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Crime, Drama, Mystery
IMDB rating:
Akira Kurosawa
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
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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They all might be genuinely thinking to themselves that they're telling the truth
There's a scientific study called "Rashomon Effect". You could say this film is that good, plus given the circumstances of the making in 1950s. Alas the film work alone deserves the spotlight.

We all can think of our own "Rashomon" experiences from our lives. People can be believing in a same event in different ways. They would tell similar yet different stories.

This might sound a cliché, but sometimes there can be no absolute truth of one thing. Things could happen to have its different perspectives subjectively. So it leads to a problem that if we can blame someone that he/she lied because another person is telling differently. They all might be genuinely thinking to themselves that they're telling the truth.

Aside the well known quotes of this film, I also liked the quote: " ... I even heard that the demon living here in Rashomon fled in fear of the ferocity of man."

By the way, Homer Simpson says he liked Rashomon. Although he remembers it differently.
Excellent Kurosawa
Let's begin by explaining that 8/10 is a very high score for me: 95% of all films score lower than that. So this would be one of the best.

I don't think I can ad anything substantial in describing this film relative to others. I would only say that it is a very interesting film and one would certainly improve his knowledge of world culture by watching it. It is also very enjoyable in its own right, with some very funny moments and overall it provides an unforgettable experience.

Highly recommended for those that are open to different types of film than those we see today. Though it is actually more accessible than many films from the 1950's. It is not slow paced, but instead requires quite a concentration from the viewer to understand it: some parts are really fast, which is natural considering that this is a 1 and half hour film.
Distinctly Resonates As Akira Kurosawa's Finest Outing
Examining Rashômon is a lengthy process, mainly due to the substantial amount of material on offer and the thought-provoking questions which should be probed subsequent to viewing. Not only does the film ask some of life's most profound questions, but it also begins to confront various evocative ideas. Essentially, Akira Kurosawa's unmatched classic is about gaining an understanding; the film's first conversation introduces characters who "don't understand" and are looking for answers, this is opening the primary theme.

Personally, Rashômon has forever been favourite of Kurosawa's directional works. It also happens to be the film which introduced me to the work of an auteur; a man whose vision echoes that of a revolutionary cinematic historian. From the likes of Shichinin no samurai, to Ran, Kurosawa is *the* director of Japanese cinema. During his lifetime he managed to confirm himself as one of the world's leading film-makers. He was director who created cinema which was impossible to match, and his influence still resounds within even the most mainstream works of today. For example, the non-linear narrative structure of Rashômon has been respectfully woven in numerous films since. Rashômon was the work which propelled the career of Kurosawa; even though it was not widely regarded in its own country at the time, it was hailed by the critics of the Western world.

Rashômon is the compressed tale of an innocent woman's rape and her husband's murder, performed by a ruthless bandit (acted out by Kurosawa's long-time working partner Toshirô Mifune). Even though the bandit is caught and consequently put on trial, the seemingly simple crime soon becomes questionably more complicated as it is recounted from four individually detached "eye-witness" perspectives. Posing many philosophical questions for the viewer, the picture asks which story is the one to believe (if any), through -what was at the time and still remains- a highly stylised storytelling technique. Establishing a verdict on the heinous crime centred upon in Rashômon is as much an ordeal as the crime itself because it proves to be an incident which provokes moral questioning and fierce debate.

The film-making techniques used in Rashomon gave birth to a distinct style that Kurosawa was prepared to develop further in his later works, which can be seen in films such as Yojimbo and Shichinin no samurai. Level-headed pragmatism plagued Kurosawa's features throughout his earlier years; this was something that came as an advantage for his films, being that the characters (even the villains) portrayed in his films were genuine people you could feel compassion and remorse for. Also, Kurosawa began to define genres throughout the 1950s and 1960s, while also bringing to light some now-popular (often overused) methods of camera movement, e.g. dutch angles, revolving shots and amplified close-ups.

For those who question the film's offbeat narrative structure, they should ask themselves whether or not the cut-throat editing is there as a means of symbolising the colliding viewpoints. I consider this to be a daring means of combining humanitarian lies and honesty, and also a means of creating a disorientating, volatile impression. With Rashômon, Kurosawa's admiration for silent cinema came into evident practice; this can be seen through the minimalist set-pieces, which are a contrast to the complex storytelling procedure that his work embodies. The ambiguity of Rashômon is detailed through subtly metaphorical cinematography and lighting techniques. I have always seen the setting of the woods as a display of the work's central atmosphere (intrigue) and the shadows periodically depicting a loss of empathy and symbolising the isolated danger of the surroundings.

