Critics 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.



Total Count: 53


Audience Score

User Ratings: 48,035
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Movie Info

This landmark Japanese masterpiece is Akira Kurosawa's cinematic examination of the subjective nature of truth. In feudal Japan, three men sheltering from a storm discuss an incident where a bandit raped a woman whose husband then somehow died. The film's innovative narrative structure recounts that incident from four differing viewpoints.


Critic Reviews for Rashômon

All Critics (53) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (52) | Rotten (1)

Audience Reviews for Rashômon

  • Nov 13, 2018
    A landmark film with endless interpretations and analyses, so Iâ(TM)ll try my best not to prattle on. There is a good dose of cynicism in Rashomon, with human nature shown to be selfish and for people to lie, or perhaps more delicately, to distort the truth through the lens of their own perception. A couple of serious crimes have been committed in the forest, and whatâ(TM)s happened is told from four different perspectives. Common to all is that a samurai and his wife were travelling through the woods, and then set upon by a bandit (the incomparable Toshiro Mifune). He ties up the samurai and rapes his wife in front of him, and afterwards the samurai is found dead. Itâ(TM)s a grim, awful crime, and worse yet, because of the culture and the period, the rape is viewed with elements of dishonor and shame in the woman. Beyond that, the truth is elusive, and once we see that the flashbacks vary in their accounting, we realize it may be difficult to arrive at what actually happened. In the banditâ(TM)s account, he puts himself in the best possible light. The woman fights courageously with a dagger before succumbing to him, but then grasps him in her arms when he assaults her, indicating consent in the end. She then tells the bandit that because of the shame, either he or her husband must die, urging them to fight to the death, which they do valorously. The lens here is clearly the banditâ(TM)s masculinity, perhaps what is most important to him. In the womanâ(TM)s account, after sheâ(TM)s raped and the bandit leaves, all she can see are her husbandâ(TM)s eyes, boring in to her own. She feels guilty, horribly guilty, and faints near him with the dagger in her hand. When she comes to, her husband is dead, and she attempts suicide multiple times but fails. In her case, the lens is one emphasizing her feeling of shame, as painful as that is for us to see. In the samuraiâ(TM)s account, cleverly told through a medium, after the rape, his wife is about to leave with the bandit, when she asks him to kill her husband. The bandit is shocked by the request, and asks the samurai if he wants to kill the woman, or let her go. Because of that honorable action, heâ(TM)s willing to pardon the bandit. The woman flees, and after the bandit releases the samurai, the samurai commits suicide. In this case, the lens emphasizes an honor code, and puts more control of what must have been a helpless and humiliating situation back in the hands of the samurai. This is where the 1922 short story â~In a Groveâ(TM) from Ryunosuke Akutagawa ends, and I find it fascinating that Kurosawa added the woodcutterâ(TM)s account (beyond him simply finding the body). In this version, after the rape, the bandit begs the woman to marry him, but she refuses and releases the samurai. Instead of an epic battle for her hand, the two are both cowardly, only fighting when she spurs them on, and then with more fear than skill. Itâ(TM)s very tempting to think that this must represent the closest thing to truth, as itâ(TM)s told from an outside observerâ(TM)s perspective, contains elements of the otherâ(TM)s stories, and shows no one in a flattering light. However even it has discrepancies, casting doubt over it, and thus, the truth is ever elusive. If you think about it, each of the first three stories has an underlying misogyny. In the first, the woman says no, but given enough force, eventually says yes. In the second, she essentially feels guilty for having been raped. In the third, while the samurai and even the bandit display honor, her shame is so great that she requests her husband be murdered. Perhaps there is some redemption in the woodcutterâ(TM)s story when she criticizes her husband for not protecting her in the first place. The other aspects that Kurosawa added relative to the original story was the setting at â~Rashomonâ(TM), which was the largest gate in Kyoto, the discussion at the gate throughout the narrative, and the ending sequence with the baby. Akutagawa had also written a short story called â~Rashomonâ(TM), which is published today along with â~In a Groveâ(TM) and others in a slim volume, and Kurosawa took this setting and the title from the other story. The gate had fallen into disrepair and was a hide-out for thieves as well as a place to abandon bodies, and as the rain pours down, we feel the wretchedness of the human condition. In providing the ending sequence though, Kurosawa seems to give us an answer to the central question posed by the film: how can anything be accomplished when eyewitnesses canâ(TM)t even agree on the simple truth of past events, and people are so selfish, driven by their own egos? Itâ(TM)s through mercy and kindness, acts which transcend misunderstanding.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 20, 2013
    Unlike the numerous copycats its narrative has inspired, "Rashomon" isn't a standard mystery or thriller. Its a meditation on human morality by Kurosawa and a thought provoking one at that. Its also beautifully shot and visually inventive.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 17, 2012
    I will hold off from a full review until a second viewing becaus I feel like I'm missing something.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Aug 08, 2012
    Don't really need to say much about 'Rashomon', the films it has inspired speak for it enough already. A masterfully made classic, with an intersting plot and ideologies, without 'Rashomon' I'm more then certain that many of people's favourite contemporary favourite films - like 'Resevoir Dogs' - wouldn't exist.
    Cameron S Super Reviewer

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