Recent Changes

Wednesday, March 11

  1. page Lifeboat-Hitchcock edited ... "Patterned along one of the simplest, most elementary forms of dramatic narration, the ac…
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    "Patterned along one of the simplest, most elementary forms of dramatic narration, the action opens and closes on a lifeboat". (Variety) All of the filming takes place on a boat, with the lighting varying from day to night and some storm scenes added.
    Meaning of “Lifeboat”
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    kill him.
    When they see a ship and realize that it is a German supply ship they are resigned to their fate. Ironically, the ship is attacked by an American ship and sunk. They have another German sailor climb on board and he pulls a gun, they take it but do not attack him. He asks if they are going to kill him and they say no. They are no longer in danger and their behavior mirrors that situation rather than the way they were acting when they killed the German sailor or quietly waited for capture.Alfred_Hitchcock's_The_Birds-Common_ThemThemes
    Common Themes with Other Hitchcock Films
    "Suspense is common in all of Hitchcock’s films. Lifeboat shares that from the beginning. “Despite that it's a slow starter, the picture, from the beginning, leaves a strong impact and, before too long, develops into the type of suspenseful product with which Hitchcock has always been identified.” (http://www.leninimports.com/hitchcock_lifeboat.html)
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    girlfriend, Rosie.
    Scene Analysis 1
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApmOxIMEQJQ&NR=1
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    his leg.
    The passengers question why Willie did not stop rowing and Willie calmly asks why he would. He talks about how Gus was suffering and how this is all for the best. Stanley remembers that Gus was trying to tell him something and then realizes that it was that Willie had water. They see that Willie is sweating, Joe searches him and the flask of water breaks. Willie calmly tells them that he also had food and energy pills. He tells them that they all should be grateful that someone had a plan for their survival. They all turn on him and after beating him with whatever objects they could find, they push him overboard. Ironically, he is hit with Gus’ shoe and that is what finally gets him overboard.
    This scene shows Willie’s true colors. It shows that he really didn’t care about any of them and that he had plotted and lied to them from the beginning. The other passengers have gone from hating him to trusting him and in the end every one of them turned on him. This scene shows the dark side of human nature and what everyone thought of the Nazis. This Steinbeck story illustrates the “devastating indictment of the nature of Nazi bestiality” and this scene is a good example of what the public thought of the Nazis at the time of this movie ‘s release. (http://www.leninimports.com/hitchcock_lifeboat.html) The audience would not have expected anything different. The fact that the Nazi sailor was bad from the beginning did not come as any surprise.
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Saturday, April 23

  1. page Lopez, Gabriel edited ... Ritchie, Donald. The Films of Akira Kurosawa: Third Edition. Los Angeles: University of Califo…
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    Ritchie, Donald. The Films of Akira Kurosawa: Third Edition. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1996
    Hochheiser, Robert M. How to work for a Jerk. New York: Random House , 1987
    Erdoes, Richard, and Alfonso Ortiz. American Indian Myths and Legends. New York: Pantheon, 1984. Print.
    Journals
    Barr, Alan P. “Exquisite comedy and dimensions of heroism: Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Yojimbo‘.” The Massachusetts Review. Vol. 16 No.1 (1975) pp. 158-168
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Friday, April 22

  1. page Lopez, Gabriel edited ... The Story The Story begins with a wandering samurai who helps a band of falsely accused warri…
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    The Story
    The Story begins with a wandering samurai who helps a band of falsely accused warriors prove their innocence. While simultaneously, revealing the true conspirators through the use of cunning manipulation and strategy. The title character, Sanjuro, takes on opposition from both sides in what is arguably the most peaceful civil war in world history. Hopelessly outnumbered, with the help of Sanjuro, the nine idealistic young Samurai and their disreputable drunken master manage to successfully engage the enemy without losing their lives. Because without Sanjuro it would have been a on sided battle. Among the recurring themes that carried over from other Kurosawa films (such as Rashomon, Throne of Blood, Stray Dog, Ran, and Dreams) is that all men are forgivably weak in the face of unknown desires, and that, even in moments of adversity ones greatest enemy is not so much their own ignorance but their own pride (Higham 739-740).
