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Felt to me a commentary on the human soul, the way people react in violent situations and the way those choices can be rationalized so easily. The film is beautifully shot and edited well, all the Kurosawa regulars do a fine job. It was interesting that a simple crime film had so much to say. Reminded me of Dostoevsky or Poe, with fear and greed as the catalyst.
This movie is well ahead of its time. One of the best the world cinema has to offer.
E.g. In the initial sequence we see the sun rays playing hide above the forest where 'we' look at the sun through trees. You may have seen similar shot in numerous movies. But do you know it is the first time in the history of cinema camera is every looking at sun this way?
Satyajit Ray - "The effect of the film on me, personally, was electric. I saw it three times on consecutive days and wondered each time if there was another film anywhere which gave such sustained and dazzling proof of a director’s command over every aspect of film making. Even after fifteen years, whole chunks of the film come vividly back to mind in all their visual and aural richness: the woodcutter’s journey through the forest, shot with a relentless tracking camera from an incredible variety of angles—high, low, back and front—and cut with axe-edge precision; the bandit’s first sight of the woman as she rides by, her veil lifted momentarily by a breeze, while he lolls in the shade of a tree, slapping away at mosquitoes; the striking formality of the court scene with the judge never seen at all; the scene of witchcraft with the medium whirling in a trance, and the wind blowing from two opposite directions at the same time… No, there was no doubt the Japanese cinema was something to reckon with, and a good probe into its past achievements was called for."
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In 33 official lists
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This movie ranks #1 in Patrick Galloway's guide to samurai films
This movie ranks #2 in Spike Lee's Essential Film List
This movie ranks #3 in Venice Film Festival - Golden Lion
This movie ranks #5 in Academy Award Best Foreign Pictures
This movie ranks #5 in Academy Award Best Foreign Language Film Nominees
This movie ranks #7 in Kinema Junpo Top Japanese Films
This movie ranks #15 in Stanley Kubrick, Cinephile
This movie ranks #17 in 1950s
This movie ranks #20 in Mystery
This movie ranks #20 in They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?
This movie ranks #23 in Sight and Sound 2012 - Combined List
This movie ranks #26 in The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema
This movie ranks #27 in Taschen 100 All-time favorite movies
This movie ranks #30 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #31 in Crime
This movie ranks #58 in 100 Must-See Films Of The 20th Century
This movie ranks #66 in Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films
This movie ranks #78 in Best Of Rotten Tomatoes
This movie ranks #94 in Asian Cinema: A Field Guide
This movie ranks #111 in Top 250
This movie ranks #116 in Harvard University's Suggested Film Viewing List: Narrative Films (2012)
This movie ranks #117 in Reddit top 250
This movie ranks #141 in The Criterion Collection
This movie ranks #158 in Roger Ebert: the great movies
This movie ranks #178 in FOK! top 250
This movie ranks #213 in The British Film Institute: 360 Classics
This movie ranks #223 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #290 in Empire 500
This movie ranks #414 in Have You Seen? A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films
This movie ranks #445 in Amos Vogel's Film as a Subversive Art
This movie ranks #708 in The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made
This movie ranks #737 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #758 in TimeOut's 1000 Films to Change Your Life