rashomon2.jpghave fled in the fear of the ferocity of man! I am a bit hesitant to articulate, the kind of impact, this classic movie “Rashomon”, managed to leave a trail on me. A statement like “I admire Akira Kurosawa’s work, you know!” is enough to create a sizeable gulf between the connoisseurs and viewers of movies. One of the best creative delights, this movie seems to have sustained unprecedented a following amongst passionate movie lovers. It is fashionable to discuss Akira Kurosawa within one’s culture and feel “hey babe, I’ve arrived..finally!” …   The tale at Rashomon opens on a very bleak note with the rain hammering down relentlessly on the crumbling arches of the gate, gushing down the steps as rivulets. The depressing weather seems to have seeped deep into the faces of the woodcutter and the monk, who are pondering over the gradual increase of violence and massacre around…*people are murdered like insects..* I may fully lose my faith in the human soul…*thus, the chaotic human life is introduced to the audience. Both men wrestle with the unbelievable trial they witnessed in the courtyard, when the notorious Tajomaru the Bandit is captured and to be punished for murdering a samurai, after his lustful move towards the samurai’s beautiful wife. Five different renditions of the unfortunate and mysterious death of samurai is presented to the audience, thus leaving the tale open-ended for us to interpret the outcome. The journey towards this brutal murder in the dense forest begins with the woodcutter ….here comes the most captivating scene of the movie – the woodcutter walking through the dense forest, which seems to have tucked in some unpleasant surprise for him, the sun’s conspiratory gleam through the foliage, from the bright skies, accentuating a brooding kind of fluidity around….one has to watch the woodcutter’s walk through the forest, how the camera moves around him as if it is draping him in a mysterious weave….{link:Nobody has ever filmed forests like Kurosawa. Shooting directly into the sun to make the camera lens flare, probing the filaments of shadows in glade and clearing, rendering dense thickets as poetic metaphors for the laws of desire and karma that entrap human beings, and, above all, fashioning sensuous and hypnotic camera movements across the uneven forest floor…The Criterion says!}

The Woodcutter’s rendition-I {to the audience}: that day, certainly, grew mysterious by moment, as he stumbled upon quite a few unusual things, one after the other, say, a woman’s hat, a trampled samurai cap, a dagger sheath, and finally, the dead body of a samurai. Scared and shocked, he ran through forest to inform one about the dead body….{I liked painfully a distorted expression on his innocent looking face}        

The Monk’s recollection {to the audience}: he met the samurai and his beautiful wife in a veil riding a horse through the woods for a brief moment…{this monk forever is sad-looking. Some unknown pain and sorrow pours out from his kind eyes throughout}                                                                                                                               

The Bandit’s rendition {to the audience}: the notorious bandit claimed that if it were not for the soft breeze, he would not have considered disturbing the couple and felt passion for the samurai’s beautiful wife. He managed to “trick and rope in” the samurai and found helplessly drawn to the fiercely fighting lovely woman. He gloated over the fact that the woman succumbed to him willingly. He agreed to have an honorable duel with the samurai, as per her desire to feel free from the indignation of being with two men and to go with the survivor, and eventually he killed the samurai (with a sword), ……{so far the tale appears a straight murder, there’s a murderer, a victim, a dead body and a witness who arrived late at the scene. The murderer could be appeciated for being candid in praising the fight the samurai had put up}              

The little woman’s rendition {to the audience}: she appeared helpless, fragile and mournful, much sharp in contrast to what the bandit described her as “a beautiful woman with a spirit of fierceness”. After having been assaulted by the bandit (who fled soon after), out of shame, she requested her husband to kill her. Her husband’s cold and unsympathetic reaction at her clouded her senses, only to wake up, after a while, to the realisation that there was *dagger stuck in her husband’s chest…anguished, she claimed that she may have stabbed him out of frustration and grief.

The Dead Samurai’ rendition {to the audience}: Dead men do not tell lies, we know that! Helpless, he watched the bandit claiming his wife. Felt indignant, when she urged the bandit to kill her husband, who  refused to yield and pursued her. The disgraced samurai wailed silently in a seemingly dead forest, before he took away his life with his wife’s *dagger. We tend to trust what our eyes see, right?

The audience, in the end, would be surprised to see the key characters in uglier and sorrowful version, when the woodcutter, the prime witness finally breaks his silence and tells the whole ordeal : after having been assaulted by the bandit, the woman feels outraged when her husband refuses to consider her. Consummed by shame and hatred, she criticizes her husband {for failing to be her protector) and the bandit {for failing to accept her}. She challenges both the men to get into an honorable duel, only to find herself anguishing over her husband’s death in the bandit’s hands, eventually.  but would one ever believe this version from the woodcutter? How effortlessly truth can be varied through inserting our perceptions and distort it to our convenience? would the death of a human lose its significance when it is told in many a version?   

{An insightful analysis at Criterion! link:Rashomon has entered the common parlance of everyday culture to symbolize general notions about the relativity of truth and the unreliability, the inevitable subjectivity, of memory. In the legal realm, for example, lawyers and judges commonly speak of “the Rashomon effect” when first-hand witnesses of crime confront them with contradictory testimony}

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