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Rashomon - Film Discussion

PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2003 1:35 pm
by miketripp
So... I'm using the local public library to catch up on a lot of the films I feel like I should have seen but never got around to watching. It's great because the library near me actually has a large foreign film DVD collection and the rentals are free for 3 days.

Anyway, last night I watched Kurosawa's "Rashomon". The movie definitely lived up to my expectations. I do have some questions that others might be able to shed light on.

I've read in numerous places that the ending is rather open to interpretation and the point of the film is that subjective truth lies in the mind of those watching. Every telling of the story an interpretation of the mind that experienced it. I also seem to have read that the final 'witness' version must be the "T"ruth as evidenced by the validation the woodcarver gets from the priest in the end (restoring his faith in man).

Unfortunatley, the library DVDs don't have the written inserts and I know that the criterion collection version had an excerpt from Kurosawa's autobiography in which he spoke of the film.

Anyone have any insight, thoughts, reviews or critiques of this Japanese cinema classic??

Re: Rashomon - Film Discussion

PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2003 2:45 pm
by auteur
NONE of the tellings of the story is the Truth. The point of RASHOMON is that even when we mean to tell the Truth, even when we are not conscious of altering the Truth(lying,embellishing,withholding,etc.), we cannot achieve absolute truth. We can only achieve a truth that is subjective because we only perceive a portion of reality and that portion is "filtered" through memory, personality, cognition, language, etc. When Priest exclaims: "I have seen hundreds die like animals but THIS is terrible", he is referring to this inherent ignorance, this human limitation.
Towards the end, the Wood Dealer and Priest hear the cries of an abandoned infant. Wood Dealer decides to adopt the baby even though he has several mouths to feed already. We see him smiling(the film's sole smile),walking away from Rashomon gate, baby in arms. The film proposes that human suffering and ignorance, which is a given, can only be abated through love and self-sacrifice.

Re: Rashomon - Film Discussion

PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2003 7:29 pm
by miketripp
"The film proposes that human suffering and ignorance, which is a given, can only be abated through love and self-sacrifice."

Ahhh... sometimes I can be a dolt.. I wasn't seeing it from this perspective at the end of the movie but it makes perfect sense. I got the idea that all of the stories were made up of each person's interpretation of what happened but didn't make the explicit connection that the woodcarvers redemption is on account of his acceptance of the child (humankinds love and grace). I knew there was a message there (thus the reason for the child) but you succinctly summed it up. Thanks.

Re: Rashomon - Film Discussion

PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2003 11:26 am
by groom_daniel
Donald Richie's Focus on Rashomon is worth reading, if your library has it.

When Kurosawa's assistant directors couldn't understand the script and wanted an explanation, he told them, "Human beings are unable to be honest with themselves about themselves. They cannot talk about themselves without embellishing…You say that you can't understand this script at all, but that is because the human heart itself is impossible to understand. If you focus on the impossibility of truly understanding human psychology and read the script one more time, I think you will grasp the point of it."