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    because his sistercousin released the
    {sanjuro4.jpg}
    The Character
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  2. page Lopez, Gabriel edited ... The Story The Story begins with a wandering samurai who helps a band of falsely accused warri…
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    The Story
    The Story begins with a wandering samurai who helps a band of falsely accused warriors prove their innocence. While simultaneously, revealing the true conspirators through the use of cunning manipulation and strategy. The title character, Sanjuro, takes on opposition from both sides in what is arguably the most peaceful civil war in world history. Hopelessly outnumbered, with the help of Sanjuro, the nine idealistic young Samurai and their disreputable drunken master manage to successfully engage the enemy without losing their lives. Because without Sanjuro it would have been a on sided battle. Among the recurring themes that carried over from other Kurosawa films (such as Rashomon, Throne of Blood, Stray Dog, Ran, and Dreams) is that all men are forgivably weak in the face of unknown desires, and that, even in moments of adversity ones greatest enemy is not so much their own ignorance but their own pride (Higham 739-740).
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    story where Chidori the sister of one of the main characters,chamberlain's daughter, not the
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    occurred to the sister,Chidori, or the
    {sanjuro4.jpg}
    The Character
    ...
    Scene Analysis
    {sanjuro3.jpg}
    Pending…As the scene begins we see an establishing shot that is matted and framed within the context of a close up of an over the shoulder high angled point of view. In the shot we see Izaka, Chidori, and her mother. Chidori is the central focus of the image, which is matted in black, within the framing of the shot. Her mother’s head is cropped off from her body (within the frame), and blocked from view by Izaka. The chamberlain‘s nephew has come to warn them not to dawdle, unless they want someone from the Kurofuji household to spot them. Izaka is staged outside of the mat framing. The scene then tracks Izaka as he moves from a hunched position in profile facing left into a standing one in order to see if anyone is peering over the fence into the courtyard. The speed with which this action is accomplished is illustrated by the movement of the camera as it follows Izaka. The camera moves up with Izaka as he straightens his spine, pulls his shoulders back and takes in a breath. As this occurs the camera pans right so that the audience would have some idea of what he is looking for. Through the cluster foliage that was later identified as Camilla blossoms, we can see a fortress in the upper left hand side of the frame. The camera movement has not only extended the frame but has changed the texture and depth of liner perspective. Assuming the fortress isn’t an optical illusion the audience can clearly see that the enemy camp is literally within walking distance. Highlighting this fact only emphasized the feeling of apprehension, suspense, and danger of the situation. However, the fortress is also a deceptively small detail that is practically as big as the moon when compared to the surrounding foliage. This may also have several symbolic meanings, since our protagonist hasn’t yet adopted the mantle of Tsubaki/Camilla. There is little possibility the meaning pertains to Sanjuro overtaking the enemy, this meaning can only be ascribed after the protagonist has adopted the name. One possible meaning is that all power is an illusion. In much the same way the moon appears small from a distance and is all but intangible to anything on earth but the naked eye, yet holds sway over the earth‘s ocean. The enemy faced by Sanjuro and the nine young samurai seems at first to be small and deceptively weak. Yet, upon closer inspection, one would realize that the fortress and enemy are respectively far larger than they first appeared.
    The scene then cuts to a close up of Izaka framed between two doors as Sanjuro, an enemy spy, and another young samurai are facing away from Izaka and appear to be staring into a dark closet. The symbolism present in this moment is all too obvious. Izaka and his allies have been framed for a crime they did not commit and are staring into an abyss of darkness. Sanjuro himself is looking into the abyss with his head cocked to one side revealing that he may have a slightly skewed perspective about the enemy they are facing, but he can still see it clearly. The enemy spy is similarly an individual framed for conspiring against the chamberlain while simply following orders. He is looking down into the abyss because his future is uncertain, he is afraid of dying, and the enemy spy is also mourning the loss of his freedom. The remaining figure, Izaka’s friend, is cleaning out the closet. This is a bit of irony that relates to the metonymy of universally ambiguous concepts such as skeletons in the closet, or secrets behind the wall, or closed doors, which has long been a colloquialism for information that one would rather not disclose. Essentially, this represents the revelation of hidden knowledge being uncovered. This is extraordinarily ironic, in the sense that the enemy spy and the knowledge within his possession is about to be sealed within the closet. Because, the closet itself is a symbolic representation of hidden knowledge and the spy and the knowledge in his possession are essentially locked behind closed doors.
