long career (working up to the age of 96 I see!), while ‘only’ doing minor walk on parts, albeit in very important films for the most part. Its possible I suppose that she had a theater career or was otherwise not a full time actress. IMDB throws up all sorts of intriguing little careers like that. It would be lovely to know more about her.
It would definitely be interesting to know more about her and her career. Maybe she indeed worked mainly in the theatre. She could also be just a “hobbyist” actor, but her performance in Rashomon appears so technically skilful that I doubt it.
For what it’s worth, Galbraith doesn’t seem to mention her and neither does Nogami, as far as I can see. Wider searches at Google Books don’t come up with anything.
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