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Rashômon
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Reviews & Ratings for
Rashomon More at IMDbPro »Rashômon (original title)

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

It is a deeply intelligent and complex but captivating and intriguing film at the same time.

7/10
Author: The-Eternity-of-Time
24 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A heinous crime and its aftermath are recalled from differing points of view. A priest, a woodcutter and another man are taking refuge from a rainstorm in the shell of a former gatehouse called Rashomon. 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 - which 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. Rashomon was a milestone in cinematic history, it is a masterpiece from a masterful storyteller. Who do you believe? The film gives you four different stories and lets you choose which one is the truth, it is like a puzzle to the viewer all during the film you are trying to make up your mind to whom is guilty. It is a deeply intelligent and complex but captivating and intriguing film at the same time. Rashomon is one of very films you must see in your lifetime.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

"This time, I may finally lose my faith in the human soul."

8/10
Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
23 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film has a lot in common with movies that turn out to be a dream in which the main character wakes up to realize that what just happened never occurred. I find those kinds of pictures less than satisfying because they seem to cop out of a final resolution to the story. "Rashomon" takes a somewhat similar approach, but instead of setting up a dream narrative, Kurosawa has his characters relate the circumstances of a murder from the perspective of four different observers. I can't say that that isn't a valid approach, but the problem I have is that the characters relating their stories don't seem to have credibility on their side. If I had to make a personal judgment, I'd say the woodcutter's appraisal of events seemed most valid because he didn't have a personal stake in the outcome of a murder investigation.

Looking individually at each of the players - the bandit Tajomaru (Toshiro Mifune) relates a tale that builds up his own self esteem - he valiantly fights the husband (Masayuki Mori), crossing swords with him twenty three times. The wife (Machiko Kyo) relating her version of events seems to be seeking atonement for her shame in being victimized by Tajomaru. The husband, telling his story through a medium after his death, seems willing to spare his wife the agony of betrayal and for suffering the shame of her rape. Finally, the woodcutter, who has nothing to gain by telling what he saw, except for the possible humiliation for not intervening because he was cowardly, was probably the closest to the truth about what happened. But we'll never know because the truth, which lies in the eye of the beholder, can potentially shift and change with each viewing of the film.

It will probably take some more viewings of the movie for me to gain a greater appreciation of it. As with "Seven Samurai", I find Kurosawa's pacing to be drawn out more than necessary; note the long time it took for the woodcutter to make his way to the scene of the crime in his version of the story. I'm also put off by the histrionics of a character like Tojomaru, who's over the top and manic delivery make him seem out of control. Granted, these are matters of preference with me, so I look at them somewhat like the players in the film who have their own biases in telling their story.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

They all might be genuinely thinking to themselves that they're telling the truth

8/10
Author: oyunbileg-ch from Tokyo
6 October 2013

There's a scientific study called "Rashomon Effect". You could say this film is that good, plus given the circumstances of the making in 1950s. Alas the film work alone deserves the spotlight.

We all can think of our own "Rashomon" experiences from our lives. People can be believing in a same event in different ways. They would tell similar yet different stories.

This might sound a cliché, but sometimes there can be no absolute truth of one thing. Things could happen to have its different perspectives subjectively. So it leads to a problem that if we can blame someone that he/she lied because another person is telling differently. They all might be genuinely thinking to themselves that they're telling the truth.

Aside the well known quotes of this film, I also liked the quote: " ... I even heard that the demon living here in Rashomon fled in fear of the ferocity of man."

By the way, Homer Simpson says he liked Rashomon. Although he remembers it differently.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Top notch!

10/10
Author: Mahadevan V from India
17 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

You just need to watch Rashomon to understand why Akira Kurosawa is considered one of the finest directors in world cinema. For most of the viewers, it is an unsolved crime told in an interesting yet different fashion, and he/she can try to arrange the puzzles to form a solution. For movie freaks, it is much more than that; in addition to being a fine work of art, it conveys beautifully a simple message through a complex movie.

One can easily gather from the movie, that the main idea conveyed was that there is no absolute truth. We see 4 different people narrating a story, in completely different ways. While each of them tells their version of the story, the idea expressed is simply how much one's perspective can distort reality. Or in the deeper sense, that there is no absolute reality. Reality is relative. We could relate it to the story of the blind men and an elephant, where 6 different blind men touch different parts of an elephant and each of them assume, interpret and argue that elephant looks like the part they touched.

