Stills must not be reproduced, copied or downloaded in any way. Hard copies of some images can be bought via the BFI Printstore and the complete collection can be accessed for commercial reuse via BFI Stills.
- RASHOMON Original
- IN THE WOODS Alternative
Cast & Credits
Based on the stories 'Rashomon' and 'In a Grove' by
“In more ways than one, Rashomon is like a vast distorting mirror or, better, a collection of prisms that reflect and refract reality.”
Donald Richie, The Films of Akira Kurosawa, 1984
The word ‘Rashomon’ has passed into the English language to signify a narrative told from various, unreliable viewpoints. In this case, the mystery relates to the murder of a samurai and the rape of his wife in 11th century Japan, events which are relayed in wildly differing versions by those present: the bandit, the treacherous wife, a passing woodcutter and the spirit of the dead samurai.
This radically non-linear structure, with its profound implications about the fallibility of perspective, impressed judges at the 1951 Venice Film Festival. They awarded Akira Kurosawa’s film the Golden Lion, helping to encourage a broader interest in Japanese film in the west. With its snaking bolero-like score and poetic use of dappled forest light, Rashomon is a work of enduring ambiguity.
Vastly influential on subsequent film and television, Kurosawa’s film was directly remade by Hollywood as the western The Outrage (1964), starring Paul Newman.