My film critic on Rashomon

 

Hi everyone! From now on I am planning to publish some of my critics on films that I find interesting and worth to comment on. It might be a good start to produce and spread ideas. Lets start with the first one:

Rashomon directed by Akira Kurosawa in 1950 is based on that narrative where a Japanese samurai and his wife see a bandit on their way and he rapes samurai’s wife ,and then samurai is found death. Story just begins with woodcutter’s point of view how he finds the body and other stuff , later we listen the background of the murder and rape event in three different eyewitnesses’ (the wife, bandit, woodcutter himself)  accounts. But woodcutter also  being storyteller in the film by telling what happened in the court to the commoner in the Rashomon gate. In the court each eyewitness sits in front of a judge who is invisible to audience as if the audience itself is the judge. Director uses flashbacks while each one begins to talk and leaves the decision to the audience which one is true or is there any absolute truth. This technique is a great way to question about perception and reality, emphasizing  the main theme of the film, reality.

The film starts with a raining, cloudy environment at Rashomon gate, woodcutter’s saying “I dont understand “. This scene perfectly confronts with the main theme of the film, we are not able to understand or know the reality and there is always uncertainty due to insecurity of human perception. Later, it goes on with woodcutter’s words and flashback to the time in the forest. Now, we are able to see a little bit of sun light among the trees, meaningly the film begins to give us clues about the reality. While he is walking, the sound follows his movement and stops at every moment he surprisingly finds some staff from samurai and his wife.We don’t see every angle from these scenes which makes us being not totally informed like we don’t see the samurai’s body, only hands. So we can not be sure that if woodcutter is telling the absolute truth in the court although we see the court scenes as the most lighted ones where we come closer to the reality.When we look at the flashbacks that Bandit tells the story in his point of view, quick cuts, close ups are seen in the forests. In contrast, while we are in the in wife’s flashback, much longer takes and longer shots  director chooses and he uses more slowly cuts to a close-up. The technique perfectly confronts with the idea that reality changes according to the perception of each character.  Additionally, we don’t hear the judge’s voice during the film and  it makes us to feel like we are the judge and we investigate the truth. Thus, director succeeds to make audience participating in the film.

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Second eyewitness caught and brought by police is bandit. We see first perspective to the murder and rape by his telling that the wife was also willing to be with him. But most importantly, he tries to justify his act by claiming it was because the soft wind while he was resting in the forest. Then he tries to give a reason why he wanted to rape her by describing the wife’s anger making him seduced. Also, he says that they fought with honor and that can be a justification or comment to look better in the eye of judge So, we may conclude that even in any disgusting crime people wants to justify their act and secretly hopes to be understood. This might be a criticism to the human nature ‘do people really feel guilty from their acts or they find ways to justify their acts’. As Gopalan Mullik  (Head of Film Studies Deptt, St. Xavier’s College, “ Kurosawas Rashomon”  Nov 16th 2010) suggests that “deeper conflict between human being’s primitive instinctual desires of lust and greed on the one hand and his social values on the other which seek to curb such instincts. The distortion of facts which each person indulges in is really the result of trying to make them appear to be better than what they actually are in the eyes of the society!“. So we may consider bandit’s distorting the fact that he committed such a crime results from his concern in front of the  judge symbolizing  society.

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The film also intensively questions that if there is goodness in the world or  in the humanity,if  memory is a good or bad thing, why or how people distort their memory. Distorting memory is explained in the dialogue between commoner and priest as  “ –Commoner: Well, men are only men. That’s why they lie.They can’t tell the truth, even to themselves. Priest: That may be true. Because men are weak, they lie to deceive themselves.” So, human nature can be considered  weak and their distorting even their own memory results from it. This might be another perspective to distorting reality besides from social concerns. Secondly, we need to examine the goodness assumed that people have inside in the film. Priest  symbolizes  moral part of the film and make us to think about humanity in a broader sense. He claims to have faith in humanity and wants to keep his faith. Even though commoner advocates the dark side of humanity by his speech and his act at the end of the film, priest insists on believing goodness and spirituality in humanity. At the end of the film, a baby in the Rashomon gate appears. I think, this part might be included to summarize ideas about human nature in a humanistic perspective. The opposite way of commoner’s and  woodcutter’s behaving  represents our contradictory nature while emphasizing there is still hope in humanity