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Japan 1950

A riveting psychological thriller that investigates the nature of truth and the meaning of justice, Rashomon is widely considered one of the greatest films ever made. Four people give different accounts of a man’s murder and the rape of his wife, which director Akira Kurosawa presents with striking imagery and an ingenious use of flashbacks. This eloquent masterwork and international sensation revolutionized film language and introduced Japanese cinema—and a commanding new star by the name of Toshiro Mifune—to the Western world.

***

Kurosawa had for a long time wanted to make a film out of the stories of Ryunosuke Akutagawa, and had actually written a script, but Toho found it too great a risk, so Kurosawa left Toho to film what would become ”Rashomon” at Daiei, even though Nagata, the studio head, had no idea what the film was about.

And exactly what “Rashomon” is about is still today its main attraction, as its not so much about story, but more about, as suggest by Donald Richie, human action undistracted by plot. Told thru elliptic arranged tableaux, its dreamlike quality demands us to observe, rather than to follow.

It all begins with a woodcutter finding the body of a samurai, which subsequently leads to the arrest of the assumed killer, Tajomaru, and a court case, where several versions of the event is told, from their unique perspective: Tajomaru’s, the wife’s and the dead Samurai (through a medium).

Winner of the Golden Lion at Venice 1951, “Rashomon” became the film to break down the wall between Japanese film and the west, despite its Japanese response. Japanese critics didn’t like the film and the industry had not made it for exports, as they believed that foreigners wouldn’t be able to understand Japanese
film, which in turns lead Kurosawa to speak up and critique the industry for being afraid of supporting Japanese film.

Today, a good fifty years later, “Rashomon” stands one of cinema’s greatest masterpieces and the film by which “we”, the west, discovered Kurosawa by, who in turns made “Ikiru” and “Shichinin no Samurai”. It is a strange film, but nonetheless fascinating and hypnotic, and for those who just don’t get it, it will still be around in fifty years. That is the great comfort about art, it never ages, it never goes away, it always invites us back.

Henrik Sylow

Posters

Theatrical Release: August 25th, 1950

Reviews                       More Reviews                 DVD Reviews

Comparison:

BFI (UK) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion (US) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Oasis (Korea) - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Geert Jan Alsem and Pavel Borodin and Henrik Sylow for the Screen Caps!

1) BFI (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT

2) Criterion (US) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Oasis (Korea) - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

 Box Covers

 

 

Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...

(click titles for DVDBeaver reviews)

Criterion (without any extras) also available in The Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films - a 50-disc celebration of international films collected under the auspices of the groundbreaking theatrical distributor. It contains Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ashes And Diamonds (1958), L'avventura (1960), Ballad Of A Soldier (1959), Beauty And The Beast (1946), Black Orpheus (1959), Brief Encounter (1945), The Fallen Idol (1948), Fires On The Plain (1959), Fists In The Pocket (1965), Floating Weeds (1959), Forbidden Games (1952), The 400 Blows (1959), Grand Illusion (1937), Häxan (1922), Ikiru (1952), The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952), Ivan The Terrible, Part II (1958), Le Jour Se Lève (1939), Jules And Jim (1962), Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), Knife In The Water (1962), The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), Loves Of A Blonde (1965), M (1931), M. Hulot's Holiday (1953), Miss Julie (1951), Pandora's Box (1929), Pépé Le Moko (1937), Il Posto (1961), Pygmalion (1938), Rashomon (1950), Richard III (1955), The Rules Of The Game (1939), Seven Samurai (1954), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Spirit Of The Beehive (1973), La Strada (1954), Summertime (1955), The Third Man (1949), The 39 Steps (1935), Ugetsu (1953), Umberto D. (1952), The Virgin Spring (1960), Viridiana (1961), The Wages Of Fear (1953), The White Sheik (1952), Wild Strawberries (1957), Three Documentaries By Saul J. Turell plus the hardcover, full color 240-page book.

