Post by Tom Benton
I don't think any movie has left me so confused. And I suspect that is
intentional. I have read a few reviews and they didn't seem to help.
The nearest I could figure, all the suspects felt that they had
something to hide that was worse than being charged with murder, but I
really didn't get a feel for what that might be. Any help?
Procrastinate now! Do not put it off!
Well, this is the weird and ironic part of the story. Generally,
people accuse OTHERS of the crime and say "I'm innocent." In
Rashomon, all the particulars who were directly involved--bandit,
samurai, wife--say "I DONE IT'. Bandit says he fought a great duel
and won. Samurai says he was wronged by both the bandit and his wife
and he killed himself. The wife says she couldn't stand the shame and
her hubby's accusatory looks, and so, she killed him.
So, each says I'm guilty, but by professing guilt on the physical
level, they're claiming righteousness on a higher level. The bandit
says he gave the samurai a fair chance, and he came out ahead. So, he
aint just a thief but a proud warrior who fought and won a fair duel
and is ready to die with honor.
The samurai blames himself for the suicide, and as such, tugs at our
sympathy. He was fooled by the bandit and betrayed by his wife. He was
wronged by everyone, including himself, since greed led him to follow
the bandit and fall into the trap. Even so, he died as a samurai
should, to atone for his shame and die for honor.
The woman says she resisted the bandit the best she could but he
overpowered her. And then she tried to help her husband, but he
reproached her with cold steely eyes, as if she were to blame. So, she
was violated by the bandit and wronged by her husband.
This is what is really strange in the story: the claiming of higher
ground by the admission of guilt.
While the three particulars admit physical guilt, they profess
spiritual innocence and psychological righteousness.
Of course, there's the fourth witness, the woodcutter, who was not
directly involved with what happened; his account both corroborates
and subverts parts of the testimonies of the others. One would like to
conclude that his account is the definitive one.. but there is the
issue of the missing dagger. Was the samurai killed by the dagger or
by the sword? Could the woodcutter have taken the dagger and altered
to story--that the samurai was killed by the sword--to conceal his
theft? The bandit and the woodcutter say the samurai was killed by the
sword, and the samurai and the woman say he was killed by the dagger.
In the movie, it seems as though the woodcutter did take the dagger.
But did he pick it from the ground or did he remove it from the body?
At any rate, the real point of the movie is NEVER TRUST A JAP. Why?
They don't even trust themselves. It's like what Frank said in Once
Upon a Time in the West: "how can I trust a man who wears both a belt
and suspenders? He doesn't even trust his own pants."
Well, how can we trust Japs who use both dagger and sword? They don't
even trust their own blades.