The majority of films fail to emphasise with the viewer, this can blamed on the morals being "mixed" and ultimately enabling the viewer to become unsure of a film's statement. However, with Rashômon the morals are clear and refined, without being preachy or simplistic. Summing up the greed, confusion, deprivation and indulgence of the world is a tricky business, but somehow Kurosawa has the ability to perform such a task with exceeding talent. Rashômon warrants a right to be hailed as a definitive classic. Unlike its story, I doubt that viewers of Rashômon hold clashing opinions, being that it is far too flawless to be argued over.
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.
Kurosawa's first milestone, one of the top foreign films of the 20th century
Akira Kurosawa was one of those directors, the first from the Eastern hemisphere, to develop the form and structure of cinema in ways it hadn't been. The story he used for Rashomon is now, like Seven Samurai, Hidden Fortress, and Yojimbo, a near archetype that at this point in the history of film has become formula and common knowledge for writers and directors. In that sense, Rashomon is as important and entertaining as a film as Citizen Kane, Battleship Potemkin, Rear Window, or Open City. Tee basic premise- Four different people give four different accounts on the rape and murder of a couple in the woods. A key ingredient to the success of Rashomon, is that the recollections given to the courts by the woman, the bandit, the as well as the four in discussion, is that their emotions reveal their humanity, even if their details reveal nothing, or everything. It's difficult to say whether character goes over story here, or if they have equal importance to understand Kurosawa's psychology with these people.

The opening shot of the house is a perfect representation of the mature of the picture, something that has fallen apart over time due to disasters that go beyond control of individuals. The man who heard the testimonies of the trial says "I don't understand". This has been a discussed line, since essentially he's saying the point right up front. All the information won't ease his puzzlement. The three who discuss the details of the crimes and confessions are crucial- they speak for us, what our opinions might be, and we listen to each version of the story, the characters, the fears, the pride, the shame, and the search for judgment and/or truth in the situation.

Along with being director and co-adapter, Kurosawa's mastery is revealed heavily in his use of editing- there are short, fleeting moments that hint, or rather pronounce, emotions and thoughts. For instance, when we first see Tajomaru, the bandit, played by action-legend Toshiro Mifune, he is looking up at the sky, bound in straps to keep him from moving, and for a second, or less than a second, there's a shot of what he sees in the sky, then back to his face which reveals an expression that borders on skeptical, and a bit crazed, or more. Mifune's part is of a barbarian, but all the more believable as a human barbarian since he acts as such with animal desires- he sees the woman in the woods, and knows he wants her, and while he reflects that he didn't have to have killed the man, he did as a last resort as a man with an urge. This is intensified by a sadistic flee with his actions.

What's intriguing about that first description/recollection of the battle between him and the other man, is that it seems like it could be the truth, and to one viewer it could, and to another it seems like it could all be apart of his hyperactive and trapped imagination. And in the attack of the bandit on the woman, at first to him, it's like a game, then in later descriptions, he feels a little more un-easy, then later, it's of neither pleasure or discomfort, it just is. This kind of technique later happens with the woman who was victim (who has conviction, though is herself an archetype of Lifetime women), the presence who saw it "all", and with the man who in the beginning didn't understand. In each telling the expressions, the cut-aways, the lighting and movement by Kazuo Miyagawa, it's equally startling, exhilarating.

That the film gives off such a hypnotic aura isn't surprising, or perhaps it is for those in the grips of the emotion of it all- the dead man's story is like the hook ripping into a twelve foot bass. The final accouter of the tale proves the most accurate to the common observer, yet Kurosawa knows that's not the point- if he made it as such to be bold AND had a definite concrete point, the ending would be as poignant when revealed is the truth, or what one could believe as the closest thing to it is. We know why that last person didn't want to get involved with the courts with what he knows: his story is no more a revelation, of any comfort or consolation to the listeners, than the others. I highly recommend this to anyone, and to those who have distaste to foreign films should view it once anyway- it's certainly not a long movie, and it won't loose its grip on anyone willing to give itself to the tale(s). For me, it's another to add to my top 50 of all time.
"Come on Homer, You Liked Rashomon." "That's not how I Remember It"
This film is the glorious work of a genius. A blend of unique, exciting and sophisticated storytelling, and visual mastery. Rashomon is essentially a crime mystery set in Japan. The crime is recalled very differently from different people's perspectives, so the audience is never entirely sure what the truth actually is. You build up an idea of the characters, but since they're presented differently each time, you can never have a set idea of who they truly are. The way the plot structured is very stimulating. Often plots that work this way come together at the end like a jigsaw puzzle, but not so with Rashomon. You're left with four very different jigsaw puzzles and no real answers.

