Akira Kurosawa's classic examination of, as Pauline Kael put it, "the relativism, the unknowability of truth" and the mutability of human nature, won the Golden Lion at the 1951 Venice Film Festival and the Best Foreign… More Akira Kurosawa's classic examination of, as Pauline Kael put it, "the relativism, the unknowability of truth" and the mutability of human nature, won the Golden Lion at the 1951 Venice Film Festival and the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award of 1952. It also opened the western market to Japanese films and made international stars out of Toshiro Mifune and Machiko Kyo. Set in 11th-century Japan, the film examines a brutal rape and murder from four different perspectives. Three men have taken refuge from a deluge under the ruins of the ancient Rashomon Gate. A priest (Minoru Chiaki) relates the trial he witnessed involving the rape of Masago (Machiko Kyo) and the murder of her samurai husband Takehiro (Masayuki Mori). As the priest tells the story, the rape is seen from the perspectives of Masago, the channeled ghost of Takehiro, and a bandit named Tajomaru (Toshiro Mifune). Tajomaru's version has the bandit coming upon Takehiro and Masago in a forest, where he is so smitten with the beauty of Masago that he restrains her husband and rapes her. Masago is distraught at the rape and decides that since no two men should know of the rape, she arranges for a duel between Takehiro and Tajomaru, resulting in the death of her husband. In Masago's version, she reveals how repulsed her husband was by her rape. Continually humiliating her with insults, Masago kills him. In Takehiro's version, rendered through a medium, Masago, after the rape, begs Tajomaru to kill her husband. Tajomaru refuses and leaves and Masago follows after him. Takehiro, now alone, kills himself. Finally, a woodcutter (Takashi Shimura), who has listened to the tales of the priest, reveals that he has witnessed the events and relate his own, entirely different version, of the rape and murder.
Consensus: One of legendary director Akira Kurosawa's most acclaimed films, Rashomon features an innovative narrative structure, brilliant acting, and a thoughtful exploration of reality versus perception.