Wednesday, February 08, 2006


I done went had me a mini Kurosawa film festival. I watched his 1950 classic Rashomon, a film I for some reason hadn't seen before. The movie makes ingenious use of flashback sequences (say thank you, Usual Suspects) to tell the story of a man's murder and the rape of his wife from four different perspectives, thus calling into question the nature of objective reality.

Kurosawa sprinkles powerful metaphors throughout his works, especially impactful are the shots of the sun coming through the dense forest canopy as a parallel to the inherently clouded nature of our being. I'll steal a quote from a review that I think captures this point wonderfully:

"I think that Kurosawa is saying that, much like the scenes in the woods, the world is dense with sin and hurt, but sun shines and pokes through the foliage. It is therefore our job to reach for the sun when we can see it, and when we cannot, to take shelter from the rain. That sun, in a world full of contradictions, is the only truth worth embracing."

And so it is. And so is Rashomon.

As is Kurosawa's final film, Madadayo. In this movie a sage professor is met by his adoring students annually on his birthday for a "Maddha Kai" (Are you ready?) party, where over a huge glass of beer (I want to age this way!) he invariably answers with the sing-song "Madadayo!!" (Not yet!), while then summarily downing the beer in one marathon chug. This is a beautiful, lovingly paced meditation about life and the wisdom and serenity of aging and the calm assurance and nobility of death as a part of the continuum of existence. What a way to go out. This rockets into my top 20 favorite movies.

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