Visually it's truly excellent. The men recounting the story in a temple in the pouring rain is a glorious visual. I found the whole world that has been created very convincing and completely absorbing. Kurosawa builds tension through knowing exactly when to cut and when to linger, and the music creeps right under your skin.

My only minor criticism of the film would be that, by choosing not to show the court, Tajomaru talks in a strange expositional way where he'll repeat the unheard question before giving his answer. This just wasn't my favorite thing as it was a stylistic choice that brought me out of the film if only for a moment. Other than that this film is pretty much perfectly balanced with truly stunning performances. The acting is so visceral, and it has to be to capture the many nuances of these characters. Mifune as Tajomaru is particularly absorbing with his constant animalistic stance and his frequent itching. It's hard to take your eyes off him.

I thought this film perfectly captured much of the human essence. Of how people think of themselves, and how they think about others. It will keep you mesmerised throughout and thinking long after it has finished. Masterful storytelling from one of the masters of cinema.
Good -- but hardly a masterpiece
Let me start by saying that this movie is quite good. You will not have squandered the hour and a half it takes to watch it. However, a few things bothered me: 1. Perhaps a quibble, but I *hated* the music. The endless loop of what sounded like variations on Bolero for the first half of the movie -- augh! In general, I found it very choreographed; at times, it was more like watching a ballet. It was very overwrought and distracting.

2. The acting. Horribly overdone on the part of Toshiro Mifune; at times he seemed to have taken classes at the Daffy Duck School of Acting. He was not the only one overacting, either, just the most prominent.

3. The ending. We get through this very subtle and ambiguous movie, where, even at the end, we have no clue which of the four versions (or which mix of the four versions!) of the story actually happened, and Kurosawa absolutely clubs us silly with the theme of redemption. I wanted the movie to end when the woodcutter said, "On days like this, we have cause to be suspicious" (or something similar). I don't know what possessed Kurosawa to bugger the ending like he did, but, in my version, it'd be about two minutes shorter.

That said, there's a lot to like about the movie. I love how Kurosawa leads you into a false smugness at the end when it's revealed that the woodcutter stole the dagger. "Ah hah!" I thought; "Clearly, the dead samurai was telling the truth!" I was impressed with my sleuthing, my quick recall of the medium relating that he felt someone removing the dagger. Then it occurred to me that, in every story, the dagger was left behind. Probably my favorite part was when I had to go back and watch the end of all of the stories to ensure that the dagger was still there, either in the samurai or in the ground.

Good movie, but in desperate need of a dose of subtlety.
A rare and a unique masterpiece from the master himself
As oppose to its commonplace plot, Rashomon as a concept is extraordinarily idiosyncratic and perhaps it is this striking attribute that makes it an undisputed masterpiece, howsoever improbable. It vividly limns the artistry of contrivance innate in the human psyche owing to the importunate desire of humans to placate their insatiable egos. This manipulation of facts has no limits and entirely depends upon the skill of imaginative improvisation of the individual along with his level of comfort at skullduggery. The ability to misinterpret comes naturally to the humans as a desperate ploy to counter the adversities of life and that's what makes it indispensable. As a direct consequence of contrivance, the concept of truth no longer remains universal but becomes rather subjective and a matter of individualistic perception.

Rashomon pioneered Kurosawa's dream tryst with perpetual brilliance and undoubtedly played a pivotal part in making his name a mark of excellence in the world of cinema. Rashomon is a well knitted tale about a supercilious samurai, his whimsical wife and a boorish bandit. The bandit inveigles the samurai into imprisonment and has his way with samurai's wife. The dead body of the samurai is later discovered under mysterious circumstances by a woodcutter. The bandit is captured and arraigned along with the deranged widow of the samurai. Their narrated versions seem such contrasting that a psychic is called upon to conjure up the dead samurai's spirit to record his testimony in order to corroborate the facts that seemed excessively manipulated. The samurai's version yet again differs considerably from the testimonies of the other two. Each version though different seemed to satiate the respective ego of the testifier. The woodcutter, who didn't want to get involved personally, later confesses to a priest to have actually witnessed the incident and comes up with a version of his own which falsifies the other three. The movie is ingenious as its actual motive has nothing to do with the revelation of truth as verity is merely a matter of lame perception, but rather is to highlight the discrepancies among the different versions as a medium to depict the irrational complexities associated with the human psyche.

