Baruch College sign on the Vertical Campus building


1. Outline of the plot:

On a rainy day at a broken temple, a stranger runs to seek shelter just to meet a priest and woodsman sitting in the temple. They then tear some wood off the temple just to start a fire to tell the tragic story. Three days before, the Woodmen went to a nearby mountain to grab wood, he finds a body and reports it to the court. The priest was brought to court to tell his story. The bandit was brought to court to tell his story too. 

He met a husband, with a sword, and his wife, riding on a horse. The victims, the husband and wife, met with the bandit. The bandit glanced at the wife and suddenly got attracted so he chased them. He then tricked the husband into going deeper into the mountain to separate the husband and wife. After succeeding in capturing and tying the husband, the bandit brings the wife over just to play with her, knowing that she can’t defend herself, in front of the tied-up husband. The wife tries to defend herself from the bandit but after being forced on by the bandit and staring at the sky, she was into kissing the bandit. After kissing the wife and leaving them both behind, she begs the bandit to either kill the husband or himself for the guilt she had. The two men fought, ending with the husband dying. The wife disappeared after the fight.

On the other hand, the wife was called to the court and explained her story. She says that after the kiss they did not fight. The husband gave her a glare of “cold light, a look of loathing.” (43:29) The wife wanted to die from the look the husband was giving her but instead, she killed her husband. 

Being possessed by the husband in his wife’s body, he told his story of how the bandit and the wife tried to run away together and the wife asked to kill the husband. The wife ran away as the bandit chased but lost her and went back to the husband to free him. Feeling sorrow, he took the wife’s dagger she left after defending herself from the bandit and suicide. 

Unexpectedly, the Woodsman said that he saw and heard everything that actually happened to the stranger after lying in front of the court. The bandit was begging the wife to become his wife instead. After the husband was set free, he did not want anything to do with the wife. Crying and crying, the wife went crazy and said something to both men that made them start fighting each other. In the end, the bandit killed her husband.

Back at the broken temple, they hear a baby crying and shaming the woodsman, the stranger took the cloth provided for the baby and left. Woodsman felt guilty after stealing the dagger and being informed by the stranger. The rain then stops shortly after, and the Priest handed the baby to the Woodsman for him to take care of.

2. What are the main symbols in the film, and what do they represent?

Rain – When there is rain, it’s pouring wet and makes a lot of mess. I believe rain symbolizes something tragic that happened and sins.

Forest – Anything could be inside the forest. Just like how mysterious the story turns out, we don’t know whose story was the truth and we don’t know how one thing led to another.

Point of view – I feel like the point of view is a symbol in this film because everyone tells a different story and we don’t know what is real and what is not.

3. What are the main philosophical questions (ideas) being raised by the film? How are these themes still relevant today?

I believe the point of view is the main idea of this film. We heard the story from the bandit, the wife, the dead husband who possessed the wife’s body, and the Woodsman yet we didn’t figure out whose story is the truth. The author is trying to tell us that point of view is an important thing when it comes to writing a story.

4. How is the structure of the film important to the telling of this story?

Having a different point of view in the film feels like a rollercoaster. It gives us curiosity and excitement to find out who was telling the truth.

5. Who’s story did you find most trustworthy and why? 

I felt like the bandit’s story was the most trustworthy because he was caught and tied up with ropes. In the film, he also stated how he was going to be captured anyways so he has nothing to hide.

6. Consider the final scene when the Priest chooses to hand the baby over to the Woodsman. What is Kurosawa trying to say with this gesture?

I believe Kurosawa is trying to remind us that everyone gets a second chance. In this case, the Woodsman commits the sin of stealing the dagger the wife left. Giving the baby to the Woodsman to take care of it, it shows that he has to live with the burden of tampering with the evidence by raising the baby.

7. Rashomon is an adaptation of a short story written by Akutagawa, consider what elements are present in the film that enhance or diminish a story like this. Are there aspects to the story that might be better served on the page, why?

I feel like the beginning at the broken temple and when the bandit first met the victims might be better served on the page because that scene could be written with imagery to let the reader’s mind frame the picture.