The film depicts the rape of a woman and the apparent murder of her husband through the widely differing accounts of four witnesses, including the rapist and, through a medium (Fumiko Honma), the dead man. The stories are mutually contradictory, leaving the viewer to determine which, if any, is the truth. The story unfolds in flashback as the four characters—the bandit Tajōmaru (Toshirō Mifune), the murdered samurai (Masayuki Mori), his wife (Machiko Kyō), and the nameless woodcutter (Takashi Shimura)—recount the events of one afternoon in a grove. But it is also a flashback within a flashback, because the accounts of the witnesses are being retold by a woodcutter and a priest (Minoru Chiaki) to a ribald commoner (Kichijiro Ueda) as they wait out a rainstorm in a ruined gatehouse identified by a sign as Rashōmon.
A groundbreaking film worth repeated viewing. Rashomon is a groundbreaking film on many, many levels. Directed by Akira Kurosawa in 1950, it stars Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Machiko Kyō, Masayuki Mori and Minoru Chiaki. The gist of the plot is that a man was murdered and his wife raped. Or maybe not. It depends on who's telling the story. The ...
This film delights in its complex narrative structure, which examines the discrepancy between the personas we present and the character they represent. Mifune's honor hungry Tajômaru is enjoyable, but Kyô's performance as the samurai's wife who would rather be a murderer than unfaithful is by far the most powerful. The ennui of the film's narrators reflect the ramifications of the multi-faceted narrative, but Kurosawa generously furnishes us with a hopeful conclusion.
Toshiro Mifune is awesome in Seven Samurai, but I actually like him even more here. He's so dynamic and lively, all running around and shouting and laughing and being menacing. That's definitely one of my all time favorite performances by anyone. And most everything else about the movie is great, too. Rarely has the device of the unreliable narrator been used better than here.
Trying to decide which story is "true" is a fun exercise (the woodcutter has the least stake in it, and his account is the only one that doesn't make a hero/martyr out of any of the participants) but ultimately works against the purpose of the film. We're not meant to solve the mystery. Kurosawa could rightly be criticized for using such a cheap ploy as an abandoned infant to eke out a bit of optimism, but he's often a sentimentalist and he usually pulls it off well.
The first movie of its kind, and widely copied since... even by Star Trek: TNG
I'm going to have to revisit this film some time, because I've got to admit that at times I was bored. I'm not sure if this was the film's fault or my own, but I caught myself totally zoned out several times. The story is impeccable, but as soon as I found myself getting invested in the movie it would launch into 2 to 3 minutes of "suspense," where I would become bored and be taken out of the movie. It felt like short intermissions thrown into an otherwise good film.
Took some time until I realized the brilliance of Rashomon. What I at first preceived as poor and over the top acting (especially the woman), I soon discovered was all part of the storytelling of the different 'narrators'. Their emotions, state of mind, truths, all of this was taken into account with the depiction of their viewpoint of what actually occurred. I can't recall another film I wanted to rewatch right after completing my viewing and pick up little details that eluded me.
I love the adventurous cinematography and music in this one, creating a somewhat light mood that works as a contrast to the dark subject matter. Also an effectively simple and good script that offers an ambiguous look at human nature.