Rashômon (1950) | Akira Kurosawa’s celebrated drama continues to fire the imagination
Deservedly taking an honorary Oscar as the most outstanding foreign language film released in the US in 1951, the compelling Japanese drama, Rashômon, ranks among director Akira Kurosawa’s masterpieces. It was the film that brought the director acclaim, established actor Toshiro Mifune as a star, and showed Western audiences just what Japanese cinema was capable of.
In feudal Japan, a bandit (Mifune), a dead samurai (Masayuki Mori), his wife (Machiko Kyō), a woodcutter (Takashi Shimura) and a priest (Minoru Chiaki) give varying accounts of an ambush, rape and a murder. But is anyone telling the truth?
Unfurling his tale of violence and greed through different eyewitnesses presenting contradictory narratives, Kurosawa skilfully examines the nature of truth and experience (basically don’t believe anything you hear), while also turning multiple flashbacks into an art form. A visual feast for the eye and ear, with strong leanings towards minimalism and the experimental, and featuring commanding performances, this is story telling at its most masterful and a hugely influential cinema classic that begs revisiting.
The BFI 2015 Blu-ray release features the film restored in high definition, with the follow special features…
• New audio commentary by Kurosawa expert Stuart Galbraith IV
• Rashômon at 65 New 34-minute location documentary featuring interviews with former staff from the Daiei-Kyoto Studios
• John Boorman on Rashômon (6mins)
• Illustrated booklet