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Rashōmon (1950)


“Rashōmon” is a 1950 Japanese Jidaigeki/crime drama/psychological thriller film set in Heian period (the end of the 8th century to the late 12th century).

It depicts the murder of a samurai with the theme of conflict between human egoism and desire to believe human goodness.

The plot of the story is based on Ryūnosuke Akutagawa’s short story “In a Grove” (1922), and the scene setting and several episodes are based on Akutagawa’s another short story “Rashōmon” (1915).

Directed by Akira Kurosawa. 88 minutes.


In the capital city of Kyō devastated by war, plague, and disaster. A servant (Kichijiro Ueda) runs into the Rashōmon gate to shelter from the rain, and encounters a woodcutter (Takashi Shimura) and a priest (Minoru Chiaki).

The woodcutter and the priest tell the servant the story of a strange murder trial, in which they appeared in court as witnesses.

A bandit Tajōmaru (Toshiro Mifune) was arrested on charges of attacking a samurai named Takehiro Kanazawa (Masayuki Mori) and his wife Masago (Machiko Kyō) in the mountains, raping the wife, and murdering the samurai.

Tajōmaru and Masago are summoned to court and testify about the case, and then a medium raises the spirit of Kanazawa, and she testifies from Kanazawa’s viewpoint, but their testimonies are inconsistent with one another.


The high-contrast black-and-white images by director of photography Kazuo Miyagawa are extremely beautiful.

The film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1951, and an Academy Honorary Award at the U.S. Academy Awards in 1952.

In 2008, the film was digitally restored by Kadokawa Pictures in cooperation with the U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the film center of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

Rashomon Trailer (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)