'Rashomon' Screening: Akira Kurosawa Classic

Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo in Rashomon

Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo in RashomonAkira Kurosawa's 1950 classic Rashomon, which officially introduced Japanese cinema to the world at large, will be the next film presented as part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' series “Monday Nights with Oscar.” The East Coast premiere of the new digitally restored print of Rashomon will take place on Monday, November 17, at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy Theater in New York City.

Though it revolves around the rape of a woman and the murder of her Samurai husband, Rashomon, co-adapted by Kurosawa and Shinobu Hashimoto from Ryunosuke Akutagawa's stories “Rashomon” and “In a Grove,” is less a crime drama than an examination of the mind-boggling nature of truth. Set in feudal Japan, the film depicts the incidents from four different – and contradictory – points of view: that of the alleged rapist/bandit (Toshiro Mifune); the Samurai's widow (Machiko Kyo, delivering the film's strongest, least mannered performance); a woodcutter (Takashi Shimura) who claims to have witnessed the crime; and, via a medium, the ghost of the unfortunate Samurai (Masayuki Mori).

I should add that Rashomon boasts excellent black-and-white cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa. The film's title, by the way, refers to the gatehouse in front of which the woodcutter, hiding from heavy rainfall, narrates the various tales to a boisterous commoner.

In Hollywood, Rashomon was remade as The Outrage (1964), a generally panned Western directed by Martin Ritt, and starring Paul Newman, Claire Bloom, Rod Steiger, and Edward G. Robinson. Kurosawa's film has also influenced numerous other productions, among them The Usual Suspects (1995), Courage Under Fire (1996), Where the Truth Lies (2005), and Vantage Point (2008).

Machiko Kyo in Rashomon

The Golden Lion winner at the 1951 Venice Film Festival, Rashomon also won the 1953 Honorary Foreign Language Film Award for former World War II enemy Japan (the best foreign-language film Academy Award category was established in 1956) and was nominated for its black-and-white art direction (Takashi Matsuyama, H. Matsumoto). Additionally, the film earned Akira Kurosawa a Directors Guild of America nomination and a National Board of Review win, while also receiving that organization's best foreign film prize.

This Rashomon screening will feature the new restoration from the Academy Film Archive in association with the Kadokawa Culture Promotion Foundation and The Film Foundation.

Toshiro Mifune, Daisuke Kato in Rashomon

Tickets for Rashomon are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. Tickets may be purchased through the Academy's online ticketing system at www.oscars.org. There are no transaction or processing fees. Tickets may also be purchased by mail or at the door on the night of the event (subject to availability).

The Academy Theater is located at 111 East 59th Street in New York City. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. All seating is unreserved.

For additional information call (212) 821-9251 or visit www.oscars.org/events.

Photos: Courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library

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