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About Rashomon

Rashomon came into the world’s consciousness in 1951 when legendary director Akira Kurosawa created the film that spread the influence of Japanese cinema into the western world. The screenplay, adapted by Kurosawa, was based on two short stories, In The Grove and Rashomon, written in the early 1900s by Japanese author Ryunosuke Akutagawa.
Despite the similar title, Akutagawa’s Rashomon was not Kurosawa’s main influence for the plot of his film. The story, which tells the tale a thief who is scared into honesty after an encounter with a ghoul, did influence the film in both its mood and setting. The title refers to Kyoto’s (Japan’s capital during its feudal period) largest gatehouse, which is a setting for both this story and Kirosawa’s stunning motion picture.

In the Grove takes readers on a journey similar to that of the Rashomon film, depicting 4 different accounts of a rape and murder/suicide. It is perhaps the first literary example of a singular event being told through its many subjective truths. Leaving a lasting impression on the illusion of indisputable fact and the shortcomings of memory while searching for an absolute truth, the story raises larger questions about one’s inability to see outside their own vantage point and a world without an absolute or concrete reality.

The lasting influence of the story can be found throughout Western culture today. From the variety of remakes and new interpretations, most notably the Paul Newman western The Outrage, even audiences unfamiliar with the original film and story have come to understand the themes so aptly covered in the masterpiece.