The intention of Rashomon

All the greatest film critics over the past 60 years have interpreted Rashomon on their way. Some conclude by saying that truth is subjective. Some even prove the woodcutter to be the villain in the great Rashomon murder mystery, since he was the one who claimed to find the husband’s body, and he was the one who told the bandit’s version of the story. While the interpretation of Rashomon is a matter of great debate, the intention of Rashomon is extremely subtle and beautiful.

Rashomon, in a way, depicts the subjectivity of truth. All the versions have in common one single element- ‘pride’. The bandit is proud to have raped the wife and killed the husband in a tough fight. The wife is proud to have killed. The husband is proud to have killed himself. The woodcutter is proud to have seen it all happen. No one pleads guilty. All of them tell their stories as blatantly as possible.

Five people interpret an action and each interpretation is different because, in the telling and in the retelling, the people reveal not the action, but themselves. It shows how difficult and abstracted truth gets when people involve subjectivity. The fact that this film is unresolved is one of the greatest intentions of this film.


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