Another punch for punch American adaptation of a Kurosawa movie. It takes the subtle musings about truth in Rashomon and instead works the word ‘truth’ into as many lines as possible to jam the concept down our throat. Most of the writing is pretty weak. Although, Shatner’s last line is pretty great. (That’s right, William Shatner is in this movie!)
The majority of the great moments lost their effect on me because they were just lifted directly out of Rashomon.
So far, Leone is the only guy who could adapt Kurosawa in a way that felt like art in its own right, as opposed to art translated to the big, dumb masses. Adaptation can still be a wonderful artistic medium, even Kurosawa was adapting novels much of the time. The problem is when all you are doing is refilming each scene in a different language with different actors, stealing shots and themes, while never offering anything new, offering nothing of yourself. That is what most filmmakers seemed to be doing when they adapted Kurosawa for America.
Also, Paul Newman was the worst Mexican ever. I love the man, but he should have never, ever played a Mexican. Plus, the decision to make the bandit a Mexican really can’t be seen as anything but racist. If people suspected an innocent man as guilty because he was Mexican, then you would have something, but simply making the infamous, treacherous bandit Mexican is lazy and racist.
Oh yeah, one more thing, that poster at the top of the post, with the line ‘was it an act of violence or an act of love?’… yeah, that wasn’t even kind of a question asked in the movie. Throughout the course of Hollywood history, I often wonder if those who create ads for films have ever seen the film in question.