Three disparate travelers, a disillusioned preacher, an unsuccessful prospector, and a larcenous, cynical con man, meet at a decrepit railroad station in the 1870s Southwest. The prospector and the preacher were witnesses at the singularly memorable rape and murder trial of the notorious Mexican outlaw Carasco. The bandit duped an aristocratic Southerner into believing he knew the location of a lost Aztec treasure. The greedy "gentleman" allows himself to be tied up while Carasco deflowers his wife. These events lead to the stabbing of the husband and are related by the three eyewitnesses to the atrocity: the infamous bandit, the newlywed wife, and the dead man through an Indian shaman. Whose version of the events is true? Possibly there was a fourth witness, but can his version be trusted? Written by
[laughing after hearing a description of the corpse]
Ah, hah-hah! I know, I know. You know, they all look so surprised... them cadavers.
I bet death must be a lot different than anybody thinks.
See more »
"The Outrage" is a re-make of the Akira Kurosawa classic "Rashomon." It's a very faithful adaptation but does not improve upon the original. It would have been better served not to have been as faithful as it was. The cinematography of "Rashomon," for instance, is groundbreaking and an all-time great. Martin Ritt's remake is slicker and more modern but not better. "Outrage" is set in the old west, where the original was set in feudal Japan. Four years before "Outrage," director John Sturges remade Kurosawa's `Seven Samurai' into "The Magnificent Seven." Both are classics. Ritt's stab at Kurosawa (a slightly older film) has been swept up into the sands of film history and is little-remembered. This despite an all-star cast that includes Edward G. Robinson, Laurence Harvey, William Shatner, and Paul Newman as (agh!) a Mexican outlaw.
The source material for "Magnificent Seven" is a story and a script written for film. The source material for "Outrage" technically is a short story written in the early 20th century by Ryunosuke Akutagawa called "In A Grove," from which "Rashomon" was also adapted. Oddly, `Rashomon' is another story altogether, by the same author. The Rashomon Gate is the largest entrance to the walled, then-capital of Japan, Kyoto. Having chosen this the setting for the telling of the film's story, as the three souls take refuge from a storm under this giant gate, Kurosawa re-named the film after it. Instead of going back to the original source, Ritt remakes Kurosawa's film. In doing so, Ritt walks into a trap many filmmakers do when trying to faithfully remake a much-loved piece of work. To remake a film seems to convey that the original lacked something or was somehow flawed. "Rashomon" clearly did not need to be re-made. But once the decision was made to make another version, whether Ritt used the film or the Akutagawa story as his source, it's a no-win situation. Even if he'd based it on the original story, he would have spent his time and energy trying NOT to make another version of "Rashomon."
There are humorous moments in both films. More times than not, I could not tell the difference between what was funny intentionally or unintentionally in "Outrage." One possible improvement that is made by the remake is that the fourth and final re-telling of the trial by the thief, distinguishes itself much more from the first telling, by the bandit. It comes off more comically, which I believe was intended in Kurosawa's version, but doesn't quite come across. The sequence, taken by itself, is the high point of "Outrage."
All things considered, "The Outrage" is an exercise in futility. It's a curiosity for those wondering how yet another Kurosawa film could be overhauled and made into a western. I'd guess the idea was to bring the same story to America, with a more familiar setting, in English. Maybe someday directors will quit wasting their time trying to re-make films that are already masterpieces. If you really feel you need to do a re-make, find a bad film and rise to the challenge of improving upon it (example: Christopher Nolan's "Insomnia"). With "Rashomon," there was nowhere to go but down.
The one exception is the aforementioned "Magnificent Seven." By Kurosawa's own admission, the inspiration for his "Seven Samurai" came from the American western genre. It's for this reason that Sturges' remake works so well.
18 of 32 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?