Rashomon (film)

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If men lie in this world, what makes you so sure they'll be honest in the next?

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, based on the short story "In a Grove" by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa.
The husband, the wife...or the bandit?


Commoner[edit]

  • 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.

Others[edit]

  • Woodcutter: I'm the one who should be ashamed. I don't understand my own soul.
  • Priest: Dead men tell no lies.
  • Masako: A man has to make a woman his by his sword.

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: Don't worry about it. It isn't as if men were reasonable.

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.

Commoner: Well, men are only men. That's why they lie. They can't tell the truth, even to themselves.
Priest: That may be true. Because men are weak, they lie to deceive themselves.
Commoner: Not another sermon! I don't mind a lie if it's interesting.

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.

Quotes about Rashomon[edit]

  • 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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