Essential cinema. The complexities of human nature and the molding of the truth to present the best version of oneself has never been so well exposed. Four very different tales of one event are revealed exposing everything but the truth. Casting is impeccable and Kurosawa's direction, visual style and art of storytelling is masterly.
If the Bechdel test is a meagre standard, this sort of context makes it seem almost extreme. Self-righteous outrage at the subjectivity of 'truth' seems contrived, at best, against a backdrop of blatantly unquestioned socially-manufactured beliefs (e.g. re women), in which context it's hard to buy into any pretense of moral superiority. Otherwise, cinematically innovative, with a compelling visual simplicity.
Brilliant almost all around except that the concept doesn't have the punch that it theoretically should. This should be an unflinching look into man's narcissism but instead the end result is soften by the way everything ties itself up. In the end, we leave hopeful but not satisfied as some of Kurosawa's bad habits of explaining too much take away what ever conclusion we ourselves might have clenched from it.
The cinematographer and director experiment to achieve marvelous results. The story itself is what makes the film worth. Relating one incident from different points of view, it is a completely new experience. Subjective by design, the viewer learns that everything on screen is not necessarily the truth. The end is interesting since it seeks a validation for humanity and that can lack some cohesiveness.
****1/2 . There are a lot of great moments in this film. Personally, I was very impressed by the story of the dead man told by a witch. Reality is not what you see or hear, reality is what you feel inside; a thought often found in the writings of European philosophers of the XIXth century. A film to cherish like a book and to keep in one's library. Indispensable.
A thoughtful and visually poetic exploration of some of mans' foibles not least the impossibility of a fidelity of memory, truth and lies. Kurosawa directs with clarity if over-emphasis in places (notably the elongated fights and restoration of a hope at the conclusion). Hayasaka's Ravelian score and Miyagawa's dappled cinematography soften the edges of so-called reality. A film with long tallons.