    Shortly after the spy is locked within the closet the camera shows Sanjuro tossing the onion that was used to silence the spy into the courtyard. After scanning the area, before turning around into a match on action cut that shows Sanjuro reentering the upper hall. The camera then follows Sanjuro revealing a veil of total darkness behind him. The semiotic importance of this scene would imply that there is more to see in total darkness than can easily be imagined. The onion itself is symbolic of throwing away ones tears of mourning, in as much as, it symbolizes the loss of your ideal world as you enter the unknown. The darkness also emphasizes Sanjuro’s mysterious past as he demands food and alcohol. One of the samurai protests, because he believes this is not the time for libations. The young warrior believes this is the time for strategy, planning, and preparation for the untold changes and suffering that lay ahead. Sanjuro then smiles at the audience, because he knows, it is neither change or the unknown that causes suffering, but rather ones way of thinking. This also reveals an almost zen like philosophy held by Sanjuro. One cannot firmly state whether or not Sanjuro is a fatalist. However, it is clear that Sanjuro is at least aware that regardless of preparation or thought, the future is always in a state of the unknown. One cannot prepare for every eventuality, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and chances are, no one can hide from the apocalypse because all life ends in the same way. As Sanjuro opens another door he tells the bureaucrat in no uncertain terms that he thinks better when he’s drinking. This clearly illustrates that one should take action before using diplomacy, otherwise the rules and regulations will get in the way. On the other hand, these actions could just as easily validate a belief that Sanjuro is not of the world, or the reality, against which he fights(Giles 282). Considering Sanjuro’s solution to eliminating corruption in the film “Yojimbo” was to first take action, before relying on diplomacy and discourse to persuade one side that the other was at fault, this clearly demonstrates a recurring theme. Ironically, Kurosawa’s films speak to the human condition. The people in the first movie, “Yojimbo,” are all so corrupt they refuse to believe that there is anyone on earth who’s loyalty cannot be purchased.
    The bureaucrat then informs Izaka that Kikui plans to pin all of his crimes on his uncle, the Chamberlain. Often, it is the villain of a story that gives a narrative its vitality (Erdoes and Ortiz, 180). What then can be said of Kikui, despite being the main villain of the story he is rarely seen outside of exposition. Even Muroto, the stories antagonist, does not work directly under the leadership of the true conspirators. Sanjuro and the young samurai are fighting an unseen enemy. We can see Sanjuro listening to this conversation intently like an actor outside of the spotlight, but silently waiting on stage. Sanjuro is isolated from the others by the staging of the visual divide, that separates him from the three warriors. This is accomplished through linear perspective and the architectural layout of the room. Sanjuro is positioned to the left of the composition in a medium close up whereas the others are staged behind him to his immediate right in a medium shot. The Bureaucrat then continues to inform Izaka that the conspiritors intend to force the chamberlain to sign a confession before being interrupted by the chamberlains wife as she enters the room with her daughter. The men immediately fall silent as the lady speaks. The camera cuts to an over the shoulder close up of Sanjuro’s head as the lady enters Izaka’s living room from the courtyard. Since the shot is staged using both layers and perspective, the chamberlains wife moves from the right portion of the screen before her view is obscured by the bulk Sanjuro’s head. Chidori, the chamberlains daughter, enters shortly after her mother leaves the visual field of the camera before the camera cuts to reveal the chamberlain’s wife asking the three young samurai to be honest with her about her husband‘s situation. The three men bow and wait for the lady to be seated before sitting back up. Sanjuro does not bow before the lady, yet still sits with her as a show of respect and support. This can be taken several ways, one, Sanjuro either doesn’t know social protocal, or two, Sanjuro will not bow, showing legitimate respect for her and addressing that he sees her as an equal. Again, there other ways this scene can be interpreted. For example, to the western eyes it appears that Sanjuro is willing to show her respect, but is not willing to accept her as his leader.
    Ultimately, this scene ends with Sanjuro revealing his name, one that he fabricated after looking at a Camilla tree. This pique’s the interest of the chamberlains wife. And, the scene ends rather unremarkably. One has questions about the moment of darkness, wherein, Sanjuro literally and figuratively enters before revealing his name. Is it possible that he has no memory of his previous life, or does the darkness symbolize memories of a hidden past? These questions go unanswered, and in the grand scheme of things they don’t really matter as Kurosawa leaves that interpretation to the audience.

    Summary
    Overall, “Sanjuro” is a memorable film and a worthy successor to “Yojimbo.” Part of what makes it memorable are the rounded characters. Even minor characters such as the enemy spy hiding in the closet, or Murato’s generals seem genuinely human. However, it is Toshiro Mifune in the role of the title character that steals the show. As Sanjuro, Mifune has created a believable character that is neither contrived nor conventional. Sanjuro is at once a man of contradictions, possessing seemingly supernatural abilities while simultaneously suffering from human weakness. Ironically, in the grand scheme of things, Sanjuro’s weaknesses are also his greatest strengths. Sanjuro isn’t afraid of failure as he wallows in it, because he knows there’s more to life than what can easily be imagined. After all, in a room full of horse pucky there’s bound to be a pony in there somewhere.
