The title of 1950's Rashomon is invoked whenever a filmmaker depicts the same event from multiple, often contradictory points of view. But despite having contributed a term to the cinematic lexicon, the movie itself is far from an academic exercise. Many of director Akira Kurosawa's pictures boast epic running times: Seven Samurai, made four years later, fills screens for just shy of three and a half hours. In contrast, Rashomon clocks in at an ultra-tight 88 minutes, and while the images look gorgeous thanks to the artistry of cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa, the sets are as simple as the transitions are easy to follow. Equally important, the portrayals are ripe and robust – particularly the one turned in by Toshiro Mifune. Although he'd already acted in four previous Kurosawa films, his performance as a blustery bandit suspected of rape and murder transformed him into an international star, and, more than half a century later, it's obvious why. Mifune's so electric that he constitutes his own special effect, helping to transform Rashomon into a classic that inspires active engagement, not dry analysis.
Rashomon screens at Starz FilmCenter in the Tivoli at 5:15 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. on Friday, September 18; tickets are $6 to $9.50. Learn about future showtimes and more at 303-595-3456 or www.denverfilm.org.