Now, probably to what was mainly conveyed through the movie - the rationale behind the different stories. None of them were lying to protect themselves, as one can notice from the bandit's and the lady's story, they say they might have killed the samurai. Obviously, protection from law is not what mattered. In the bandit's story, he glorified himself; he portrayed himself as a brave and a great warrior, who easily lures the lady. In the lady's story, she portrayed herself as a helpless victim, trying to stand in dignity. In the samurai's version, he was portrayed as being noble, brave, and the best thing he could do was committing suicide. In the woodcutter's version, he is portraying each of the 3 characters equally culpable, which makes his act of stealing the dagger a trivial one. Even though, we tend to go with the woodcutter's story because he is a neutral person, we cannot believe his as well, as he was the only person who admitted that he was lying (earlier).

In each of the version, we see that the person is glorifying themselves. It is not protection from law that mattered, but protecting one's own ego. In every one's story, we see the story-teller polishing his character so as to suit his ego. It portrays the insecurity in humans, the fact that no humans can survive without lying to themselves and creating a make-belief world where they seem to be a better person than they actually are. A simple message that no human is completely honest with himself! Other than the message conveyed in the movie, the way in which the movie unfolds, the way the characters are molded, the way the 3 characters differ in the different versions, the acting, the sensuality of the woman, all plays a great role in shaping the movie into a masterpiece. For instance, the initial scene in which the woodcutter walks through the forest till he finds the dead body is breathtaking. We walk with him, and when he stands still seeing the body, we also freeze. Even such a trivial scene, shot with amazing beauty and intelligence, is what makes Kurosawa one among the best! Usually, when a movie ends without a climax, or when no solutions are provided to the crime, I end up a bit frustrated (exception being Nolan's inception). Have to admit though, this one left me fascinated!

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

What is truth?

10/10
Author: Artimidor Federkiel from Austria
2 September 2012

Rainy day? Need something to ponder upon? Then take a seat at one of the stairs of the Rashomon gate and listen to a particularly strange murder mystery. But be aware upfront that this is not about the culprit, as you'll hear several confessions, but all won't match. Who's lying? Why? Is it all intentional? Or due to different perceptions? Are people cheating on themselves as well? For their own good, for the sake of accepting reality, or because they are adhering to a principle they consider superior? What is real? What is true? Is it possible at all to understand? Thus are the questions posed under the Rashomon. But that we cannot grasp it is exactly the point.

Kurosawa's version of Akutagawa's tale "In a Bomboo Grove" doesn't shun from irritating the audience by presenting various accounts of the same story without providing a satisfying resolution. With the abandoning of the conventional, objective narrative form he opened the door to distortions of reality shown on screen, broadening the horizons of what a camera can convey, adding another level of sophistication to the medium. Dismissed by the studio he was working for as incomprehensible, Kurosawa's "Rashomon" however hit the western film world like a bomb. With the prizes it won it would become the gateway that opened Japanese cinema to the rest of the world and establish Kurosawa as a director to reckon with. Yet it is not only the fresh idea that makes "Rashomon" different - music and sound undoubtedly are highly effective, but the exceptionally strong point of the film is that it offers flawless cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa, who would later also shoot Mizogushi's appraised pearls "Sansho the Bailiff" and "Ugetsu". And of course "Rashomon" already has Kurosawa's future key player Toshiro Mifune as the bandit, who borrows with his extreme expressions from the silent era, and this intensity of acting makes a film about reality in question even more stirring. Good cinema should ask questions, and rarely it is done as masterful as here.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

How to view "Rashomon"

10/10
Author: quietconstance from Essex, Vermont
20 January 2012

Many people have written about "Rashomon" and debated the plot, what "really" happened, who was telling the truth, whether the complete truth is ever told, etc. I think it's possible to state an uncontradictory account of the actual event (which I don't want to describe in detail, as I want to avoid writing a spoiler). The thing to ask yourself, while watching the film,is this: What is the motivation of each character? Each story reveals that person's deepest fear. In the story each person tells, they are trying to protect the one thing they are most afraid of losing. Given this perspective, I find the film is actually quite understandable and makes a lot of sense. One other comment I'd like to make is that Kurosawa-san once said, "Women are not my specialty." I beg to differ! The wife's emotion is so very real, certainly just as real as the men's. I could name my favorite women characters in his other films too...but that might wander outside the scope of this review.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

seeing isn't always believing

Author: Lee Eisenberg (lee.eisenberg.pdx@gmail.com) from Portland, Oregon, USA
15 November 2011

Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon" is not a whodunit at all. The testimony from each of the witnesses deliberately presents contradictory versions of the events. In fact, the interrogations are possibly the most fascinating scenes in the movie: we see the witnesses describing what they saw (or at least what they claim to have seen), but we don't see the interrogators. It's as if WE are the interrogators. By hearing these different stories, we have to reconsider how sure we can be about what we think we know. Not to mention Kurosawa's use of the forest to create a mysterious setting.

