Akira Kurosawa's 1951 film won the grand prize at the Venice film festival, introducing Kurosawa (and through him the Japanese film) to most of the Western world. Set mainly in 12th-century Kyoto, the film, based on a short story by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, offers the radically different eyewitness accounts of four people (including a dead man) about a violent incident involving ambush, rape, and murder in a forest. The philosophically subversive premise of the story, at least by implication, is that all four narrators are telling the truth; Kurosawa's much more sentimental conclusion, made even worse by a hokey finale, is that everyone lies. This serious limitation aside, the film is still an impressive piece of work, visually and rhythmically masterful. With Toshiro Mifune (as the bandit) and Machiko Kyo. In Japanese with subtitles. 88 min.
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