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  3. page Eagar, Timothy edited ... The overarching theme of Rashomon, as most critics see it, is that it’s impossible to glean th…
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    The overarching theme of Rashomon, as most critics see it, is that it’s impossible to glean the truth when human arrogance comes into the equation. The truth of the events that occurred on the road on that fateful day are never revealed, even the final testimony, the one given by the supposedly unbiased woodcutter, is all but proven to be untrue or even the closest version of the events. All of the stories told by the characters are colored by how they want to be perceived, rather than an accurate account of events. Tajomaru wanted people to believe that he was a fearless, daring swordsman. The samurai wanted to be seen as noble, taking is own life in shame. The woman wished to be seen as vulnerable and emotional, unable to be blamed for her part in the events of the story. Finally, the woodcutter wanted to be seen as fair and impartial, not embellishing his story but leaving out key details that would implicate him.
    Overall, it’s unsurprising that Rashomon had entered the public consciousness the way it had. It’s consistently rated one of the best films of all time, even by those who do not care for it personally. Kurosawa’s genius and understanding of the language of film are highly visible in Rashomon, and it will likely endure for many years to come as his legacy.
    Works Cited
    Barbarow, George. "Rashomon and the Fifth Witness." The Hudson Review 5.3 (1952): 420-22. Print.
    Davidson, James F. "Memory of Defeat in Japan: A Reappraisal of "Rashomon"" The Antioch Review 14.4 (1954): 492-501. Print.
    Higham, Charles. "Kurosawa's Humanism." The Kenyon Review (1965): 737-42. Print.
    Rhoades, John D. "The "Rashomon Effect" Reconsidered." American Anthropologist 91.1 (1989): 171. Print.

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  4. page Eagar, Timothy edited Marge: Come on, Homer. Japan will be fun! You liked Rashomon. Homer: That's not how I remember it…
    Marge: Come on, Homer. Japan will be fun! You liked Rashomon.
    Homer: That's not how I remember it!
    —The Simpsons, "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo"
    {rashomon_sp2.jpg}
    One mark of a truly great and memorable film is the impact upon the culture that has consumed it; many great lines from famous films have become well-known clichés even to those unfamiliar with their origins. Sometimes, however, a film can transcend providing pop culture with one or two snappy witticisms (whether they be as memorable as “the stuff dreams are made of”, or as transient and tiresome as “I’ve got a bag of ‘shh’ with your name on it”); a truly great film becomes a cultural force in itself, and few would argue that Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon has failed to become one, whether in the western world or in its home country. Solely because of the film’s enduring relevance and quality, one simply has to use the word “Rashomon” to instantly conjure up the problem of the film’s plot – that a completely true account of an event can almost never be gleaned because of mankind’s imperfect nature.
    The film’s plot is a famous one – a samurai and his wife are attacked by the infamous bandit Tajomaru, resulting in the samurai’s death. After Tajomaru is captured, all present at the incident are separately called upon to give their own account of the events of the incident – leading to several wildly varying stories as to what exactly had happened. The framing device is that of a priest, a woodcutter, and a commoner discussing the incident outside the titular gates. Even with a testimony gained from the dead victim of the incident, gleaned through the use of a medium, and with a testimony from the woodcutter, supposedly unbiased due to his lack of involvement in the events, the truth of the incident is never explained, and indeed cannot be explained, due to the folly and dishonesty that is core to human nature.
    {rashomon-intro-01.jpg} Rashomon didn’t spring fully-formed from Akira Kurosawa’s head, however – it is actually an adaptation of two different stories by author Ryunosuke Akutagawa. The story from which it derives its memorable premise of an account of a crime as given by several conflicting viewpoints is actually taken from a differently titled story, “Yobu no Naka” (which translates to “In a Grove”). All of the film’s characters are from this story, including Tajomaru, the infamous bandit and only named character in the film. The events of the film follow this story fairly closely. The story from which the film gains its title, “Rashomon”, is actually a mostly unrelated tale, from which the film derives its grim setting. The gate Rashomon is a dilapidated ruin, a mere shadow of the place it had used to be, often a hideout of bandits and a dumping ground for corpses. The gloomy atmosphere surrounding the gate and the unrelenting rain serve neatly to highlight the story’s overall bleak tone.
    James F. Davidson argues that this was a conscious decision on Kurosawa’s part, switching the setting of the “In a Grove” story to a more bleak, hopeless setting, in order to have it coincide with attitudes of pessimism in Japan at the time, as it had just come off a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Allied forces in World War II:
    “Why was an atmosphere of gloom and decay, of physical and spiritual misery, chosen as a background in the film? The original story of the crime contains no such atmosphere, no linking of the event to the conditions of the times. Its effect is all the more striking because of this. … the picture opens on the ruined Rashomon: once the great architectural symbol of the capital of Japan, now the crumbling reflection of a devastated city whence the sear of power has moved.”
