The Rashomon Effect


L4 Blog 2:

Please read Stephen Prince’s analysis, The Rashomon Effect.  Choose an argument that Prince makes about the film, and agree/disagree using specific examples from the film to support your opinion.  Please strive to discuss a point that truly puts forth an intriguing, substantial idea that you can discuss intelligently.

9 responses

  1. Almost all of the points made by Stephen Prince is already backed up with examples by the film itself however, when he talks about how people are weak and easily corrupted, I disagree. What I have inferred from the entire plot is that every narrator had their own motive therefore revealed their reasons. The love-at-the-first-sight was the incident that incided the whole story and love surely is not a pessimistic thing. The woman was hoping to leave her monotonous life with her husband, and the husband was brave enough to fight for his woman in one of the versions of the crime. There were pessimistic elements but they did not constitute the story.
    At the same time I don’t believe the distortion of the truth was the one and the only essential thing about the crime but how it engendered the woodcutter to adopt the baby was the ultimate result that I value. So the man did not die and the woman did not suffer for nothing but for a brand new, full of hope life.

  2. I agree with Stephen Price’s argument that the film reveals the extremities of human behavior. At the beginning of the film, the priest repeatedly exlaims that he has never heard or witnessed an event as horrıble as this one. He even proclaims that he has lost his faith in humanity. Thus, even the priest’s reaction to this particular event is extreme. Moreover, his change of heart at the end of film can be viewed as a bit extreme, as well. Of course, the desire that seizes the bandit is extreme in its degree, as well, so much that it drives him to rape a noblewoman and perhaps commit a murder. The exteremities of his desires, reactions and behavior also manifest themselves in his disturbing laughter. At the most inappropriate times, the bandit has manic fits of laugther. Furthermore, the use of lighting in the film in a way higlights these extremities of human behavior. The contrast of the shadow and light symbolizes humanity’s capacity for both great good and great evil. Therefore, the use of shadows becomes a representation of the extremities of human nature. Moreover, the nonlinar narratives embellished with flashback sequences have also contributed to the director’s expression of the two extremes that threathen to overwhelm humans. Each account of the event paints a different picture of the noblewoman. In the bandit’s account, she succubs to her desires and later manipulates the two man to duel. Thus, she is portrayed as a deceitful, weak and manipulative soul. However, in her own account she is the victim of a rape, she may still seem weak but she is certainly portrayed as an innocent woman. Fİnally, the films narrative also hints at the woodcutter’s duality for he withheld information in his testimony and may in fact be a thief (for he might have stolen the woman’s dagger). On the other hand, he also shows compassion and kindess by taking the abondoned baby home with him at the very end of the film. Hence, the audience is left with a question: Is he a selfish liar and a thief or a compassionate and selfless human being? All in all, the variety of different perspectives conveyed through the film has made it possible for the director to show the extremes of human behavior.

  3. The Rashamon Effect is very valuable because of escalating the divergence of point of views and reflecting the truth through various eye iris.Other than that, among S.Prince’s statements in his essay, I liked him saying ‘world can’t be changed because because people themselves are weak and easily corrupted. This can be applied to Kurosowa’s style, he has darker tone and has a pessimistic point of view. As he stated in his essay, making such a movie including beautiful scenes (such as forest scene surprassing the default movie making perception back then) was a huge thing for that time. The watcher of the movie could look at it and did not like it or could think about the movie with a deeper manner. However, it would be hard for the audience back then to come up and agree with the inclination of man’s weakness or corruption, after experiencing a diminishing war. After war time, people have a tendancy to be more positive rather than negative due to being in a pretty desperate situation. Though people want to breath fresh air after being about to drown, Kurosawa chose to probe the reasons why they were under the water and which factors lead them in their way to drowning and being closer to the bottom.

  4. I definitely agree with what Stephen Prince says about Kurosawa’s respond to his world, both as an artist and a moralist. Bring in a different way of storytelling by using a nonlinear approach was something that differed him from many directors at his time, making him a special director.
    Yet for me, it is truly remarkable that Kurosawa responded to his culture and the social crisis in his time. Prince points out to Kurosawa’s need to produce “hope for a ruined nation” and “desire for restoration”. However, he also carries this pessimism inside him, fearing that the present system cannot be changed and as Prince explains, we see that pessimism until the end of the film.
    Firstly, hearing a story from four different points of views but not being able to decide which one is true or not makes us question the deceitful and lier nature of human beings. And the four characters each seem to tell their story so honestly that it confuses us even more.
    The bandit in the movie is like the combination of all the fierce emotions in a human being. He is aggressive, acting considerably like a psychopat by laughing all around, and excepting the crime that is incredibly barbaric very voluntarily shows how he is definitely indifferent to morality and ethics, and that is the kind of a person that Kurosawa seems to avoid in his “heroic ideal”.
    Just as we think we lost hope out of human nature, because of not being able to find the truth, just like Prince explains, in the very last scene, we see the glimpse of hope that Kurosawa tries to leave on his us, his audiences. The woodcutter finds a baby outside of the temple and decides to adopt it. He questions the selfishness of human kind. As they stop and start thinking, with the baby in their hands, the rain slows down, the pace of the movie when compared to the forest scenes slows down and we are left with this one question: what will human kind decide to do about his own future? Is there a possibility for the woodcutter to leave the baby to some place else or will he truly take care of him with all his love and compassion?

