The more I watch and re-watch Kurosawa's films, the more I am sure that he will be remembered as the greatest director of the 20th century. Although I prefer "Ran" and "The Seven Samurai" for reasons of personal taste, I don't think I would argue very much with anyone who proposed that "Rashomon" was his best film. Made in 1950, it is so unusual and so far ahead of it's time that it takes your breath away. The story itself deserves a mention: A husband & wife travelling through woods are attacked by a thief, who ties up the husband and rapes the wife. This is as much of the story as we can be sure of. The husband ends up dead of a stab wound. How did he die? Who was responsible? Each of the three give their accounts before a court (the dead husband through a medium!), and each account is entirely different. A woodcutter who witnessed the events gives a fourth, entirely different, account. Each flashback is an absolute gem in itself, and lives long in the mind. Toshiro Mifune as the thief exudes more raw masculinity and charisma that I think I have ever seen in ANY movie, and creates a totally believeable character. Machiko Kyo as the wife is superb in what are essentially four different roles, her own version being the highlight. The husband's character is the least well developed, but since he spends a lot of the time either tied up or dead, that's not really surprising. Because the viewer knows that each flashback is highly personal to the teller, a vast amount of brainpower and concentration are required if you are going to try to work out what actually DID happen. Alternatively, watch the film twice back-to-back, once for the visuals and acting, and once for the detective work and philosophical implications. My favourite shot in the movie is one which starts with the husband and wife kneeling, facing each other, a view of the wife over the shoulder of the husband; the camera then moves round to the side and simultaneously zooms in on the wife's profile; then pulls back behind the wife, ending with a view of the husband's face over the shoulder of the wife - a mirror image of the initial shot in the sequence. Absolutely awesome! And dating from 1950! Unbelievable! I normally try to keep my reviews a LOT shorter than this, but I make no apologies in this case. Indeed, there are lots of other points I would like to make (I haven't even mentioned the central importance of the dagger, or the relevance of the Rashomon gate itself). I could go on and on and on... however, a better use of your time would be to seek out and watch this film...NOW!
Subtitles: English, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese