Friday, March 20, 2009

"Rashomon" for the YouTube Generation

by Chris MaGee

During the week I was poking around on YouTube for any trailer for the upcoming Shun Oguri film "Tajomaru". Shot recently in Fukuyama City, Hiroshima by "Samurai Fiction" director Hiroyuki Nakano it's being sold as a "romantic fantasy" retelling (?!?!) of Ryunosuke Akutagawa classic story "In a Grove", one of two Akutagawa stories that inspired Akira Kurosawa's groundbreaking 1950 film starring Toshiro Mifune, Masayuki Mori, and Machiko Kyo. (Read our original report here.) Well, I didn't track down any trailer, but as these things often work out I found a huge amount of trailers for amateur stage and screen productions based either on Akutagawa's original story or Kurosawa's film. Like the title of this article says, it looks like "Rashomon" has hit the YouTube generation.

Here's the first of the trailers that was put together by a group of students at the University of Sheffield Film Making Society last year. It's obviously not a direct adaptation of Akutagawa's story with its contemporary setting and language, but it does seem to retain core ideas of the subjectivity of truth... and they manage to squeeze in Radiohead at the same time.

As much as I hate to criticize people's hard work, no matter how much it may offend my tastes I do have to say right out that this trailer for a "new age" stage production of "Rashomon" by the the Sitanchi Theatre Company in Sydney, Australia is kid of nutty. I was spooked out by Machiko Kyo's performance in Kurosawa's film, but this actress playing the defiled noblewoman is spooky in the kid-who's-afraid-of-clowns way. Strange.

This one isn't great, but there's something inspiring about a 20-year-old amateur filmmaker from the Philippines getting his friends together to shoot "Rashomon" in what looks like his backyard. No "Star Wars" fan films for this kid it seems! The use of that B-movie horror font and the screaming sound effects might be taking things a bit far. Okay, way too far.

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