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Restored ‘Rashomon’ screened at the Tokyo film festival in 4K
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Restored ‘Rashomon’ screened at the Tokyo film festival in 4K

Agency News

Tokyo, Nov 1 : Nearly seven decades after it was first shown in Japan, Akira Kurosawa's internationally acclaimed movie, 'Rashomon', has been screened at the 32nd Tokyo International Film Festival in a new digitally restored version in 4K resolution.

'Rashomon', which was released in Japan in 1950 and won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival a year later, was part of the Japanese Classics programme of the Tokyo festival, being held from October 28 to November 5.

The Kurosawa masterpiece was screened to a packed international audience at the Roppongi Hills venue of the festival on Thursday.

The Japanese Classics programme has three movies, including 'Rashomon', to pay tributes to legendary Japanese actor Machiko Kyo, who passed away in May this year. Machiko Kiyo plays the role of the wife of the samurai in 'Rashomon'.

The screening of 'Rashomon' in a digitally restored version in 4K resolution, was a highlight of the Tokyo film festival this year. The restoration of the much-loved classic was preceded by a close collaboration between film institutions and companies in Japan and the United States.

Among the institutions involved in the restoration were the Kadokawa Corporation, a major Japanese film distributor which hold the rights of 'Rashomon', National Film Centre in Tokyo, and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in the United States. The restoration efforts go back to 2002 when the Kadokawa Corporation acquired the Daiei Film Company, a major Japanese film studio. In the acquisition process, the Kadokawa Corporation absorbed the rights of all films produced by Daiei, the studio behind the works of such important Japanese filmmakers as Kurosawa.

"Our company immediately checked into the situation of the old films, whether they had deteriorated," says Masakazu Itsukage, a senior manager at the Kadokawa Corporation in Tokyo. "There were about 1,600 prints and we began the project to clean and digitise them," he adds.

A project to restore 'Rashomon' was proposed to the Kadokawa Corporation by American director Martin Scorsese's The Film Foundation, which pursues preservation of cinematic heritage across the world, and Japan's National Film Centre of Japan, which later became the National Film Archive of Japan. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences soon joined in the efforts. Among the other institutions involved in the restoration were the National Film Centre of Japan, which was then part of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, before it became the National Film Archive of Japan last year.

"The original negative of Rashomon had been lost," says Itsukage. "The master positives of the movie were intact. And the National Film Centre had the print made from the original negative," he adds. Cuts of the film from its original negative were found at Kurosawa's cinematographer, Kazuo Miyagawa's home in Tokyo. "We referred to those materials for restoration," explains Itsukage.

The restoration work in two laboratories in the United States took six months. The restored 'Rashomon' was premiered in September 2008 at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles. The premiere was followed by a special screening of the film at the Tokyo International Film Festival in the same year. (UNI)