In Medieval Japan, an elderly warlord retires, handing over his empire to his three sons. However, he vastly underestimates how the new-found power will corrupt them and cause them to turn on each other...and him.
A priest, a woodcutter and another man are taking refuge from a rainstorm in the shell of a former gatehouse called Rashômon. The priest and the woodcutter are recounting the story of a murdered samurai whose body the woodcutter discovered three days earlier in a forest grove. Both were summoned to testify at the murder trial, the priest who ran into the samurai and his wife traveling through the forest just before the murder occurred. Three other people who testified at the trial are supposedly the only direct witnesses: a notorious bandit named Tajômaru, who allegedly murdered the samurai and raped his wife; the white veil cloaked wife of the samurai; and the samurai himself who testifies through the use of a medium. The three tell a similarly structured story - that Tajômaru kidnapped and bound the samurai so that he could rape the wife - but which ultimately contradict each other, the motivations and the actual killing being what differ. The woodcutter reveals at Rashômon that he ... Written by
[Presenting his sword to the husband]
Here, take it. Look at it. Near here I found this old tomb with things like this in it. I broke it open and inside I found swords, daggers, mirrors... I buried them all here in the woods and no one but me knows where. But if you're interested I might sell some of them to you cheap.
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Kurosawa tells a story four times through different characters. The characters tell the story different four times. In flash-backs, all as the characters tell them, we see the stories. Are they lying, are they all telling their own truth or is there someone who tells THE truth? The way this is handled by Kurosawa is absolutely masterful.
Of course, his direction is great. Together with cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa they do a tremendous job with the atmosphere in the woods. With perfect light angles it looks beautiful.
A real Japanese classic.
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