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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.
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."
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?
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Currently in 32 official lists, but has been in 38