That last part is where things really start to get interesting. A year prior to the release of “The Idiot,” Kurosawa released “Rashomon” with Daiei, a subversive mystery drama told from several different perspectives. It received positive reviews in Japan, but as far as the director knew, that was really its only market. As it turns out, however, fate worked in a very mysterious way, as detailed in the aforementioned autobiography:
“I arrived home depressed, with barely enough strength to slide open the door to the entry. Suddenly, my wife came bounding out. ‘Congratulations!’ I was unwittingly indignant: ‘For what?’ ”Rashomon’ has the Grand Prix.’ ‘Rashomon’ had won the Grand Prix at the Venice International Film Festival, and I was spared from having to eat cold rice.”
The international recognition of “Rashomon” immediately eclipsed any fallout from “The Idiot.” It went on to win the Academy Award for Best International Feature, and just a couple of years later, allowed Kurosawa to release his arguable opus, “Seven Samurai,” internationally. If its Rotten Tomatoes page is anything to go by, then “The Idiot” also ended up getting a cultural reevaluation as an ambitious experiment. Despite this, he still credits the initial flop for teaching him an important lesson in filmmaking.
“On thinking it over, I suppose that any director ought at least once to have been roundly attacked and embarrassed,” he reminisced in an excerpt from “Akira Kurosawa: Interviews.” “One should be brave enough to risk this kind of ‘mistake.’ Nowadays, no one does.”