Rashomon (1950) Movie Poster

Trivia for Rashomon (1950)

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  • This film is often given credit for the first time a camera was pointed directly at the sun. In Akira Kurosawa's biography, he gives credit to his cinematographer for "inventing" it and himself for using it, but years later, during commentary that preceded the TV showing of the film, the head of the studio claimed credit. Kurosawa bitterly denied this claim.
  • The title "Rashomon" (or main city gate) has become a part of popular culture in the context of the "rashomon effect", which refers to when different people have very different perspectives of the same thing or event, much like as is seen in the proverbial tale of a group of blind men describing an elephant by touch - as a rope, a tree, etc. The actual story related in the film comes from a tale by Ryûnosuke Akutagawa, "In a Grove".
  • In the wife's vision, the music used was only available during post-production. Akira Kurosawa and his editor were amazed when they found that the music corresponded almost perfectly with the action on the screen and they didn't need to change the scene to match the music.
  • The title of the film has recently been added to the Oxford English Dictionary as describing "...resembling or suggestive of the film Rashomon, esp. in being characterized by multiple conflicting or differing ... interpretations."
  • In the downpour scenes showing the Rashomon Gate, Akira Kurosawa found that the rain in the background simply wouldn't show up against the light gray backdrop. To solve this problem, the crew ended up tinting the rain by pouring black ink into the tank of the rain machine. The ink is clearly visible on the Woodcutter's face just before the rain stops.
  • Often credited as the reason the Academy created the "Best Foreign Film" category.
  • Akira Kurosawa asked Toshirô Mifune to model his character's movements after wildlife, particularly the lion. Kurosawa's vision of how a lion was supposed to move was heavily influenced by the wildlife documentary work of husband-and-wife team Martin E. Johnson and Osa Johnson.
  • During shooting, the cast approached Kurosawa en masse with the script and asked him, "What does it mean?" The answer Akira Kurosawa gave at that time and also in his biography is that Rashomon is a reflection of life, and life does not always have clear meanings.
  • A very early use of the "hand-held" camera technique. This is seen when the camera follows the characters closely through the woods.
  • Even during high noon the parts of the forest that the crew needed to shoot in were still too dark. Rather than use a regular foil reflector, which did not bounce enough light, Akira Kurosawa and cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa opted to use a full-length mirror "borrowed" from Daiei's costume department. The crew bounced light from the mirror through leaves and trees to soften it and make it look more like natural sunlight. Miyagawa later called it the most successful lighting effect he had ever done.
  • In his autobiography, Akira Kurosawa recalled that one of the biggest problems his crew encountered while filming in the forest was that slugs kept dropping out of the trees onto their heads. The cast and crew had to constantly slather themselves with salt to keep the slugs off.
  • When the film was released internationally to rave reviews, many speculated that Akira Kurosawa was influenced by Citizen Kane (1941) in the element of flashbacks that ultimately provide conflicting accounts of events. However, Kurosawa didn't even see Orson Welles's film until several years after the release of 'Rashômon'.
  • The "Rashomon" sign from the gate was preserved and kept by Director of Photography Kazuo Miyagawa at his home until his death in 1999.
  • Named by director Daniel Petrie as his favorite film in an AFI poll.
  • The music used while Masako is telling her version of the story sounds quite similar to Maurice Ravel's 'Bolero' and it seems clearly inspired by that model.
  • Was chosen by Premiere magazine as one of the "100 Movies That Shook the World" in the October 1998 issue. The list ranked the most "daring movies ever made."
  • Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
  • The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
  • First Akira Kurosawa film to be nominated for an Oscar.
  • When Tajomaru is dragging the wife through the forest by the hand, Akira Kurosawa decided the wife couldn't run in her traditional sandals, so he gave Machiko Kyô a pair of sneakers to run in.
  • Tajômaru is the only character referred to by name in the film.
  • Numerous American TV shows - sitcoms, science fiction adventures, animal cartoons, etc. - have had a "Rashomon episode" where the same series of events is remembered differently by various characters.
  • Ranked number 4 non-English-speaking film in the critics' poll conducted by the BBC in 2018.
  • This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #138.
  • "Rasho" means "citadel". "Mon" means "gate". Rashomon means the front gate of Heijokyo (Nara City) or Heiankyo (Kyoto). During the Nara Era, the capital of Japan was Heijokyo, from 710 A.D. to 784 A.D. From the Heian Era to the Edo Era, Heiankyo was the capital, from 794 A.D. to 1869 A.D. "Kyo" means "capital", and "To" means "east". So, with this in mind, Kyoto means the great capital, while Tokyo means the eastern capital.


  • Director Trademark: [weather] This movie is known for its use of symbolic weather. Throughout most of it, there's heavy rain. The rain fades away by the optimistic ending when the weather becomes sunny.
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