Reflection on Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon movie cinematography

Posted: June 7th, 2024

Reflection On Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon Movie Cinematography

In the film Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa, the direction, Miyagawa Kazuo and the production aspects play an important role contributing to the exact mis en scene which defines the performances taken up by the actors. The settings, Rashōmon gate, the woods, and the courtyard, are deliberately intended to be relatively basic by Kurosawa (Cardullo, 2019). This ensures that the environment is focused, on what is happening, with regards to the characters and what happens. The deliberate elimination of the stated serves two reasons; both artistic and budget-wise, to let Kurosawa’s appreciation of the visual narrative celebrate the art of cinema. The casting process that saw actors and staff living in the same location in which the film was made encouraged a tight space where one formed long-lasting relationships and constant collaboration was the order of the day (Redfern, 2013). Bringing the nature of filmmaking that he shows reflected his belief that it was not escapism, but immersive to the point whereby the performances of the actors were necessarily affected. Kurosawa spent every minute of day and night directing ‘ Rashomon’ to show that filmmaking was in essence a staff.

Significantly cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa heavily influenced the image creative in the film. Interestingly, Miyagawa reveals his skill and eagerness to collaborate by using contrasting shots and sequences, and unwinding repetition of close-ups to highlight human triangles. The choice of shooting straight into the sun instead of around it with the help of a mirror, as typical of the natural light limitations; indicates an intent on reaching difficult visuals that enhance the story (Hieu, 2022). In the context of apparent fractures in modes of representation, “Rashomon ” becomes an example where the medium of lighting itself becomes a powerful tool in an increasingly complex mode of interconnections, with the efforts of Robert Altman praised Kurosawa’s embracing use of ‘dappled’ light for further ambiguities (Cardullo, 2019). Different ways in which critics interpret sunlight, depicting good or evil, show the profound aspect of lighting on the audience’s perception of the character’s morality.

Through editing, which as a rule Kurosawa worked out himself, and where he often used more cameras and a high number of shots, the narrative can be made more dynamic. The 407 shots successfully well seamlessly integrated into the film are eliminated from your eye with the undisturbed mastery evidencing Kurosawa behind the editor’s table in the construction of a smooth dynamic that intensifies the drama of devastation, aston filling the screen (Hieu, 2022). A music score by Fumio Hayasaka, particularly the use of a bolero in the woman’s story, in conjunction with the scene’s affective content, intensifies the emotional atmosphere in the film. Their pursuit of perfection is evident in the occasion that Kurosawa calls one of his crew members, Toshiro Mifune, to do more recording of the film to ensure that perfect the sound of the film replicates the grandeur that is seen in the visuality of the film. The melting pot of precise cinematography, purposeful mise en scene shots, and collaborated effort in Rashomon accentuates the power that directors and cinematographers have in manipulating the performances of actors and thus leads to the enriched narrative spun in the film.




Cardullo, R. J. (2019). Kurosawa’s Rashomon, re-viewed. Asian Cinema, 30(1).

Hieu, L. Q. (2022). East–West rewriting and recontextualization: Approaching Rashōmon (Akira Kurosawa) and its afterlives from adaptation theory. Asian Cinema, 33(1).

Redfern, N. (2013). Film style and narration in rashomon. Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, 5(1–2).

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