Unveiled at the Venice film fest [in August 1951], this caused a flurry in critical circles for its brilliance of conception, technique, acting and its theme of passion.
Set in 12th-century Japan, pic [based on two stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa] paints a fascinating story of a killing told through the eyes of the three protagonists and then by an eyewitness. Each one differs. A seedy bandit sees a Samurai warrior leading his comely wife through the forest. He overpowers the warrior and seduces the wife. It all ends in facesaving harikiri by the husband.
Direction is excellent. Shot completely outdoors, the camerawork is flawless. Toshiro Mifune gives a sterling performance as the vermin-ridden bandit. Machiko Kyo supplies a role of dramatic intensity as the wife. Masayuki Mori lends an impassive, glowering presence to the part of the husband. Lesser characters are good.
1951: Best Foreign Language Film