There isn’t much else I can say other than this movie has messed with my head. I wasn’t really too interested in it for the first 20 minutes or so, then I started to realize what the plot was about and began enjoying it more and more with each version of the story that was told. This was like Life of Pi but with even more versions of the story. Normally I don’t like being lied to or tricked in a movie cause usually it’s done in a cheap way to throw some twist in because the writers got lazy. In this case, the trick/twist/lie was that the guy with the axe that found the body didn’t tell the story as it really happened. I pretty much assumed that it happened how I saw it on screen, only later did I realize that the whole movie was about as accurate as a friend telling you a story about something amazing they did 20 years ago or a 5 year old telling you how your new 60″ TV screen was cracked. People have a tendency to lie to cover their asses or make themselves seem better than they are. This movie really played with that and by the end had me scratching my head. Maybe one version was right, maybe none of them were right. I feel like the woman’s story was more accurate because she admitted to killing someone which I don’t think a lot of people would do in court… especially if everyone else was saying how she didn’t do it. Although, if everyone is saying it wasn’t her then maybe her saying it really was her is a lie and she really didn’t do it. Or maybe the movie was saying that men lie and women tell the truth, but that they’re cold blooded killers. Quite the puzzler and is worthy of a repeat viewing down the line.
Now, if I may, as is tradition I will go into the things that I somewhat disliked. The laughing was incredibly over the top and actually pretty annoying near the end. I suppose in everyone’s version of the story they may have embellished things a little to make Tajomaru seem more insane and evil, but that doesn’t really explain why he laughed like a madman at the court. Perhaps he is just a madman after all, it doesn’t make the laugh any less annoying though. I was also not too impressed with the court scenes. I guess this movie was 12 years older than Harakiri, but I loved the talking scenes in that movie so much more. In this one it was very one sided… almost as if we were the judge… woah. You know what, that was actually kind of awesome. And the “judge” never asked the questions, it was always the one telling the story that sort of repeated the question and then answered it. It was like we were in the movie the entire time! Ok I guess I can’t say anything bad about that, but this next part I really didn’t like, I promise. The scenes like when the guy with the axe was walking through the woods reminded me a lot of a silent movie. Exaggerated movements, no speech and constant music. I will admit here that I am not a fan of silent movies. I’ve seen 3 or 4 of them and it just didn’t do it for me. A lot of the comedic elements in this movie didn’t really do it for me either. Maybe you had to live in Japan in the 40s to truly get that kind of humor, but I didn’t and it pulled me out of the movie whenever it happened.
It took quite a bit of pondering to write this post and as a result of that and of my mid-sentence realization I have decided to give a better verdict to this film. For a 1950 movie, I think the story was excellent and the camera work was just as fantastic. I can see why this movie is on so many top lists now. It wasn’t my favorite old Japanese movie, but it definitely makes me more interested to watch the others I have on my list.
Verdict: 8/10 AHAHAHAHAHA