Japanese screenwriter best known for the the film classics Rashomon and Seven Samurai

When Rashomon won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival in 1951, it opened up the floodgate forJapanese films to be shown in the west and made its director, Akira Kurosawa, who had already been making films for more than a decade, internationally known. It also launched the career of the film’s scriptwriter, Shinobu Hashimoto, who has died aged 100, helping him to become an essential component in the director’s celebrated oeuvre.

Hashimoto’s screenplay (co-written with Kurosawa), widely considered one of the best ever, was based on a 1922 short story, In a Grove, by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Set in feudal Japan, it tells of a samurai travelling through the woods with his wife. She is raped by a bandit, who then kills her husband. At the trial, the incident is described in four conflicting, yet equally credible, versions by the bandit, the wife, the samurai (communicating through a medium) and a woodcutter, demonstrating the subjective nature of truth. This became known as the “Rashomon effect”, which plays with the viewers’ sense of perspective, making them question what they are seeing.

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