“Rashomon,” dir. Akira Kurosawa

November 7, 2010

Rashomon‘s influence is so pervasive, the story structure will be familiar to anyone, even if they’ve never heard of the picture. A crime is committed, and the only witnesses give very conflicting accounts. Revolutionary in its time, the gimmick has lost its novelty now that countless films and television shows have lifted it, but few if any of them retained the same philosophical implications. Most writers turn it into a simple lesson in subjectivity – characters lie to make themselves look better. The characters in Rashomon do the opposite. By the film’s end, the most important questions are not raised by the legalities of the case, it’s raised by how the characters perceive themselves – what they believe are their given roles in society and how that defines them, not just the way they live or what they do, but who they are.


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