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Japan 1950
Directed by
Akira Kurosawa
85 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4.5 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. Despite its reputation as a benchmark for any film since that tackles the question of how we can surely know past events, But Rashomon is not so much about the well-worn subjective/objective debate than it is about the human tendency to self-servingness.

Set in feudal Japan it is a beautifully-composed and photographed film that re-tells in flashback a crime (a rape/murder) from the multiple and divergent perspectives of those involved. The point of the film is not however about the biased interpretations of events but their inevitably partial representation. Thus each protagonist and the witness relates the incident with their own self-interest in mind. Kurosawa gives us a down-to-earth peasant 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 Kenji Mizoguchi's films

Available from: Madman




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