This is beyond an incredible movie. As with "Seven Samurai" a few years later, Kurosawa knows how to do everything perfectly: direction, cinematography, the works. Of course, probably the most important point is what the one character says noting that we make up stories to help us cope with life. All too true. A masterpiece.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Great film with amazing influence

8/10
Author: Terrell Howell (KnightsofNi11) from United States
21 July 2010

Rashômon is one of legendary director Akira Kurosawa's (Seven Samurai, Yojimbo) great works of art. It is a dark and cynical outlook on mankind and it's morality and integrity. It is the story of the murder of a man and the rape of his wife, told from four different perspectives. Each perspective contradicts the others and it is left to the audience's interpretation as to who told the truth. Rashômon was the first film to utilize the telling of the same story from different perspectives and that technique has now become a staple in creative filmmaking. It is used in many different films such as Vantage Point (2008), The Usual Suspects (1995), and even the animated film Hoodwinked! (2005). It is for this reason that you absolutely cannot say that Rashômon is not an influential film.

Akira Kurosawa is highly acclaimed to be one of the greatest directors who ever lived, and his skills in cinematography and art direction never fail to amaze. Rashômon is no exception. It is beautifully shot in its three settings the entire movie takes place in. It is this intelligent and immaculate direction which captivates and awes you, as you try and decipher the mystery taking place. The story is not complex on the surface but it is the intriguing themes and motifs that Kurosawa explores that make Rashômon an experience that makes you think. Nothing in the film is set straight and it is all up to viewer interpretation.

Rashômon is an excelling work of art, yet a few things must be taken into account to truly understand where the film comes from. It was made in 1950's Japan, a very different time with a very different culture. The filming and acting techniques are noticeably different than modern filmmaking is used to. At times the acting seems very overdone and melodramatic, but you have to take into account the time period. Also the portrayal of women in this film could be looked upon sorely, but this is likely a cultural thing which can't be understood without the proper research. These "issues" are hardly minor gripes and can't really be considered legitimate thing to complain about.

Rashômon is influential filmmaking at it's best. What Kurosawa explores in this film are things that will stand the test of time and make Rashômon a classic film by a legendary director.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

- Most of the time, we can not be too honest with ourselves

9/10
Author: Bones Eijnar (namriggs@hotmail.com) from Trondheim, Norway
14 December 2009

Master director Akira Kurosawa released his classic RASHOMON in 1950, and became forever Asian cinema's number one represent. It's a mystery-tale playing like a crime-novel told through five different point-of-views and outplaying on three locations (the Rashomon-house, in the forest, and in court), and the film shows the relativity of truth. The scenes from inside the court involves the viewer, all of the characters are placed directly in front of the camera, addressing themselves - it's like we're the jury, deciding what to believe in, and not. Shot in B&W Kurosawa uses the lighting in the forest in interesting ways, the sunlight that shines through the treetops adverts to the hazy story - faces and situations are partly covered in shadow, and light up by sun. What actually happened, and what's fictitious? And Kurosawa uses many techniques to unveil the plot; the dreamy score, the bandit-character (Toshiro Mifune) is a raucous, beastly troublemaker with farcical acrobatics, long sequences with no sound shows Kurosawa's love for the silent era, the non-linear narrative and the uplifting climax. RASHOMON shows different versions of reality, and Kurosawa pioneered using the camera subjectively.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Something Special Was On Its Way

9/10
Author: Hitchcoc from United States
3 September 2009

This is a fascinating film. It is one that is based on multiple accounts of an event that takes place in a forest in Japan. A man is traveling with his young wife when they are set on by a bandit (Toshiro Mifume). The man is killed and the woman escapes after being raped by the bandit. The story then becomes a series of four accounts of the events of that day. Each of the participants, including the murdered man gets to describe what took place. It is a story about the sorry state of humanity, but it is more about the Japanese culture. What takes place is hard for a Westerner to really comprehend. Given those circumstances, death, rather than shame, becomes a central issue in the film. Once the woman is raped, her status as a human being is diminished tremendously. She becomes the baggage of the man who wants her. It is totally captivating to see each of the figures tell his or her story. This technique has been used in many TV shows and movies (I remember a show called Petrocelli, years ago where it was the lifeblood of the show), but nowhere is it done better. There is a very positive ending as well where a sense of redemption is left with the viewer.

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