Rashomon

Movie review by
David Gurney, Common Sense Media
Rashomon Movie Poster Image
Intense Kurosawa masterpiece about a rape and killing.
  • NR
  • 1951
  • 88 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

All characters are shown to have some level of sinister motivations.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Three stories center on the death of a man and the rape of his wife. With the exception of a monk, all the characters are unreliable to varying degrees, and the monk for much of the movie talks of his loss of faith in mankind. 

Violence

Sword fighting and a killing. The film revolves around a bandit on trial for raping a young woman. A man commits suicide. Talk of attempted suicide. 

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mention of trading in a sword in exchange for liquor. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rashomon is a 1950 film directed by Akira Kurosawa that is regarded by many as being one of his greatest films. This movie is a psychologically and morally complex tale of a trial to determine who is at fault for the murder of a man and the rape of a woman. The rape is not depicted on-screen but is discussed openly. The murder is rendered somewhat realistically, though without gratuitous bleeding or goriness. There is also a suicide by stabbing, as well as talk of attempted suicide. The intensity of the emotions depicted as each person gives his or her side of the events, along with the complexity of the themes of the movie, make this best for mature teens and older. 

User Reviews

Parent of a 16 year old Written bymooneym1 July 19, 2010

Shocking treatment of rape victim by all concerned.

The major problem with this movie is the assumption, shared by all the characters, that a woman who is raped becomes defiled by this, that she is no longer wort... Continue reading
Adult Written bythenoah February 17, 2013

Maybe the Greatest Film of All Time

This movie is simply AMAZING! It is appropriate for almost all ages, but I don't think kids under eleven will appreciate it. This movie is though provoking... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bymoviemogul April 9, 2008

An amazing movie...

I watched this movie on TCM one night, and all I can say is that it was incredible. If you are a teen or up, go watch this movie-- it comes highly reccommended.
Teen, 15 years old Written bywho3697cares June 3, 2009
The main flaw is director Akira Kurosawa's sentimentality. The philosophy behind the story would seem to be that all the characters are telling the truth,... Continue reading

What's the story?

In director Akira Kurosawa's RASHOMON, a man is murdered in the woods following the rape of his wife by a bandit. At the trial, the bandit, the wife, a medium channeling the murdered man, and a woodcutter who had been hiding in the woods all recount different versions of the story. The movie works to expose the near impossibility of finding absolute truth in the world rather than condemn any one. At the end, the woodcutter acts to redeem himself, punctuating the narrative with a sense of hope.

Is it any good?

Rashomon was the film that brought Akira Kurosawa, and many would say Japanese cinema, to international renown, and it's a true cinematic masterpiece. Kurosawa's direction is magnificent, structuring the film to clearly give each version of the story its own space while maintaining its connection with the other versions. Toshiro Mifune as the nearly spastic bandit is a pleasure to watch.

That said, the themes here are very mature, so it's best to share with teens who are mature enough to handle the material.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the potential fallibility of the legal system in relation to absolute truth. What factors do you think played a role in the credibility of one witness' account over another? Have you ever been in a situation where you heard two accounts of the same event? Which version did you believe? Why?

  • How is violence depicted in this movie? Was it necessary to the story, or could it have been simply mentioned by the different witnesses of the crimes committed? 

  • How do the different versions of the same event highlight the movie's central themes? 

Movie details

For kids who love drama and action

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