    The film simply would not have had the same sort of impact had it not adopted the ruined gates of Rashomon as its setting, especially upon the Japanese audiences of the time, which would have had little trouble equating the once-grand ruin with their own culture and society following their defeat in the war.
    {rashomon0.jpg}
    Perhaps something that is most noticeable about Rashomon, or perhaps immediately noticeable in any Kurosawa film, is the photographic elegance of his shots. Kurosawa communicates his views with stunning, almost painterly images, composed with the utmost care and deliberation. It is something that I like to say about Kurosawa films in general that one could pause the film at any given point and immediately receive a work of art worthy of printing and hanging in one’s home. Akira Kurosawa is undoubtedly as fluent in the language of film as he would have been in any written or spoken language, and understood that there were ways of communicating that could only be accomplished that way – he would famously refuse to talk about his work, on the grounds that if he had been able to express the meaning of his films in words, he would not have created them.
    Perhaps one of the most incredible things that Kurosawa does with Rashomon is tie in each character’s story with a distinctive style of cinematography. If we take to the notion that filmmaking is itself a language, we can consider the different points of views of the different characters as each being in their own unique “voice”, as told through the language of film. While using a spoken language, people speak differently – they use different inflections, take to using different turns of phrase or different words, and use or misuse words, each developing their own distinctive vocabulary. Kurosawa takes this idea of each individual’s voice and applies it to the idea of film as a language – Tajomaru’s account of the events are overblown and dramatic, the fast cuts and tense music matching perfectly with his own nervous, twitchy disposition and frantic arrogance. The woodcutter, however, is unassuming and relatively humble and shy, and his accounts of the events are similarly realistic, accompanied by no music or dramatic editing, using long, distant shots to show his detachment from events and his lack of dramatic flourish in his narrative.
    This use of cinematic language is used as gracefully and seriously as Rashomon’s only very uncommonly; the idea of different characters’ points of view having different cinematic styles is usually used in an exaggerated fashion in relatively “low-brow” entertainment such as cartoons, where an immature character’s take on events might be accompanied by crude crayon drawings, or a serious and dramatic character’s view may be rendered in an overblown parody of film noir. Kurosawa’s use of the film medium, however, is extremely subtle – only a careful viewing of the film reveals this usage of cinematic “voice”, and yet the impact of this use is not lost on those who watch the film with an untrained eye. It is a simple, elegant device for telling the story, and Kurosawa employs it in a way that has been unmatched since.
    The amount of subtlety on the part of the actors is also only apparent in retrospect – there are only a few characters in the film, but almost every one of those characters (excepting the woodcutter, commoner, and priest) must portray themselves as told through the lens of one of the other characters’ telling of the incident, and even deliver a different performance for each one. Toshiro Mifune, who plays Tajomaru, the infamous bandit, must also play Tajomaru as viewed from the perspective of all the other characters. He is Tajomaru as h {rashomon1.jpg} e sees himself, the undefeatable, untamed warrior; there is also Tajomaru as viewed by the samurai, a cruel but worthy foe, and the Tajomaru that the woman sees, the menacing and powerful yet somehow sensual, and lastly, Tajomaru as the woodcutter sees him, the frantic and cowardly thief. Every one of these characters has the work required of them multiplied fivefold, as they must not only play themselves as they actually are, but must also play themselves as they are seen by three other characters, as well as how they see themselves.
    The overarching theme of Rashomon, as most critics see it, is that it’s impossible to glean the truth when human arrogance comes into the equation. The truth of the events that occurred on the road on that fateful day are never revealed, even the final testimony, the one given by the supposedly unbiased woodcutter, is all but proven to be untrue or even the closest version of the events. All of the stories told by the characters are colored by how they want to be perceived, rather than an accurate account of events. Tajomaru wanted people to believe that he was a fearless, daring swordsman. The samurai wanted to be seen as noble, taking is own life in shame. The woman wished to be seen as vulnerable and emotional, unable to be blamed for her part in the events of the story. Finally, the woodcutter wanted to be seen as fair and impartial, not embellishing his story but leaving out key details that would implicate him.
    Overall, it’s unsurprising that Rashomon had entered the public consciousness the way it had. It’s consistently rated one of the best films of all time, even by those who do not care for it personally. Kurosawa’s genius and understanding of the language of film are highly visible in Rashomon, and it will likely endure for many years to come as his legacy.

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