One fine evening in a fall season in 1951, a man from Tokyo walked towards his house. He was very tired and frustrated, because his plans for the next movie were dropped by the movie studio. He didn't had any idea, what to do next. But, his wife came running out of the house , in a jubilant manner and wished him for the 'Grand prix' award, his movie attained in Berlin Film Festival. He was shocked, because he don't even know that his movie was sent to the film festival. The movie, also won a academy award in the same year. It struck the world of film like thunderbolt, changed the perspectives of story telling and direction. The movie was 'Rashomon', and the man 'Akira Kurosawa.'
Shortly before filming was to begin on "Rashomon," Kurosawa's three assistant directors came to see him. They were unhappy. They didn't understand the story. "If you read it diligently," he told them, "you should be able to understand it, because it was written with the intention of being comprehensible." They would not leave: "We believe we have read it carefully, and we still don't understand it at all."
PlotSeeking shelter from a driving rain, a priest and a peasant huddle under Kyoto's dilapidated Gate. They shake their heads in bewilderment at a mystery that cannot easily be solved in 11th century Japan, where feudal wars have left Kyoto - and the truth - in ruins. A woodcutter, who claims to have witnessed a rape and a murder in the woods, joins the pair to talk about what occurred.
So begins Kurosawa's Rashomon, the essential film that considers the ravishment of a noblewoman by a cunning bandit and the subsequent death of her husband, a proud samurai, in flashback, from four contradictory perspectives. The flashbacks take place in the sun-dappled woods, as shadow-ridden and primal as those in a fairy tale. (In his memoirs, Kurosawa described these woods as a place where "the human heart loses its way.") Each testimony - that of victim, bandit, woodcutter, and spirit of the dead samurai, who communicates through a medium - is different. Which is the truth?
Rashomon is, best known for its many firsts. It was the first film in which Kurosawa directed the great Toshiro Mifune, who would go on to star in 11 more of his films, in the process forming the greatest director-actor team in the history of film. It was the first film in which Kurosawa gained true international recognition, even though he had been writing and directing films since 1943. And, finally, it was one of the first films to challenge in a unique and artistic way our assumptions about the links between storytelling and reality, especially as they are related cinematically.
Aside from its formal narrative complexity, Rashomon is also widely heralded as an innovative film visually. Toshiro Mifune plays the bandit with terrifying wildness and hot brutality. In this extraordinary film, point of view is everything, truth is elusive and memory unreliable.
A character tells that "It's human to lie. Most of the time we can't even be honest with ourselves", and it is in the discrepancies that the essence of our humanity resides. Kurosawa invests the unknowability of the event with horror, suggesting that the three of them somehow chanced upon, or created, a black hole in human thought and communication, whose confusion and violence can never be clearly explained or remembered. Kurosawa implies that in the retelling a event, inevitably every man will make himself out to be the hero or villain of the story.
Film-makers have been using this concept for years, and the best of them , such as Christopher Nolan in Memento (2001), have used it as a inspiration rather than blueprint. But, despite the many inspirations, no one could quite duplicate the power and gnawing unease of this challenging film.
Rashomon - Imdb