Kurosawa’s reputation was well-earned if this film is representative of his works.
Watching it, I was reminded of some of the findings of modern psychology regarding the malleability and unreliability of memory – although they indicate that our recollections aren’t to be trusted even in normal situations, much less ones that challenge the most basic aspects of our self-identity. Four private hells, indeed.
I viewed the rainstorm as a force bringing together the woodcutter, the priest, and the commoner, not as a metaphor for the horror in which we are forced to live, which the commentary suggests it is. Clearly there were intended levels of symbolic meaning in the film, but it’s very easy to look too hard for meaning and symbolism. The ruins of Rashomon gate would not have been a sanctuary if it hadn’t been raining.
Was it really tradition for Japanese women to shave off their eyebrows and paint them on again, several inches higher (and rather closer-together) on their foreheads? How peculiar… although fashion is always odd.