Three travellers shelter from the rain at abandoned Rashomon gate and recount the events of a murder trial they have just witnessed.
Akira Kurosawa’s stunningly clever script is years ahead of it’s time, tackling subjects as diverse and profound as the nature of truth, self image, gender politics, psychology and the “butterfly effect” – a full four decades before chaos theory was recognised by the mainstream. As the same story is told from four different perspectives, it becomes obvious how the “facts” can never be entirely objective; even the so-called impartial witness has a hidden agenda when recounting what actually happened. As such it can be seen as a direct influence on the likes of Jackie Brown, Memento and The Usual Suspects and everything in between. Kurosawa’s fantastic sense of composition is as ever in evidence as each shot resembles a beautifully framed photograph and the performances are all top notch as each retelling of the story gives each character a slightly different personality, especially Toshiro Mifune’s melodramatic and heroic “battle” that bears little resemblance to the actual events. I found the storyteller’s opportunity for redemption at the end a little convenient, but this is a comparatively minor point.
Another classic from one of the true greats of cinema.