Rashomon: "truth is relative, fragile, fleeting and uncertain"

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rashomon is a 1950 Japanese crime mystery film directed by Akira Kurosawa. A masterpiece and a landmark in the history of films. Though, at the end of the movie, i found it extremely difficult to understand the overall philosophy behind, a bit of thinking and extra reading opened many doors for understanding. I have heard people saying, “This is my perspective”, “That’s his perspective, he may be wrong, it depends on the way you look at it”, “He is giving an altered perspective, that’s not the truth!”, etc.. the most famous one is, “If you put everything in perspective, you will understand the ground reality”. What Rashomon try to achieve is, “Perspective distorts reality and makes the absolute truth unknowable.”

There are four different perceptions/stories in the movie, all trying to explain, convincingly, how the samurai was killed. At the end of the bandit's version of the incident, he admits to the rape of a woman and the murder of the woman's husband (Samurai). In the trial court, the women (samurai’s wife) claims that she did not instruct the bandit to kill her husband. Samurai’s version (though he is dead, his version is heard by a ‘medium’) is altogether different. He (through the medium of a women in ghostly voice) claims that after the woman is raped and the bandit runs off after a furious fight with him and he commits suicide because he is ashamed that his wife had been raped and wants to abandon him for the rapist. Finally, there is a version from a woodcutter, a witness to the incident and his version seems reasonable though he try to cover the fact that he stole the dragger from the scene of murder. In the climax, the priest who lost faith in humanity after hearing all these “versions/perspectives”, finally see the humanity existed in the heart of that woodcutter, when he compassionately agree to take care of the unattended baby.

The message of the film seems that, "truth is relative, fragile, fleeting and uncertain. The movie is not about culpability or innocence. Instead, it focuses on something far more profound and thought-provoking: the inability of any one man to know the truth, no matter how clearly he thinks he sees things. Perspective distorts reality and makes the absolute truth unknowable [Read More]".

What I understand is, perspectives on “something” may differ, we may be forced to compassionately accept the divergent perspectives. It is only when we try to obviate the “self-serving” element in various perspectives, we may have a chance to walk on the path towards absolute reality/truth.

Rashomon is a great movie. Please do watch! :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is there a difference between truth and 'absolute' truth? Truth is truth nothing more and beyond that. Truth is not uncertain or fragile.it is the interpretation of truth that is relative and wavering.

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