It’s truly a breathtaking work. I’m still hard-pressed to find a movie that even comes close to matching the complexity created out of such a simple incident.
Kurosawa stands as my favorite director. His body of work, though not as polished as I would say Kubrick’s attained, reached depths that I don’t believe I’ve seen anywhere else.
To be sure, the performances of Shimura and Mifune elevate every other aspect of many of his films. I especially enjoy movies that emphasize their performances together. For more of those, I might suggest checking out Seven Samurai and Drunken Angel.
It was on TV at some ungodly hour and I asked my father to record it. He and Mom decided to watch it with me, basically to see what the big deal was about. It was in Japanese, with English subtitles which I translated into Spanish.
At one point, spoilered for those who haven’t seen the movie, my father said
[spoiler]“What about the dead man’s version? We’re missing the dead man’s version!”
It wasn’t the next version to come up, but it does, indeed, eventually come up. At that point we had to stop the video until we could stop laughing.[/spoiler]
Rashomon was later turned into a stage play (which I’ve never seen) and a Western(as other Kurasawa films were). It was The Outrage, and it starred a wonderfully weird cast – William Shatner, Howard da Silva (Ben Franklin!), Edward G. Robinson (!), Clair Bloom, and Paul Newman as a Mexican (!!) – the Toshiro Mifune role. I’d dearly like to see it.
If you can, get hold of the Grove Press edition of the script =-it contains the tw stories by Akutagawa that inspired the film, along with some very perceptive essays. And a look at The Outrage.