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Crime, Drama, Mystery
IMDB rating:
Akira Kurosawa


          Rashômon IMDb    Rashômon Wikipedia    Rashômon Soundtrack

Toshirô Mifune as Tajômaru
Machiko Kyô as Masako Kanazawa
Masayuki Mori as Takehiro Kanazawa
Takashi Shimura as Woodcutter
Minoru Chiaki as Priest
Kichijiro Ueda as Commoner
Fumiko Honma as Medium
Daisuke Katô as Policeman
Rashômon Storyline: A priest, a woodcutter and another man are taking refuge from a rainstorm in the shell of a former gatehouse called Rashômon. The priest and the woodcutter are recounting the story of a murdered samurai whose body the woodcutter discovered three days earlier in a forest grove. Both were summoned to testify at the murder trial, the priest who ran into the samurai and his wife traveling through the forest just before the murder occurred. Three other people who testified at the trial are supposedly the only direct witnesses: a notorious bandit named Tajômaru, who allegedly murdered the samurai and raped his wife; the white veil cloaked wife of the samurai; and the samurai himself who testifies through the use of a medium. The three tell a similarly structured story - that Tajômaru kidnapped and bound the samurai so that he could rape the wife - but which ultimately contradict each other...
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Not the classic i was expecting
The word rashomon has been used to describe quite a few films i have seen in the last couple of years . So i decided to watch the the film where the word originates from . Only two weeks ago i watched Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samarai for the first time and i was really impressed so did Rashomon have the same affect on me? Set in the 11th century, the movie opens with a woodcutter, a priest, and a commoner sheltering from torrential rain in an immense dilapidated wooden structure. This structure, known as Rashomon gate, marks one of the approaches to Kyoto. As the three men wait for the weather to improve, they talk about a legal proceeding stemming from an incident involving a possible murder. A samurai was found dead, and the circumstances surrounding his death are shown from four conflicting points of view.

I'm pretty sure no matter how many times you watch this film, Akira Kurosawa never gives enough information in the movie to figure out the truth about what took place on the day of the samurai's death.

But without trying to look too deeply into what this film is about , i feel "Rashomon" is about searching for some kind of absolute truth—it's about how differently people perceive the same external event.

Do i feel this film deserves the status it quite clearly has in movie making history ? well , yes and no. Quite clearly this is the first time the same story is told from the point of view of more than one person and that has spurned countless classic movies and for that it deserves it's place in history but as a film in it's own right it just didn't do it for me.

Some of the overacting annoyed me . The Constant laughing by the bandit and the commoner was both confusing and unnecessary and i found the lack of a conclusion frustrating but what i will say is that Just like " Seven Samurai " it is beautifully shot.

Incidentally when Rashomon was being made , the cast approached Kurosawa en masse with the script and asked him, "What does it mean?" The answer Kurosawa gave at that time and also in his biography is that "Rashomon" is a reflection of life, and life does not always have clear meanings.

Make of that what you will but at least i wasn't the only one confused! 6 out of 10
A Kurosawa masterwork
Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon is a film that works like a Japanese Alfred Hitchcock suspense thriller, though it is a riveting suspense thriller it has a different plot that even though is suspenseful that Hitchcock never used a plot like this. It is about the aftermath of a murder and the many different points of view of what they think really happened. Kurosawa uses a cast full of unfamiliar people to us (in other words familiar to the people of Japan)which includes Toshiro Mifune in the title role as a samurai bandit accused of murder, and Takashi Shimura as a middle aged man who finds all of the evidence to the scene of the crime just a few days after the murder happened. This was a well executed film that really made me want to see Kurosawa films a lot more often because of how great this movie really was.
"It's human to lie."
RASHOMON is a film that is much more than just a cinema. Its footprints in literature, psychology and philosophy are simply indelible. I will be focusing only on film.

At first glance, the film is exotic. Kurosawa's films are like that. However, the exotic in this case is reflected in the simple set design, the beauty of picture and sound, emotional acting appearance and excellent close-ups. The essence lies in the fact that the audience is not used to this kind of movies. I am one of those who are enthusiastic.

Horrible event narrated with four different point of view, none of which may not be true. Although the point of view of similar and tragic at the same time are thematically different. This is not about rationalization but the understanding of human nature. Kurosawa took the burden to the public to provide answers to these questions and in this down to the darkest depths of the human soul.

Why do people lie to themselves and everyone else? I think that any suggestion or an individual assessment of the film does not give much room for optimism. The beginning of the film we just all talk. Three wandering the ruined house hidden from the rain. The country is devastated, people disappointed and full of mistrust.

