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Japan 1950
Directed by
Akira Kurosawa
85 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars


Winner of the 1951 Most Outstanding Foreign Language Film Oscar and the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, Rashomon is one of the best known of Kurosawa's films and with its high-end concept and exemplary realization both an art cinema classic and a benchmark for any film since that has tackled the question of how we can surely know the truth about the past, not so much because of the well-worn subjective/objective conflict than because of  the universal human tendency to self-servingness.

Set in feudal Japan it is a beautifully-composed and photographed (by Kazuo Miyagawa who shot Kurosawa's Yojimbo,1964, and also worked regularly for Kenji Mizoguchi) film that re-tells in flashback a crime (a rape/murder) from the multiple and divergent perspectives of those involved, each protagonist or witness relating the incident with their own self-interest in mind (even though one of them is now dead and in probably the most outstanding scene of the film relates the incident through a medium). Kurosawa gives us an unsophisticated wood-cutter (Kurosawa regular Takashi Shimura) and an idealistic priest as foils to this portrait of human cupidity eventually resolving his story with a somewhat contrived positive conclusion.

Based on stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Rashomon was the director's fifth collaboration with Toshiro Mifune and as the murdered man's wife in her first screen appearance Machiko Kyo an actress who would appear in many of Kurosawa and Mizoguchi's films




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