The film Rashomon is amazingly simple yet deceptively complex. The central tale details the rape of a woman and the murder of a man, possibly by a bandit. It is presented entirely in flashbacks from the perspectives of four narrators. One of the men, a woodcutter, was a witness to the events, and, with the help of a priest, he puzzles over what really happened, and what such a horrible occurrence says about human nature. The framing of the movie occurs at Kyoto’s crumbling Rashomon gate, where several people seek shelter from a torrential downpour and discuss the recent crime. The framing of the story around the personal versions of the rape and the death add depth to the story by effectively providing viewers with an active barrier which separates the different versions of the crime.
The film Rashomon opens with three men sitting under Rashomon gate. This is the beginning of the films framing. It provides the viewer with an establishing shot from which the director, Akira Kurosawa, launches a series of flashbacks. Throughout the film four different accounts of the crime are told by the four witnesses. The wife, the husband, the bandit and the woodcutter all give their accounts of the same event. Each of the four stories is separated by a returning shot to the four men at Rashomon gate. This is quite possibly the only way a story like this can be told. With out the framing there would be no way to tie the four accounts together into a flowing storyline. The audience would be confused by the seemingly random variations in the accounts and thus would not be able to comprehend the true meaning behind the film. .
The location of the framing shots is also essential to the film because it provides the audience with an establishing shot and sets the location of the movie. There is also symbolism deeply embedded into the faming shots. The rain pouring down during each of the shots at the Rashomon Gates can be interpreted a way of foreshadowing the events to come.