It is interesting that a film, which is so focused on human nature acts like a fairytale, tense and wild at the same time. This is truly a masterpiece.
"I just don't understand this story"
These are the opening words of Rashômon, and in a way that's also a summary of the entire film. It is the story of four testimonies of the same event that couldn't differ more. It is told by a priest and a woodcutter to a commoner, as they seek shelter from the rain under the Rashomon gate. The priest and the woodcutter were witnesses in a trial, and what they heard there made them puzzled, and after they told everything, the viewer is just as puzzled as these two.

What happened? Takehiro, a samurai has been murdered and Masako, his wife has been raped, the suspect is Tajômaru. And indeed, in court he confesses to have raped the woman and to have killed the samurai in duel. Masako however tells quite a different story: After Tajômaru took advantage of her, he left and despair and pity made her kill her husband, but to commit suicide, just as she originally planned, she's to weak. Then the murdered samurai speaks, through the voice of a medium. In his story, he committed suicide because of disgust at his wife, who asked Tajomaru to kill him in order to accompany the robber. At the end, we hear even another story from the woodcutter, who was, as he reveals, an eyewitnesses. In his version, Tajômaru killed the samurai in a duel (or rather: in a brawl) that was demanded by his wife.

Now what did really happen? Why did at least three of these four people lie? The reason cannot be (as the commoner says at one point) that everyone told what was useful for him, since, except for the woodcutter, everyone told a story in which he was the killer. So do they all think their story is true? Do they all feel guilty for a reason or another? These questions will cause endless discussions once you watch this film.

And the end, Kurosawa raises another question: If man keeps lying (to others as well as to himself), does that mean he is evil? This question is underlined by the crying baby the three men find in the Rashômon gate. Kurosawa's answer to this question is clearly a no: the woodcutter takes the baby to raise him and the priest realizes that he is a good man, even although he's a lier and a thief.

But if Kurosawa had only raised these questions, Rashômon wouldn't have become such a classic as it is considered today. He is telling his story with breathtaking images, as when he's holding his camera directly into the sun, when he uses the wood, light and shadow to create a dense atmosphere, or when he shows the trial scenes, where he makes the witnesses talk to the viewers to make them feel like the judges. The fight scenes are all terrifically shot, and the scene before Masako kills Takehiro can move you to tears. Rashômon also has some good acting, especially the breathtaking Toshirô Mifune in one of film history's most unforgettable performances as the wild robber Tajômaru, always jumping around and seemingly untamable and unafraid. All this makes Rashômon a mind-boggling experience, that had me talk all night through with friends of mine, and still stirs me whenever i watch it.
A pensive tale of seeking out elusive objectivity
"Rashomon" was one of Akira Kurosawa's masterpieces, as the film features an ingenious narrative structure, excellent acting and a musing exploration into the fine line that separates perception from reality. The story of a barbaric crime and its aftermath is recounted from 4 contradictory viewpoints and we are given the gruesome details of each one.

"Rashomon" is a beautiful piece of art for so many reasons. In a way, it plays out almost like more of a parable than a film. When asked about "Rashomon", Kurosawa once said, "One of the technique of modern art is simplification, and that I must therefore simplify this film." The plot itself is fairly straightforward and we are not left in a major state of ambiguity by film's end. However, this is a film that, like its enigmatic characters, seeks an ulterior motive. Aside from merely providing us with guidance on how to properly conduct ourselves, it frequently uses metaphorical language which helps to elucidate the more complex ideas. "Rashomon" is didactic in its search, not discovery, of moral and spiritual answers.

And that word "search" is very important to the ultimate meaning of "Rashomon". This film does not seek to provide some revelation of truth to negate the varying perceptions, but rather to delve deeper into the human psyche by calling attention to the disparity between how we as humans think and rationalize.

It is near impossible to adequately praise Kurosawa for what he created with "Rashomon". The astonishing cinematography and use of "dappled" light perfectly captures the eerie, shadowy feel of the atmosphere. All of the actors (Mifune, Mori) bring a gripping realism to their characters. The dialogue is intelligent and introspective, particularly with its constant reflection of existential questions. What truly set this film apart is that, to a certain degree, every line uttered seems to reveal some level of humanity. There is no superfluous detail I can recall that needn't be said nor presented throughout.

