Directed by Anne Redlin
The film depicts the rape of a woman and the murder of her samurai husband, through the widely differing accounts of four witnesses, including the bandit/rapist, the wife, the dead man speaking through a medium, and lastly the narrator, the one witness that seems the most objective and least biased. While the stories are mutually contradictory only the final version is unmotivated by other factors. Accepting the final version as the truth (the now common technique of film and TV of only explaining the truth last was not a universal approach at that time) explains why in each other version “the truth” was worse than admitting to the killing, and it is precisely this assessment which gives the film its power, and this theme which is echoed in other works.
The story unfolds in flashback as the four characters—the bandit Taj?maru, the samurai’s wife, the murdered samurai, and the nameless woodcutter —recount the events of one afternoon in a grove. The first three versions are told by the priest, who was present at the trial as a witness, having bumped into the couple on the road just prior to the events. Each of these versions has a response of “lies” from the woodcutter. The final version comes direct from the woodcutter, as the only witness (but he did not admit this to the court). All versions are told to a ribald commoner as they wait out a rainstorm in a ruined gatehouse identified by a sign as Rasho-mon.