Japanese Film ALL 3456
01 October 2009
This movie, by far, is the one I have enjoyed the most out of the four we have viewed so far. Though I know that the previous silent films have their own merit that make them classics, I find it hard to get into the films without any dialogue spoken or heard from the actors themselves. I am a firm believer that a movie is not only defined by the techniques of the director but the actors and their own take on the characters they are playing.
Another aspect of the film that I enjoy immensely is the execution of the story. I like the fact that the movie was told in narration using flashbacks. With the narration and the three different testimonies (the bandit, the wife, and the husband), the audience is able to see the human nature of distorting the truth (and sometimes outright lying) to keep up with the image they have in society. In the case of the bandit, who has the image of a "womanizer", he tells the court that the wife gave herself to him while the testimonies of both the wife and the husband says she was raped. For the wife, she claims that after she was raped, the bandit leaves and she then frees her husband. In his eyes she does not see anger nor sorrow, but loathing which results in her asking him to kill her. She "blacks out" before she actually does kill him. When she awakens, it is the dagger that kills her husband, not a sword, coinciding with her husband's story, but not the bandit (who claims that he killed the husband with a sword). The narrator himself reveals in the end that he lies about his testimony towards the end of the film. His reasoning is that he "doesn't want to get involved" and wrapped up in the conflict, but later on, the commoner correctly deducts that the woodcutter is the one who stole the dagger and, therefore, he lied to the court (and society) to protect himself.
The message so for is that humans are self-serving and only thinks about what the best decision or outcome is for them, completely disregarding morals such as honesty. Yet, in the end, Kurosawa gleams a light on humankind when the woodcutter takes in an abandoned baby as an adopted son, telling the priest one more child in a household of already six would not be too different than what it already was. This act alone implies that though mankind can destroy each other, it is mankind that will also save us.