Other Stuff

If you like what you see, click the buttons and let the world know!


« #12. Machete - Review | Main | Coming Soon »

#11. Rashomon - Review

Rashomon Poster

Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon sets out to teach historians and students alike a lesson in perception and the responsibility one has when attempting to discern fact from any story. His wildly blended tale of a kidnapping, a rape, and a murder, is brilliantly presented through the shuffled memories of all that were involved with the sordid events.  The amalgam of so many point-of-views creates a whirlwind of speculation, impossible to trust or believe.

Like the film, the short stories from Konjaku Monogatari-Shu (Tales From Long Ago) also present accounts from ancient Japan. Certain particular narratives were hard to believe, especially when considering the present-day reputation of a samurai. The persona of a samurai is that of a noble warrior, a fearless and proud soldier that was concerned with nothing more than honor and a dignified death. Tales From Long Ago and Rashomon however paint a different picture of the samurai. Perhaps honor is not as important as survival, as Taira no Koremochi proved when he dressed as a woman and hid for his life in a ditch until the enemy withdrew. Fujiwara no Yasumasa presented a more conciliatory image of the samurai when, instead of striking down the insolent bandit that was attempting to steal his shoes, held-fast his blade and instead used reason and charity to pacify the young criminal.

Rashomon CastRashomon submits the most shocking conception of the samurai: wicked and weak. In his film, Kurosawa allows his samurai to be duped, petty, cruel, and worst of all an unskilled swordsman. Could there really have been samurai with such shallow integrity, with such amateurish fighting capability? The testimony recounted by the bandit Tajomaru and the samurai’s wife Masako present the husband as a prideful coward. Its not until the warrior’s own side of the story is conveyed by way of a medium does the audience even get a glimpse of the samurai history has taught us to be true.

Both Tales from Long Ago and Rashomon impart a different version of the samurai. Their descriptions do not include the bushido code of conduct. In fact, there is no code, no law, and no real accountability for these Japanese swordsmen. The man with the blade makes the rules perhaps, but that goes against everything history has instilled in the samurai legend.  And that, perhaps, is Kurosawa’s lesson to the viewer. History is just the blended tales of shuffled memories, and every student of history, in any context, should always stay vigilant when attempting to discern fact from speculation. 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (2)

Have you seen Vantage Point?

If you have doesn't that movie ruin this movie's multiple angle style?

September 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

No I haven't seen the film... the 2008 flick with Quaid and Jack from Lost?

September 12, 2010 | Registered CommenterBrandon Roberts

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.