  5. In my opinion, Stephen Prince is partially correct in his analysis of Rashomon. I don’t totatly agree with him but there are some parts in which I agree with him extremely. I think Mr. Prince’s analysis on the story of Rashomon in not correct. Kurosawa was not that succesful in the expression of the feelings such as heroism and the story might confuse some of the viewers because it is not created visely. I know that to create the whole story and the script was not entirely Kurosawa’s job but since he was the director, he should be responsible for the movie as a whole.

    The part that I agree with Mr. Prince’s analysis is the part in which he wrote about Kurosawa’s style of directing and editing. It is true that his expression of trees was one of the bests of his kind and his style of editing especialy in a movie like this is very successful. In this kind of movies, directors talent is extremely important to provide the fluent continuity of the different stories the characters tell.

    Even though I read this article, I still have the same opininon about this movie. Rashomon is a masterpiece with its bad story but a successful directing performance.

  6. As Stephen Prince mentions, the film express the general thoughts about unrelieblity and relativity of truths about a situation with certain perspectives. I agree with this statement beacuse as we see in the film the director shoots flashbacks of four different characters perspectives: woodcutters, the thiefs, the womans, and the spirit of the husbands through a single situation. The reader doesn’t know which one is correct or who is the murder. There are paralyzed thoughts that you couldn’t catch up. This film is like one of the films that makes you think and ponder about the truth.

    I don’t think like Stephen Prince about the shooting techniques’ success that much. Shooting in the forest is a hard thing to achieve beacuse of the nature conditions, and the director made it successfuly but its not that ostentatious as S.Prince metions in his review.

  7. I definitely agree with Stephen Prince that he says Kurosawa’s films have a tragic dimension that is rooted in his at times pessimistic reflections on human nature, and Rashomon was the first work in which he allowed that pessimism its full expression. In most of the scenes, the despair is given to the audience. When Kurosawa tries to reflect the thoughts about human nature, the audience is quite stunned because there are four different witnesses for the crime(murder) which makes narrators unreliable. Each one of the story tellers are retelling the same event different from others. That shows Kurosawa’s despair when telling the human nature because woodcutter, the thief, the woman, and the spirit of the husband have different reasons for explaining the story differs. While the “truth” is really existing, the characters is not lying for protecting themselves, this is only related with human nature. And also, the characters are started to believe their lies after some point. This is the reason why Kurosawa is that much desperate about human nature. I like the Prince’s thoughts which he mentioned that Kurosawa creates a tragic dimension and vicious cycle that the audience couldn’t have power to solve. The story is impossible to reconcile and that makes it vicious. Normally, it is clear to see who is the murderer and how did it happen, but Kurosawa’s style comes in scene at this point for confusing the audience’s brains. He definitely wants to clarify that if you are talking about humans, there is no such thing as truth and definite. Another point is which I try to explain is shots, I think Kurosawa doesn’t make the shots accidentally, for example when he tries to shoot some silent parts of the movie, he picked up the parts when the characters are lying. He gives the affect of lying with silent shots, mimics and gestures. Although it is a black and white movie, it clearly defines the pessimism’s reflections on characters while lying.

  8. I definitely agree with Stephen Prince on that Kurosawa’s visionary approach had affected the cinematic world enormously. When the idea of Kurosawa was found too daring and difficult for audiences to understand. However, after it played in Venice and then went into international distribution, the elements of the film affected everyone.

    The film bases on a samurai that has been murdered and his wife who has been raped. This story is told in four different points of views: woodcutter, the bandit, the woman and the spirit of the dead samurai by a medium. For example, according to the wife’s story, after Tajōmaru raped and left her, her husband comes. She faints and when she wakes up she sees her husband dead with a dagger in his chest. On the other hand, the audience learns what the samurai claims through the medium. According to him after Tajōmaru rapes her, he asks her to travel with him and she accepts it and wants him to kill her husband. Upon this Tajōmaru gives the samurai a choice of killing or letting the wife. After Tajōmaru sets him free, he kills himself with wife’s dagger. These two points of views create a dilemma.

    After this movie was released, other directors started to use this method. In 1954, a movie called Tamil which is a Indian crime story was shot. In 2008, Vantage Point, an American action movie, was shot. Also, a well-known TV series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation uses Rashomon affect today.

  9. I definitely agree with Stephen Price that the elements that make Kurosawa’s Rashomon are the elements of editing and cinematography. Though he points out the films narrative was what drew many people to watch and enjoy Kurosawa’s directing all of this would amount to nothing without the aim to revive the effect of silent cinema by conveying this through long silent sequences in the film. Kurosawa also sought out the most unconventional use of camera that made the film unique in its time. The use of camera in the forest scenes especially directing the camera to take footage of the sun was for its time unconventional yet this was what made Rashomon so brilliant. The camera movements in the uneven forest still amaze directors today who have so many resources yet some cannot use the camera in such expertise. The utilization of shadows in the forest also serve to accommodate the idea of mystery in the film which again strengthens the narrative that blew audiences away! Also editing had a great impact on the film though at this time many different director’s were trying new technics in editing I believe Kurosawa was a master of the art of editing. The flowing edits are visually amazing to watch but more amazing when there are 407 separate shots in the body of the film, this allowed Kurosawa to splice together alternating shots from the same scene giving the audience a variety of diverse shots in minutes. The pace of the editing as the narrative changes also serves as a way to convey meaning. This meaning in turn becomes a character of its own in the film though ambiguous and camouflaged at first this idea of the cinematography and editing becoming a new character seems absurd but Kurosawa utilizes these mechanisms to play a central part in his film which in turn allows them to become very vital and even become a character that develops and has its own narrative that complements Rashomon. In short, Stephen Price gives great examples to how cinematography and editing are the elements without which Rashomon would not have easily gained the fame and importance it holds in international cinema.

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