A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
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