The word ‘Rashomon’ has passed into the English language to signify a narrative told from various, unreliable viewpoints. In this case, the mystery relates to the murder of a samurai and the rape of his wife in 11th century Japan, events which are relayed in wildly differing versions by those present: the bandit, the treacherous wife, a passing woodcutter and the spirit of the dead samurai.
This radically non-linear structure, with its profound implications about the fallibility of perspective, impressed judges at the 1951 Venice Film Festival. They awarded Akira Kurosawa’s film the Golden Lion, helping to encourage a broader interest in Japanese film in the west. With its snaking bolero-like score and poetic use of dappled forest light, Rashomon is a work of enduring ambiguity.
“What is the truth – the perceived, or the real? What is justice? And who decides? A story of a murder told from four different angles by four different people asks troubling questions of us.” Ranjita Biswas
“Probably the greatest testament to what film as an artform can do.” Johannes Lõhmus
“A film that single-handedly changed the way we perceive storytelling, its relationship with the visual medium and the narrative language of cinema itself. This is where the movies’ long love affair with the grammar of time started.” Rahul Desai
“It’s hard to think of a more perfect film about the focal role of storytelling in the construction of human society.” Vigen Galstyan