Etymology and a phrase developed after movie release
The name of the film refers to the enormous, former city gate "between modern day Kyoto and Nara", on Suzaka Avenue's end to the South. The term Rashomon effect refers to real-world situations in which multiple eye-witness testimonies of an event contain conflicting information.
Although it won two Japanese awards and performed well at the domestic box office, most Japanese critics did not like the film. When it received positive responses in the West, Japanese critics were baffled; some decided that it was only admired there because it was "exotic," others thought that it succeeded because it was more "Western" than most Japanese films.
In a collection of interpretations of Rashomon, Donald Richie writes that "the confines of 'Japanese' thought could not contain the director, who thereby joined the world at large". He also quotes Kurosawa criticizing the way the "Japanese think too little of our own [Japanese] things".
Influence outside Japan
The film appeared at the 1951 Venice Film Festival at the behest of an Italian language teacher, Giuliana Stramigioli, who had recommended it to Italian film promotion agency Unitalia Film seeking a Japanese film to screen at the festival. However, Daiei Motion Picture Company (a producer of popular features at the time) and the Japanese government had disagreed with the choice of Kurosawa's work on the grounds that it was "not [representative enough] of the Japanese movie industry" and felt that a work of Yasujirō Ozu would have been more illustrative of excellence in Japanese cinema. Despite these reservations, the film was screened at the festival and won both the Italian Critics Award and the Golden Lion award—introducing western audiences, including western directors, more noticeably to both Kurosawa's films and techniques, such as shooting directly into the sun and using mirrors to reflect sunlight onto the actor's faces.
The film was released in the United States on December 26, 1951, by RKO Radio Pictures in both subtitled and dubbed versions, and it won an Academy Honorary Award in 1952 for being "the most outstanding foreign language film released in the United States during 1951" (the current Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film wasn't introduced until 1956). Rashomon was also one of the films which inspired the 1954 Indian film Andha Naal.[a]