DVD review: Kurosawa classic 'Rashomon' brushed up for Blu-ray
Masayuki Mori as "The man" and Toshiro Mifune as "The bandit" in "Rashomon." (Courtesy of the Criterion Collection / November 9, 2012)
It's story is brief and simple: nine or 10 centuries ago, a thief (Mifune) waylays a samurai (Masayuki Mori) and his wife (Machiko Kyo), ties up the man, has sex with the wife, and is arrested; the samurai is killed. But the way this straightforward tale is conveyed to us is anything but simple. We get the story in bits and pieces at the thief's trial; everyone involved testifies; and all have their own versions of what happened.
Criterion released a very good DVD of “Rashomon” about 10 years ago; the new Blu-ray and DVD are both steps up, thanks to restoration work done since then. The Blu-ray is, not surprisingly, much sharper and more detailed. The sound is OK and will probably never be better than OK. All the extras from 2002 are repeated: a terrific audio commentary by Japanese-film historian Donald Richie; 12 minutes of excerpts from “The World of Kazuo Miyagawa,” a documentary on “Rashomon's” cinematographer; and a six-minute introduction/interview with Robert Altman. The grand jewel of the newly added material is a detailed 68-minute documentary about the film's making and reception.
"Rashomon" (Criterion, Blu-ray, $39.95; DVD, $29.95)
ANDY KLEIN is the film critic for Marquee. He can also be heard on “FilmWeek” on KPCC-FM (89.3).