A Reflection of the Movie "Rashomon"

Category: Review

Rashomon, film by Akira Kurosava is a classic of cinematography. This legendary movie is the one of the most known films of this director. Brilliant acting of the main characters, perfect plot and great production represent not only a beautiful picture, but also a thoughtful novel with a deep sense and implication. In this paper we will discuss this movie with examples from it. Also we will tell, why Rashomon is thought to be the one of the greatest movies of 20th century. Also we will recapitulate some events to clarify the meaning and the main idea of this movie.

First of all we need to say about the main idea of Rashomon. It lies in the reveal of true human weakness and origins of lies. Every human hides something from others, and in this plot we clearly see a distinct peculiarity of such a dramatic human characteristics. In this movie, we meet three people, who tell about past events that happened in the nearest woods. They primary speak about the last crime - murder and a rape. The main idea of this film is to represent human lies on the example of the one story - how every person, who have seen this murder interprets it and tells about this event to the judges. "The lack of a framing narrative emphasizes all the more each character`s egoistic self-defense or aggrandizement, but not easily the relativity of truth" (Yoshimoto). Sitting in the ruins, that where left from the ancient gate, three strangers talk about the trial of a bandit that, supposedly, killed samurai and violated his wife. The thing is, that every participant tells completely different story. It gives a reason to think that everyone is lying, and no one is innocent. To speak more directly, we will illustrate this situation on the next examples from the movie:

In the first part of the film, we see a "murderer", Toshiro Mifune a well-known bandit, that where caught by the local guardian. In his story he acts as a bandit that fell in love with the wife of samurai. He did not want to kill the samurai that is why he caught him and tightened him with a rope. As a result, after the rape of his wife, a woman asked him to fight with a hostage and he killed him. This story, told for the first time to judges, looks very ingenuous and clear. Toshiro, the murderer confesses in his guilt and it seems that nothing can be added to the story. While looking rather insane, he speaks clearly and with a whole sense that illustrates previous horrifying events. He convinces judges that an expressive and short duel between two men, results in a death of the one. This episode shows Toshiro Mifune in not such a bad way, as it could be if he murdered a man before the violation of the young and beautiful woman. Moreover the woman asks the bandit to fight for her that leads to the conclusion that he is not the one who is guilty in this crime. Toshiro confesses in this hard crime because there is no other way. While being one of the most dangerous criminals, who killed not the first his victim, no one has no doubts that he is the one who murdered a samurai. Even, if his story is not true, everyone is confident in Toshiros guiltiness. That is why, while being insane and guilty, this murderer could lie to make himself not such a bad person in the eyes of the society.

Statements of the rape victim, Machiko Kyo are completely incompatible with the story of a bandit. She tells that it was her who murdered her husband because of his behavior and contempt against her after the rape. She could not stand such an disrespect and, when a rapist has gone, she killed him with a knife. In the testimony of Machiko, we hear a story of a woman that, under emotions made a big mistake. This story looks a bit naive and strange, after the words of the bandit. The reason of her lie lies in a wish to be justified after her shame and despair. The woman, being raped, tries to demonstrate her guilt from the other side, by telling judges that she has murdered a man and could not stand his fleer against defenseless and weak woman.

The third participant in this story, a samurai, speaking through the medium tells another story. He tries to convince judges that his wife decided to make a battle between them to go away with the one who will stay alive. Men see her treacherous soul and at the end, samurai kills himself with a knife. This story pretends to be true just because it is told by the murdered person, who is not alive and there is no place for doubts. The problem lies in the fact, that all three persons have their own, completely different story of the one situation. It is clear that everyone has something to hide, but participants are more than convinced in their own versions.

The woodcutter, the witness, tells the "true story" and convinces his listeners that everyone has told lie. He tells, that everyone hided something, and the event where much more strange, that it could be told by the previous three people. Every participant where acting less generously as he told. Woman, asked men to fight for her, but she where the one, more insane that the others. He himself did not tell the judges his version, because it would just confuse everyone.

By hearing such examples, we understand that the nature of the human lie. Trying to be better in the eyes of others we tell different stories to convince them. In addition, human cannot tell the "true story" if he or she does not believe in it. As in this film, there is no conclusion with an understanding whose story is true, we see that the main concept of this movie is to represent the origin of human lie, not truth. With a help of great directing, camera work and light, this film, with theatrical techniques, shows in a symbolic way all the human nature. "Robert Altman compliments Kurosawa's use of "dappled" light throughout the film, which gives the characters and settings further ambiguity" (Altman). Moreover, it highlights the importance of abstract ideas than action (Pramaggiore, Wallis).

To sum up, we can say, that Rashomon, being the classics of the cinematography illustrates the origin of lie. On the example of the one story and four different interpretations, we see that everyone is thinking only about himself or herself. This great movie, shows a real human nature with its bad features and how each person, not regarding the age, status or place in the society acts in the dangerous and risky situation.

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