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Rashomon (1950)

Rashômon (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 26 December 1951 (USA)
The rape of a bride and the murder of her samurai husband are recalled from the perspectives of a bandit, the bride, the samurai's ghost and a woodcutter.

Director:

Akira Kurosawa

Writers:

Ryûnosuke Akutagawa (stories), Akira Kurosawa (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
4,880 ( 241)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Toshirô Mifune ... Tajômaru
Machiko Kyô ... Masako Kanazawa
Masayuki Mori ... Takehiro Kanazawa
Takashi Shimura ... Woodcutter
Minoru Chiaki ... Priest
Kichijirô Ueda Kichijirô Ueda ... Commoner
Noriko Honma Noriko Honma ... Medium
Daisuke Katô Daisuke Katô ... Policeman
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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, the motivations and the actual killing being what differ. The woodcutter reveals at Rashômon that he ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The husband, the wife...or the bandit? See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Mystery

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

26 December 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Rashomon See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$250,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$96,568, 2 April 2010
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During shooting, the cast approached Kurosawa en masse with the script and asked him, "What does it mean?" The answer Akira Kurosawa gave at that time and also in his biography is that Rashomon (1950) is a reflection of life, and life does not always have clear meanings. See more »

Quotes

Masako: A woman loves a man who loves passionately.
See more »

Alternate Versions

In order to get the film into more mainstream U.S. theatres, RKO also released this film in an English dubbed version. See more »

Connections

Version of Red Riding Hood (1931) See more »

Soundtracks

Woman's Tale Theme (Bolero)
Written by Fumio Hayasaka inspired by Maurice Ravel's "Bolero", using the same background rhythm, and similar orchestration and build-up, but different melodic lines.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

To what extent does subjectivity affect perception?
9 September 2007 | by ametaphysicalsharkSee all my reviews

"Rashomon" tells a very simple tale in a very complicated manner, presenting four 'versions' of the truth, each from a party either witness to or involved in the incident depicted. It is not the film's intent to have you piece together a puzzle since that would be impossible based on how drastically the four tales differ. We know that lies don't enter the equation since the participating persons all claim to be guilty. "Rashomon" is not about choosing a version of the incident you believe is true; it is about human perspective and how it shapes what we see. Even if we truly believe what we have seen is true, is it really?

The film opens when a priest and woodcutter are encountered by a man who engages in a conversation about crime with them and subsequently learns that a samurai has been killed in the woods and his wife raped by a bandit. These two details are the basic, practically undisputed facts which make up the foundation of the four versions of the story we hear: the bandit's, the woman's, her husband's (through a medium), and the woodcutter's (the only presumably objective account, which still does not make sense in relation to the others). In many ways the best thing about "Rashomon" is that it never reveals what actually happens (or if any of the four accounts is in fact true), and although we are not meant to solve the mystery (the idea here is that there is no objective truth since humans are too selfish and dishonest to view anything without bias) the story structure is still brilliant and adds a lot of ambiance to the film. The narrative flow is strong and the method seems fresh and inventive today despite countless imitations (including one inexplicably popular one- "The Usual Suspects").

"Rashomon" is very much a visual film. It would be reduced to unimportant and insignificant fare without the cinematography, which captures the mood and feel of the jungle perfectly, as does the score. The film achieves an epic feel very rare for films filmed in fullscreen, especially during the battle between the bandit and the samurai during the last telling of the story. Kurosawa was also wise enough to choose a location for the film that would accurately capture the eerie, slightly disturbing mood of the story. Just picture the events taking place anywhere other than a jungle.

"Rashomon" is not without its (minor) flaws, however. While theatrical acting (Kurosawa was fascinated with silent film) worked perfectly with films like "Seven Samurai" and "Throne of Blood", it does nothing but take away from the realism of this oft claustrophobic human drama. Yes, Mifune (Tajomaru, the bandit) does provide an interesting spin on his character for each telling, and Takashi Shumura (the woodcutter) seems as honest and real as any character could possibly be, but nearly all of that effect is lost every time Machiko Kyo appears on screen. It is hard to take her seriously and during moments when I should have been close to tears I was much closer to laughter. I'm not sure how much blame I would place on her as Kurosawa probably asked her to act exactly as she does. While discussing actors I have to (unconventionally) note Fumiko Honma as the medium, who brings a wonderfully eerie air to the film during its greatest scenes.

I don't think "Rashomon" is Kurosawa's best or most important film, but it is still a masterful piece of cinema which is absolutely essential for any film lover. It's extraordinary how much Kurosawa accomplished at such an early stage in his career and without the benefit of the lavish budgets he was allotted for later projects. The film's main question is also still relevant and confusing today: is what we think we see really the truth, and to what extent does subjectivity affect perception?

4.5/5


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