Rashomon

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If men lie in this world, what makes you so sure they'll be honest in the next?
No one tells a lie after he's said he's going to tell one.

Rashomon is a 1950 Jidaigeki film in which a heinous crime and its aftermath are recalled from differing points of view. The film has an unusual narrative structure that reflects the impossibility of obtaining the truth about an event when there are conflicting eyewitness accounts. In English and other languages, Rashomon has become a byword for any situation in which the truth of an event is difficult to verify due to the conflicting accounts of different witnesses.

Directed and written by Akira Kurosawa and Shinobu Hashimoto, based on the short story "In a Grove" by :Ryūnosuke Akutagawa.
The husband, the wife...or the bandit?

Commoner[edit]

  • It sounded interesting, at least while I kept out of the rain. But if it's a sermon, I'd sooner listen to the rain.
  • If men lie in this world, what makes you so sure they'll be honest in the next?
  • No one tells a lie after he's said he's going to tell one.
  • We all want to forget something, so we tell stories. It's easier that way.
  • Women use their tears to fool everyone. They even fool themselves.

Priest[edit]

  • War, earthquake, winds, fire, famine, the plague. Year after year, it's been nothing but disasters. And bandits descend upon us every night. I've seen so many men getting killed like insects, but even I have never heard a story as horrible as this. Yes. So horrible. This time, I may finally lose my faith in the human soul. It's worse than bandits, the plague, famine, fire or wars.
  • A human life is truly as frail and fleeting as the morning dew.
  • Dead men tell no lies.

Tajômaru[edit]

  • I saw the couple three days ago. It was a hot afternoon. Suddenly a cool breeze rustle the leaves. If it hadn't been for that wind, I wouldn't have killed him.
  • I thought I saw a goddess. At that moment I decided to have her, even if I had to kill her man. But if I could have her without killing, all the better.
  • She became very pale and stared at me as though her eyes were frozen. She looked like a child when it turns suddenly serious. The sight of her made me jealous of that man. I started to hate him. I wanted to show her what he looked like, all tied up like that. I hadn't even thought of a thing like that before, but now I did.

Masako[edit]

  • It's you two who are weak! [to Takehiro] If you are my husband, kill this man, then you can tell me to kill myself! But you're not a real man. That is why I was crying. I'm tired of this farce. [She continues laughing, and turns to Tajomaru] I thought Tajomaru might find some way out. [She clutches the bandit by his rags] I thought that if he would save me I would do anything for him! I wanted you to take me away. I would have been yours! [She spits in his face and laughs again] But he's not a man, either. He's just like my husband. Remember, a woman loves a real man only. A man has to make a woman his by his sword.
  • Wait! Stop! Either you die or my husband dies. One of you must die. To have my shame known to two men is worse than dying. I will go with the survivor.

Others[edit]

  • Woodcutter: I'm the one who should be ashamed. I don't understand my own soul.

Dialogue[edit]

Commoner: But is there anyone who's really good? Maybe goodness is just make-believe.
Priest: What a frightening...
Commoner: Man just wants to forget the bad stuff, and believe in the made-up good stuff. It's easier that way.

Priest: If men don't trust each other, this Earth might as well be hell.
Commoner: Right. The world's a kind of hell.
Priest: No! I don't want to believe that!
Commoner: No one will hear you, no matter how loud you shout. Just think. Which one of these stories do you believe?
Woodcutter: None makes any sense.
Commoner: In the end, you cannot understand the things men do.

Priest: I don't want to hear it. No more horror stories.
Commoner: They are common stories these days. I even heard that the demon living here in Rashômon fled in fear of the ferocity of man.

Priest: A man's been murdered.
Commoner: So what? Only one? Why, up on top of this gate, there's always five or six bodies. No one worries about them.

Woodcutter: It's a lie. It's all a lie. Tajômaru's story and the woman's.
Commoner: It's human nature to lie. Most of the time we can't even be honest with ourselves.
Priest: That may be. But it's because men are weak that they lie, even to themselves.
Commoner: Not another sermon. I don't care if it's a lie, as long as it's entertaining. What story did the woman come up with?
Priest: Well, it's completely different from Tajômaru's story. So different that her face didn't even show the fierceness he spoke of. She was so docile, she was almost pitiful.

Woodcutter: Selfish!
Commoner: What's wrong with that? That's the way we are, the way we live. You just can't live unless you're what you call selfish.
Woodcutter: Damn it. Everyone is selfish and dishonest. Making excuses. The bandit, the woman, the man, and you!

Quotes about Rashomon[edit]

I like silent pictures and I always have. They are often so much more beautiful than sound pictures are. Perhaps they had to be.~Akira Kurosawa
  • Rashomon is the closest to "perfect" a film can get.
  • I like silent pictures and I always have. They are often so much more beautiful than sound pictures are. Perhaps they had to be. At any rate I wanted to restore some of this beauty. I thought of it, I remember in this way: one of techniques of modern art is simplification, and that I must therefore simplify this film.
    • Akira Kurosawa, on the style of the film, as quoted in The Films of Akira Kurosawa (1998) by Donald Richie. p. 79
  • Human beings are unable to be honest with themselves about themselves. They cannot talk about themselves without embellishing. This script portrays such human beings — the kind who cannot survive without lies to make them feel they are better people than they really are. It even shows this sinful need for flattering falsehood going beyond the grave — even the character who dies cannot give up his lies when he speaks to the living through a medium. Egoism is a sin the human being carries with him from birth; it is the most difficult to redeem. This film is like a strange picture scroll that is unrolled and displayed by the ego. You say that you can’t understand this script at all, but that is because the human heart itself is impossible to understand. If you focus on the impossibility of truly understanding human psychology and read the script one more time, I think you will grasp the point of it.

Cast[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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