One aspect of the film I found particularly interesting is how Rashomon chose to supplant the presence of a judge (to whom each person is recounting their story to) for silence, with each individual stating, then proceeding to answer, the question supposedly being asked to them. This technique demands that we be the one to deliberate over their conflicting stories. It is up to us decide for ourselves "What do we believe?" or, for some, "What do we WANT to believe?" It seems that Kurosawa is trying to convey the idea that, in the end, there is no one right answer - truth is, in itself, a matter of subjectivity. With "Rashomon", Kurosawa offers us a powerful and masterful piece of film-making that really makes you question the human condition.
A superb Classic
Kurosawa's magic film is a composite of 2 Japanese short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa: One, "Rashomon," the title tells of a confrontation of a young man at Rashomon, the large, fortified gate at one entrance to Kyoto where people would abandon children and corpses; the other, yabu no naka ni, "In a Grove," tells of the confrontation between the bandit, the samurai and his wife, told from the point of view of the woodcutter. In 1950, Kurosawa weaves this tale of human vanity and duplicity with the young Toshiro Mifune, as the bandit, Machiko Kyo as the lady and Masayuki Mori as the samurai. The tale unfolds through the flashbacks in the narration of the great Takashi Shimura as the woodcutter, supported by character actors Minoru Chiaki as the monk and Kichijiro Ueda as the bum. Basically, with a cast of six and the stark settings of a woods and a dilapidated castle gate in pouring rain, Kurosawa the magician gives us four views of human vanity, excessive pride and cultural conflict. The foibles of human needs are exposed but redeemed in the final scene where the basic act of kindness brings closure to the bizarre display of greed, lust and mendacity that has gone before. For a Kurosawa film, this one is short, to the point with an economy of emoting-- for which Mifune was never accused of under doing and the viewer is left somewhat exhausted by all the twists and turns, confused by the mix of contradictions and seeming paradox, but satisfied with a feeling of hope.
Kurosawa is just so damn good
"Rashomon", Akira Kurosawa's 1950 film about a horrible crime and the various versions of the "truth" that come to fruition during the investigation is absolutely amazing, pure and simple. The story is told four different times, each time from the point of view of one of the participants. The basic story of the crime is that a bandit (Mifune) comes across a husband and wife traveling through the forest. The bandit, Tajomaru, seduces/assaults the Masako (Kyo) after tying up her husband Takehiro (Mori), and soon after, Takehiro is dead. What happens between the times Tajomaru encounters the couple and the discovery of Takehiro's body is what is left to be discovered. Masako, Tajomaru and even Takehiro (with the assistance of a medium) each tell their account of the story, each taking blame for Takehiro's death. The fourth telling is from a passer-by, and the audience is left to decide which is the true account.

I absolutely loved this film. I had heard that Yimou Zhang's "Hero" had, if not as an homage, employed the same technique of storytelling and perspective, but seeing this great film was a real treat. The story is original and rich, and Kurosawa always is able to pull great performances from his actors. I found "Rashomon" to be extremely compelling from start to finish, and even managed to be really creeped out at one point. (The psychic medium is pure, unadulterated nightmare fuel) From the very little that I know of Japanese cinema of the 1950's & 1960's, I realize that Kurosawa was not the only director, but he certainly was the trailblazer and set the bar for the genre for decades to come. His peers were putting out material, it was just fairly primitive. (It is easy to forget that not every country's film industry was as opulent as America's) To see this kind of film, a film that is actually incredibly simple, but so ingeniously conceived of and executed makes me remember why I have been and always will be both a student of and lover of film. 8/10 --Shelly
These stories we tell each other
Based on a short story by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, Rashomon is one of Akira Kurosawa's biggest films and the breakthrough film that brought him and Japanese cinema in general to Western audiences. A tale about a murder and the various lies we tell each other to make sense of our existence.

The film is about a murder trial. A nefarious bandit, Tajômaru (Toshirô Mifune), is accused of murdering a travelling samurai in front of his wife. We hear four different versions of the events that took place. One from each of the three and one from a bystander. Each tale differs from one another and in the end it's left for the viewer to decide who to believe.

Rashomon is a clever tale and full of depths, but it also shows that Kurosawa was still travelling towards his prime. The acting is a bit overplayed in certain scenes. Mifune especially overacts constantly, which in some ways fits the character, but is still a bit jarring. The score is also surprisingly distracting. That being said, the camera-work is beautiful, the storytelling works very well and even the framing story about people hiding from the rain and talking about the trial is not as bad as it could be.

