Based on the stories, 'Roshomon' and 'In a Grove' by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, this is a masterpiece by the legendary Akira Kurosawa.
Highly regarded for its philosophical undertones and its exploration of the unfathomable human psyche, 'Roshomon' is a brilliantly spun riddle. It is about the four people, who give four different versions of the testimonies at the court, on the recently occurred crime.
The story is set in ancient Japan, where three passers-by seek shelter from intense rain in the ruined temple called Roshomon. Two of the witnesses, a dumbfounded woodcutter (Takashi Shimura) and a priest (Minoru Chiaki), are narrating the crime trial to the commoner. More than the crime, they are astonished to witness the testimonies of three people, connected with the crime, which shatters their faith in humanity.
A man (Masayuki Mori) has been murdered, and his wife (Machiko Kyo) was allegedly raped, while they were traveling in the woods. A notorious bandit (Toshiro Mifune) has been arrested, regarding this despicable act. As the trial starts, the fabricated lies resurface over truth. According to the bandit, he and the man waged a war after the rape, resulting in the man's death.
But the woman's version is that she was rejected by her husband, after being raped. So, with uncontrollable grief, she killed him. However, the dead man testifies, through the medium, that the bandit insisted to marry the woman after the rape, but the woman demanded the bandit should kill her husband first. The angry bandit left the place and the guilty-conscious man committed suicide. According to the woodcutter, the woman had manipulated the two men, who were finally pushed to gruesome fight that lead to the man's death.
All these testimonies are believably told to the viewers, making them the judges of this baffling trial… At Oscars, the board of governors voted 'Roshomon' as the most outstanding foreign language film released in the US in 1951. This was an enormously challenging task for the artistes— who had to enact in 3 different ways for the same story– and they excel. Toshiro Mifune attained worldwide fame for enacting the clumsy bandit's role with insurmountable passion.
'Roshomon' is not about analyzing the chronological facts or its relevance. It focuses on, how perspective distorts reality and makes the absolute truth unknowable. Eventually, this movie has been touted as the classic case study for the film students, connoisseurs and movie critics, all over the world.
This simple-looking tale, with its complex web of deceptive elements, remains as the finest cinematic riddle unsolved!