Distribution

BFI (UK)

Region 2 - PAL

Criterion (US)
Region 1 - NTSC
Oasis (Korea)
Region 0 - NTSC
Criterion Collection - Spine #138 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:24:09 (4% PAL speedup) 1:28:03 1:27:48 1:28:37.353
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.2 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.37 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.26 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,162,041,874 bytes

Feature: 26,289,174,528 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

BFI (UK)

 

Bitrate:

 

Criterion (US)

 

Bitrate:

 

Oasis (Korea)

 

Bitrate:  Blu-ray

 

Audio Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0

Japanese Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono

Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono

LPCM Audio Japanese 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
DUB: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Subtitles English (burned in) English, none English, Korean, none English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: BFI (UK)

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Akira Kurosawa biography
• Toshiro Mifune biography
• Film poster

DVD Release Date: October 22, 2001

Chapters 12
 

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion (US)

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by Donald Richie
• Excerpts from 'The World of Kazuo Miyagawa' (12:32)
• Introduction by Robert Altman (6:39)
• Trailer (3:19)
• Akira Kurosawa's 'Rashomon': 28 page booklet
• Notes by Stephen Prince
• Akira Kurosawa on Rashomon
• Reprints of the Rashomon source stories, Ryunosuke Akutagawa's 'In a Grove' and 'Rashomon'

 

DVD Release Date: March 26, 2002
Amaray

Chapters 13

Release Information:
Studio: Oasis (Korea)

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by Donald Richie
• Trailer

 

DVD Release Date: September 16, 2004
Keep case

Chapters 13

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion (US)

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,162,041,874 bytes

Feature: 26,289,174,528 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by Japanese-film historian Donald Richie
• Interview with director Robert Altman about Rashomon (6:36)
• Excerpts from The World of Kazuo Miyagawa, a documentary on Rashomon’s cinematographer (12:34)
• A Testimony as an Image, a sixty-eight-minute documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew (1:08:22)
• Archival audio interview with actor Takashi Shimura (16:04)
• Theatrical trailer (3:28)
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film historian Stephen Prince; an excerpt from director Akira Kurosawa’s Something Like an Autobiography; and reprints of Rashomon’s two source stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, “Rashomon” and “In a Grove

 

Blu-ray Release Date: November 6th, 2012
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (October 2012): After the 3 DVDs were created Rashomon was restored in 2008 by The Academy Archive, The National Film Center of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and Kadokawa Pictures Inc. The Criterion Blu-ray uses that restored print and it is a significant improvement over the SD releases often showing much more information on the frame edges. It still has a tendency to look frail but the restoration work has smoothed out some of the inconsistencies. Light damage marks and scratches are less prevalent and the contrast layering is well rendered in 1080P. Frankly, although remaining imperfect, it is quite a step beyond the previous digital presentations thanks to both the higher resolution (dual-layered high bitrate) and the restoration. This double-punch gives confidence that it is the best we are likely to see the film in the comfort of our home theaters.

The audio is offered in a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps in the original Japanese and still has some rough patches but is generally acceptable with the constant rain showcasing some depth. The lossless track has no strong dynamic elements but services the film adequately. Criterion also include a Dolby Digital English DUB - which, in my limited testing, seemed absurd. Criterion include optional English subtitles.

Criterion included the audio commentary by Japanese-film historian Donald Richie from 2002 plus the 12-minute excerpts from The World of Kazuo Miyagawa, a documentary on Rashomon’s cinematographer and the short interview with director Robert Altman about Rashomon. We also get A Testimony as an Image, a sixty-eight-minute documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew as well as a 16-minute archival audio interview with actor Takashi Shimura. There is also a theatrical trailer and the package contains a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film historian Stephen Prince; an excerpt from director Akira Kurosawa’s Something Like an Autobiography; and reprints of Rashomon’s two source stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, “Rashomon” and “In a Grove".

Rashomon is an incredibly perfect film and owning it in the very best edition would seem mandatory. Personally, I am always so impressed with this film from a technical standpoint - more than any of Kurosawa's other works. In re-visitation it is magnificent and we give this Blu-ray disc our highest recommendation!

