Rashomon Analysis

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It is commonly understood that we accept that which we are comfortable with. We are comfortable with our families, so we trust them. We are comfortable with our friends, so we trust them. But how do we determine trustworthiness in those we do not know at all? Trust, in such cases, is often built through finding commonalities between ourselves and others, or by simply forming a generally positive perception of an individual. Film most clearly illustrates this principle. When we peer into a text’s diegetic environment, we immediately form opinions on its inhabitants. These opinions are crafted, however, not just in relation to the characters of a film, but in relation to the film as a whole, and how said film works with or against our expectations. …show more content…
Different genres utilize the camera and its subjects differently, and Kurosawa notes these differences throughout Rashomon. Tajomaru’s story is intentionally very comedic. He is an over-the-top character, coming off as slightly unhinged at times, but never ultimately unreliable. Throughout Tajomaru’s retell of events, the camera is very subjective. The audience is seeing the action almost entirely how Tajomaru is seeing it. In fact, the audience is so closely connected to Tajomaru’s point of view, that we are given a glimpse of how he hopes to be perceived, which is as a gallant hero wandering through the forest. Dramatic music complements this brief fantasy of his. While the scene is obviously very comedic, it does not discredit Tajomaru. In fact, it actually brings viewers closer to understanding him. In comically portraying Tajomaru as vulnerable, Kurosawa portrays him as honest as well. The following scene depicts a fight between Tajomaru and the wife. The camera is very frantic, always moving and always cutting from shot to shot. Throughout, however, Tajomaru maintains a smile. The over-the-top nature of the scene is most evident when Tajomaru steals a kiss at the end, and the wife passionately returns the favor. Because the audience is able to quickly build a connection with Tajomaru, this otherwise ridiculous …show more content…
As we hear the events from her perspective, the extradiegetic elements of the film begin to resemble those one might expect from a horror flick. Music becomes both quieter and more dramatic. Shots last longer, refraining from cutting often so as to elongate their impact. Other shots begin to feel empty, as we are given only empty views of the wife facing the magistrate, and even emptier views of the desolate pond. All of these elements contribute to Kurosawa’s swift transition to a new genre, far different from the comedy of just moments ago. Initially, we as viewers are unwilling to accept the wife’s rendition of the events. After all, we have just laughed her off as comedic throwaway during Tajomaru’s retell. But as Kurosawa’s more dramatic elements go to work, we begin to sympathize with and feel concern for the wife. Maybe she is telling the truth after all, and Tajomaru’s humor was simply meant to be taken in jest. This is the very conflict, however, that Kurosawa wants his viewers to face. While it is easy to get caught up in a game of pointing fingers and determining the truth, such efforts are futile. Our adopted role as a sort of judge seems even more enticing as we become the magistrate of the film. Characters speak to the audience directly in pleading their case. Kurosawa invites his audience though to resist such temptations, and acknowledge just how pointless the truth really is. This invitation makes even greater

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