Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshir˘ Mifune, Machiko Ky˘, Masayuki Mori
Plot: In 12th century Japan, a samurai and his wife are attacked by the notorious bandit Tajomaru, and the samurai ends up dead. Tajomaru is captured shortly afterward and is put on trial, but his story and the wife's are so completely different that a psychic is brought in to allow the murdered man to give his own testimony. He tells yet another completely different story. Finally, a woodcutter who found the body reveals that he saw the whole thing, and his version is again completely different from the others.
During shooting, the cast approached Kurosawa en masse with the script and asked him, "What does it mean?" The answer Akira Kurosawa gave at that time and also in his biography is that Rashomon (1950) is a reflection of life, and life does not always have clear meanings.
A very early use of the "hand held" camera technique. This is seen when the camera follows the characters closely through the woods.
Often credited as the reason the Academy created the "Best Foreign Film" category.
This film is often given credit for the first time a camera was pointed directly at the sun.
In the downpour scenes showing the Rashomon Gate, Akira Kurosawa found that the rain in the background simply wouldn't show up against the light gray backdrop. To solve this problem, the crew ended up tinting the rain by pouring black ink into the tank of the rain machine. The ink is clearly visible on the Woodcutter's face just before the rain stops.
Even during high noon the parts of the forest that the crew needed to shoot in were still too dark. Rather than use a regular foil reflector, which did not bounce enough light, Akira Kurosawa and cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa opted to use a full-length mirror "borrowed" from Daiei's costume department. The crew bounced light from the mirror through leaves and trees to soften it and make it look more like natural sunlight. Miyagawa later called it the most successful lighting effect he had ever done.
In his autobiography, Akira Kurosawa recalled that one of the biggest problems his crew encountered while filming in the forest was that slugs kept dropping out of the trees onto their heads. The cast and crew had to constantly slather themselves with salt to keep the slugs off.
Akira Kurosawa asked Toshir˘ Mifune to model his character's movements after wildlife, particularly the lion. Kurosawa's vision of how a lion was supposed to move was heavily influenced by the wildlife documentary work of husband-and-wife team Martin E. Johnson and Osa Johnson.
This movie is known for its use of symbolic weather. Throughout most of it, there's heavy rain. The rain fades away by the optimistic ending when the weather becomes sunny.
While the film borrows the title and setting from Ry?nosuke Akutagawa's short story "Rash?mon", it is actually based on Akutagawa's short story "In a Grove", which provides the characters and plot.
There are only three settings in the film: Rash?mon gate, the woods and the courtyard. The gate and the courtyard are very simply constructed and the woodland is real. This is partly due to the low budget that Kurosawa got from Daiei.
Although it won two Japanese awards and performed well at the domestic box office, most Japanese critics did not like the film. When it received positive responses in the West, Japanese critics were baffled; some decided that it was only admired there because it was "exotic," others thought that it succeeded because it was more "Western" than most Japanese films.