And it's simply a fascinating story on thematic level. It's made clear very early that all the witnesses lie to make themselves look better. They all try to shift the blame, to make their own accord seem dignified or born out of necessity. Even the final story by the bystander has undercurrents that make it seem not as objective as it should. So who to believe?

In the end the film provides no answers. Rather it asks us to wonder how common this sort of behaviour is in everyday life. Do we shape our subjective realities by telling stories? And if we do so, do we also allow the stories of others to have an affect on what we believe to be true, to be reality?

It's up to you to decide. But first you have to ask the question in the first place.
Set around a murder trial where none of the witnesses' accounts match, this powerful film offers a critical look at human nature
Made in 1950, RASHOMON was Japanese director Akira Kurosawa's first big splash internationally, and I find it deserves its ranking as one of the greatest films of all time. It asks a question that has continued to resonate down the years: can one have faith in other human beings if they not only can lie to you, they can even lie to themselves? The plot, an adaption of a Ryunosuke Akutagawa short story, concerns a murder trial where each of the people called to testify gives a different account. As the film opens, a woodcutter (Takashi Shimura) and a priest (Minoru Chiaki), sitting out a downpour, recount the trial for another man sheltering from the rain. The woodcutter had discovered the body of a murdered samurai (Masayuku Mori) in the forest. A captured brigand, Tajomaru (Toshiro Mifune), is accused of doing the deed, and he gives one account at the trial. The samurai's wife (Machiko Kyo), who fled Tajomaru's attack and has been found hysterical in a nearby temple, provides another version of events to the judge. Then, in a twist that is still fresh today, the dead man himself gives his own, yet again different account of what happened through a spirit medium.

Each of the different versions, depicted in flashbacks, serve to protect the honour of the particular person who is testifying. But what really happened? The story never makes that clear. In fact, it suggests that the real truth might be unrecoverable, because each of the people testifying isn't just trying to deceive others, they actually believe what they are saying.

RASHOMON is rather short for one of Kurosawa's major films at 88 minutes, and shot with only the three locations of rainstorm, forest, and court, yet it is rich with detail. As each of the characters' accounts is shown in flashbacks, the same general events are shown in different ways. Furthermore, the personalities of the characters are shown to be different depending on who is testifying, which lets the actors really shine. Toshiro Mifune gives one of his classic buffo roles as the oafish, laughing bandit, but I really appreciated how Machiko Kyo was deftly able to present her character alternately as a fierce woman, a weak and fragile wife, and a cunning trickster.

Besides the great acting, the film also impresses through its camera work, contributed by cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa in the first of several collaborations with Kurosoawa. In spite of the limitations of black and white, the film offers an evocative nature setting, with the vivid effect of sun shining through the trees in the forest where the murder unfolds.

As RASHOMON is rather on the short side for a Kurosawa masterpiece, this might serve as a good introduction to the director if you are reluctant to dedicate so much time to one of his big samurai epics.
What is truth?
Rainy day? Need something to ponder upon? Then take a seat at one of the stairs of the Rashomon gate and listen to a particularly strange murder mystery. But be aware upfront that this is not about the culprit, as you'll hear several confessions, but all won't match. Who's lying? Why? Is it all intentional? Or due to different perceptions? Are people cheating on themselves as well? For their own good, for the sake of accepting reality, or because they are adhering to a principle they consider superior? What is real? What is true? Is it possible at all to understand? Thus are the questions posed under the Rashomon. But that we cannot grasp it is exactly the point.

Kurosawa's version of Akutagawa's tale "In a Bomboo Grove" doesn't shun from irritating the audience by presenting various accounts of the same story without providing a satisfying resolution. With the abandoning of the conventional, objective narrative form he opened the door to distortions of reality shown on screen, broadening the horizons of what a camera can convey, adding another level of sophistication to the medium. Dismissed by the studio he was working for as incomprehensible, Kurosawa's "Rashomon" however hit the western film world like a bomb. With the prizes it won it would become the gateway that opened Japanese cinema to the rest of the world and establish Kurosawa as a director to reckon with. Yet it is not only the fresh idea that makes "Rashomon" different - music and sound undoubtedly are highly effective, but the exceptionally strong point of the film is that it offers flawless cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa, who would later also shoot Mizogushi's appraised pearls "Sansho the Bailiff" and "Ugetsu". And of course "Rashomon" already has Kurosawa's future key player Toshiro Mifune as the bandit, who borrows with his extreme expressions from the silent era, and this intensity of acting makes a film about reality in question even more stirring. Good cinema should ask questions, and rarely it is done as masterful as here.
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