The concept of Rashomon though well ahead of its time, sowed the seeds for creative innovation in the world of cinema and has served as the undisputed benchmark of innovative excellence for well over five decades. A quintessential Kurosawa classic, strongly recommended to the masses for its sheer brilliance and enigmatic charm. 10/10
One of the Greats
I recently had a conversation with one of my friends about how much we liked films shot in a forest in black and white. It seems that forests and art-house cinema go hand in hand (i.e. SEVENTH SEAL, MARKETA LAZAROVA etc.) Of these RASHOMON may be the earliest, popularizing the setting through avant-garde techniques that would seem audacious even if made today. Breaking continuity, pointing the camera directly at the sun, constantly tracking from beneath twigs and branches. At times the cinematography appears almost impressionist, blending the characters into the background, literally forcing man to become a part of nature. This immersion of man into nature comes at a point when we are expecting excitement and action. Entering a flashback prefaced by horror and death, Kurosawa instead decides to spend 3 minutes tracking a woodsman as he wanders through the forest. In one of the most brilliant sequences I have ever seen put to film, Kurosawa introduces man at its most honest, alone, and unassuming. When the woodsman stumbles upon the deceased samurai, his hands are splayed upwards, mirroring the branches that framed the woodsman previously. All of this acts as a preface to Kurosawa's exploration of the folly of mankind through lies, manipulation, and hyperbole. The very nature of film is to exaggerate and embellish characters by placing them into easily understandable categories of protagonist and antagonist. Here Kurosawa exposes this by retelling the exact same narrative 3 different ways, with each character placing themselves as the murderer, only pretending to be in control of their own actions. It is only until the 4th version, where the woodsman appears to tell the "truest" version of this story, exposing how fragile these people really are. Note that I say truest since his story is the only version of the events that are revealed to be an outright lie because of the exclusion of the bejeweled dagger. When we witness the fight sequence between the samurai and Tajomaru, the bandit, the first time it appears well choreographed like an elaborate dance number, with Tajomaru noting that he fought honorably and crossed swords 36 times. When we see the fight scene the second time, however, it is much more barbaric and fearful. The fright appearing through the slight trepidation on Mifune's hand during the battle. This dissonance between the perceived "noble" samurai and the brutality of war would be explored 4 years later in Kurosawa's own SEVEN SAMURAI. Many times throughout the film institutions based on trust and the unknown are explored, such as the priest and the medium. Their reliance only affirmed by the others' willingness to believe them. The film ends with a man stealing a blanket from a baby. When confronted by the priest he affirms his actions by shouting that we are no different from dogs. Selfishness is the only thing that provides for self-preservation and you can't trust anybody but yourself. This idea shatters the priests faith as this solipsistic notion puts all of mankind at odds against itself, painting a backdrop of war and conflict as a continuation of false bravado and self aggrandizement. At this point when the axeman tries to take the baby off of the priest's hands he is met with hostility as there would be no way to trust a bandit with the fate of a small child. It is not until the bandit reveals that he already has 6 other's that the priest reaffirms his faith by allowing himself to believe a complete stranger. Although this may seem like a tacked on happy ending, the film has set us up to assume that we cannot put our trust in anything but our own perceptions. The bandit could very well be lying to the priest and kidnapping the child for alternative reasons. Like the religion the priest blindly follows, mankind is an institution that we have to either commit to fully or not at all.
my all time favorite Kurosawa movie
Rashomon seams to be at the first look a simple crime story, but with continuing you notice there is something special with it. I saw the movie countless times and even after years it is still exciting and let me think about the story.

In my opinion it shows the difficulties of understanding each other. Everybody seams to see things different than the others. After all nothing could describe this case one hundred percent to you: You have to watch it yourself.

Of all the Kurosawa movies I would rank this one on the first place, after that Seven Samurai (1956) and Ran (1985).
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