1. Give a brief outline of the plot (action) of the film.
- The film begins with two men sitting under what I perceive to be a temple while it’s pouring rain. A man enters the scene and asks what they’re doing and the two men already there start talking about the worst story they’ve ever heard and the tragedies of life. Eventually, they begin telling the story through the perspective of one of the men already there. He walks us through what he found, creating suspense as to what the worst story he’s ever heard and seen is, and eventually we’re introduced to the main suspect, a bandit. The bandit sees a samurai walking with a woman on his horse but her face is covered so he’s enticed and lusts for her so he decides he’s going to tie up the samurai, who happen to be her husband, to take this woman for himself. The course of events as to what happened to this samurai, woman, and bandit when he tricked and tied up the samurai is told by all three characters, with the samurai’s story being told from the dead. Eventually, they all tell their stories and as it nears the end of the film, the three men from the beginning hear a baby crying. The man who entered into the scene at the beginning rushes to the baby but takes the clothing rather than attending to the baby and one of the two men calls him evil and judges him until the greedy man calls him out for himself also being greedy. Eventually, the greedy man leaves and one of the two men, the priest, gives the other man the baby after judging him. The man walks away with the baby in hand as the rain has finally cleared.
2. What are the main symbols in the film, what do they represent?
- The main symbols in the film are of course the characters, and they’re meant to represent the humanistic values that are considered wrong. For instance, the bandit is meant to represent human pride because he tells the story as someone who is mighty and smart enough to trick the husband. Specifically the line where he says that it’s the first time someone has clashed swords 20 times really gave it away and since the four characters have different stories but with one main characteristic leading the story. In the story of the wife, her character is meant to represent human shame and guilt and this is because of the description of her husband’s eyes which isn’t described in such detail in the other stories. Another main symbol would have to be the music because it helped express emotions and tone when there wasn’t any dialogue which could be argued that the music was symbolism for the idea that actions speak louder than words.
3. What are the main philosophical questions (ideas) being raised by the film? How are these themes still relevant today?
- The main philosophical questions being raised by this film could be how can we, as humans, trust each other when we prioritize the way we’re perceived over the truth and what justifies us to judge each other? These themes are still relevant today because they relate to our natural human condition of not trusting the unknown and looking out for ourselves first. We see today in Supreme law cases, who we choose as our leaders, and especially who gets canceled or not.
4. How is the structure of the film important to the telling of this story?
- It’s meant to demonstrate the stress and dilemma the characters face when deciding who is telling the truth. The point being that the audience experiences the same ordeal and then decides on their own who to trust.
5. Whose story did you find most trustworthy and why?
- I personally believe the story of the Woodsman because he had the least to gain from the story. The bandit had his life on the line and decided to add his humanistic pride to his story. The wife was trying to cover her own shame and guilt of yielding to the bandit and watching her husband die so perhaps she was trying to blame his death on herself as a way to punish herself for her sins. The story of the husband is similar to the other two in that his story was obviously guided by hate and anger towards his wife who yielded to the bandit. Also, I think the oracle woman could have just listened to the other testimonies or perhaps she was really being controlled. That’s why the story of the Woodsman seems the most sincere because I think it was a way to confess to his taking of the blade so that his soul wouldn’t feel so heavy.
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?
- Kurosawa could be telling the audience to trust those who you judge because I personally was ashamed of what the Priest said to the Woodsman when the Woodsman reached for the baby. It should also be noted that the Priest decides to believe the Woodsman is a father of 6 so again Kurosawa could be telling the audience to trust others in order to protect innocent, which could be represented by the baby’s life.
7. Rashomon is an adaptation of a short story written by Akutagawa, considering 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?
– The facial expressions of the character helped enhance the story because there is just so much an author can say to describe a feeling or facial expression like that of the Wife. One could argue that the black and white film helped emphasize the authenticity of characters through shadows and lights but then again it can diminish one’s idea of what the setting or the beauty of the Wife may look like because it’s determined for you. Furthermore, the attention to detail in every character’s stories may be better served on the page because the camera can only capture specific details and scenes. However, on a page, Akutagawa has an unlimited amount of space to fill in the blanks for the readers and allow the readers to create images in their own heads rather than the camera doing it for them.