One of the most important films ever made, Akira Kurosawa redefines narrative storytelling on screen with a classic tale told unclassically.
“Since its debut in 1950, the classic Akira Kurosawa film Rashomon has become a shorthand for the lie of objective truth,” wrote Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Wesley Morris. “What you see, basically, depends on where you stand.” That, in many ways, quite succinctly summarises what’s so brilliant about the film, which is considered alongside Seven Samurai (1954) as one of Kurosawa’s great masterpieces. Bending the conventions of then linear storytelling in cinema, we cut from the present to the past as the murder of a Samurai and the assault of his wife is recounted. Yet each person in the story has a different version of events, introducing the concept of the unreliable narrative and the idea that the truth depends on the teller.
Rashomon swept the world following its release, winning the Gold Lion at the Venice International Film Festival and an honorary Academy Award in 1952 (a move which also pushed the creation of the Best Foreign Language Film category a few short years later). Its impact on film as a medium and filmmakers individually is mindboggling, with everything from the Rashomon Effect to ground-breaking editing going on to shape moviemaking from the day of its release onwards.
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