Rashomon, the theatre of truth; from doing something to doing no good. Film and commentary by Akira Kurosawa.

Rashomon and its effects220px-Rashomon_poster_2

The Rashomon effect is contradictory interpretations of the same event by different people. The phrase derives from the film Rashomon, where the accounts of the witnesses, suspects, and victims of a rape and murder are all different. The idea of contradicting interpretations has been around for a long time. It is studied in the context of understanding the nature of truth(s) and truth-telling not only in journalism but in movie making as well, see, Kurosawa’s film “Rashomon” for a bigger picture. Rashomon marked the entrance of Japanese film onto the world stage.  The film depicts the rape of a woman and the murder of her samurai husband. Robert Altman compliments Kurosawa’s use of “dappled” light throughout the film, which gives the characte rs and settings further ambiguity.  It won several awards, including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1951, and an Academy Honorary Award at the 24th Academy Awards in 1952, and is now considered one of the greatest films ever made.  Rashomon (羅生門) is a 1950 Japanese period drama film directed by Akira Kurosawa. The film is known for a plot device which involves various characters providing alternative, self-serving and contradictory versions of the same incident. The name of the film refers to the enormous city gate of Kyoto. The term Rashomon effect refers to real-world situations in which multiple eye-witness testimonies of an event contain conflicting information.  In his essay “Rashomon”, Tadao Sato suggests that the film uses sunlight to symbolize evil and sin in the film, arguing that the wife gives in to the bandit’s desires when she sees the sun. However, Professor Keiko I. McDonald opposes Sato’s idea in her essay “The Dialectic of Light and Darkness in Kurosawa’s Rashomon”. McDonald says the film conventionally uses light to symbolize “good” or “reason” and darkness to symbolize “bad” or “impulse”. She interprets the scene mentioned by Sato differently, pointing out that the wife gives herself to the bandit when the sun slowly fades out. McDonald also reveals that Kurosawa was waiting for a big cloud to appear over Rashomon gate to shoot the final scene in which the woodcutter takes the abandoned baby home; Kurosawa wanted to show that there might be another dark rain any time soon, even though the sky is clear at this moment. Bucking tradition, Miyagawa directly filmed the sun through the leaves of the trees, as if to show the light of truth becoming obscured. Symbolism runs rampant throughout the film and much has been written on the subject.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.