***

 

ON THE DVD: The Oasis (Korean) production company may have purchased the Criterion extras (or just the Richie commentary) and the Criterion menus or they may have been stolen. I don't know. The Korean disc has possibly, the worst subtitle font and color I can remember seeing. Talk about distracting Kurosawa's framing from your vision. This is the sign of a company that has no artistic integrity and is simply after quick cash. It is also less sharp than the Criterion.

Quite a bit cropped off the left edge of the much clearer Criterion. I still have never been able to understand why this manipulation occurs. Regardless, the Criterion is sharper, solid contrast, removable subtitles and a host of extras that beat out the BFI. The BFI also shows quite a bit of damage in spots. In a perfect world the image would not be reduced and it would be as clear as the Criterion. We are recommending the Criterion.

 -Gary W. Tooze


Recommended Reading for Japanese Film Fans (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

The Japan Journals : 1947-2004,

by  Donald Richie

The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film
by Tom Mes and Jasper Sharp

Kon Ichikawa (Cinematheque Ontario Monographs)

by James Quandt, Cinematheque Ontario

Shohei Imamura (Cinematheque Ontario Monographs, No. 1)
by James Quandt
Eros Plus Massacre: An Introduction to the Japanese New Wave Cinema (Midland Book, Mb 469)
by David Desser
The Films of Akira Kurosawa by Donald Ritchie

Tokyo Story

by Yasujiro Ozu, Kogo Noda, Donald Richie, Eric Klestadt

Ozu by Donald Richie

A Hundred Years of Japanese Film by Donald Richie

Check out more in "The Library"




Menus

(BFI (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Criterion (US) - Region 1 - NTSC - MIDDLE vs. Oasis (Korea) - Region 0 - NTSC - RIGHT)
 

 

Blu-ray

 

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle sample

 

1) BFI (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion (US) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Oasis (Korea) - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


Screen Captures

1) BFI (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion (US) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Oasis (Korea) - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) BFI (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion (US) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Oasis (Korea) - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) BFI (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion (US) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Oasis (Korea) - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) BFI (UK) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion (US) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Oasis (Korea) - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 


Hit Counter


Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Blu-ray

 


Recommended Reading for Kurosawa Fans (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

Check out more in "The Library"


 Box Covers

 

 

Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...

(click titles for DVDBeaver reviews)

Criterion (without any extras) also available in The Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films - a 50-disc celebration of international films collected under the auspices of the groundbreaking theatrical distributor. It contains Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ashes And Diamonds (1958), L'avventura (1960), Ballad Of A Soldier (1959), Beauty And The Beast (1946), Black Orpheus (1959), Brief Encounter (1945), The Fallen Idol (1948), Fires On The Plain (1959), Fists In The Pocket (1965), Floating Weeds (1959), Forbidden Games (1952), The 400 Blows (1959), Grand Illusion (1937), Häxan (1922), Ikiru (1952), The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952), Ivan The Terrible, Part II (1958), Le Jour Se Lève (1939), Jules And Jim (1962), Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), Knife In The Water (1962), The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), Loves Of A Blonde (1965), M (1931), M. Hulot's Holiday (1953), Miss Julie (1951), Pandora's Box (1929), Pépé Le Moko (1937), Il Posto (1961), Pygmalion (1938), Rashomon (1950), Richard III (1955), The Rules Of The Game (1939), Seven Samurai (1954), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Spirit Of The Beehive (1973), La Strada (1954), Summertime (1955), The Third Man (1949), The 39 Steps (1935), Ugetsu (1953), Umberto D. (1952), The Virgin Spring (1960), Viridiana (1961), The Wages Of Fear (1953), The White Sheik (1952), Wild Strawberries (1957), Three Documentaries By Saul J. Turell plus the hardcover, full color 240-page book.

Distribution

BFI (UK)

Region 2 - PAL

Criterion (US)
Region 1 - NTSC
Oasis (Korea)
Region 0 - NTSC
Criterion Collection - Spine #138 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 



 

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Gary Tooze

Many Thanks...