LONG BEFORE THE great actor-director collaborations of De Niro and Scorsese or Depp and Burton, there was Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune—the Japanese director and muse whose 16 films would endear Western audiences to Japanese cinema and inspire the likes of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Screening this month at SIFF Cinema is their breakthrough film, the award-winning 1950 crime masterpiece Rashomon. In flashback, four witnesses offer four differing accounts to tell the story of a man murdered and his wife raped by a bandit (Mifune). “Human beings are unable to be honest with themselves,” Kurosawa wrote in his memoir, Something Like an Autobiography. “They cannot talk about themselves without embellishing.” Nearly 60 years after its release, Rashomon ’s ambiguous ending still prompts discussion on the relativity of truth. Decide for yourself if Mifune, with his leading-man looks, is actually the villain. If you can.

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