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My favourite Kurosawa film, and quite possibly my favourite Asian film of all-time, this masterful morality play changed the language of cinema forever. Its revelation that narrators, performances, even the film itself can lie to its audience, undermines the medium itself, while simultaneously becoming a seminal example of how it can best be employed. Beyond these achievements, the film is also a bold tale of humanity’s desperate nature, our willingness to do anything to survive, yet the commitment to seek out good in the world regardless of the evil that permeates through it. Toshiro Mifune gives a scene-stealing turn as the hysterical bandit at the centre of a murder trial, while Takashi Shimura is quietly brilliant as the woodcutter who recounts the grisly tale. A film that reaps new rewards every time I watch it, looks fabulous thanks to Kurosawa’s assured direction and staging – the shadows, the rain, the forest all play their part in the drama – while Kazuo Miyagawa’s cinematography seals the deal – and looks especially radiant thanks to Criterion’s recent Blu-ray upgrade.

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