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Demons of Rashomon

            Rashomon is a Japanese crime drama film directed by Akira Kurosawa, adapted from the two short stories "Rashomon" and "In a Grove", written by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. The film uses multiple narrators to tell the story of the death of a samurai. The storytelling and narration is twofold in the film, with men intermittently shown sitting under Rashomon gate for shelter from the rain, discussing the investigation done by the police into the death of the samurai, while a film portrayal of the actual events takes the spotlight. The police bring in several people to testify: the man who reported the crime, the bandit accused murderer, the widow of the murdered man, and a shaman through which the police could communicate with the dead man himself. The main motif of the story is the unreliable narrator, with the testimonies from each witness repeatedly called into question. The premise of the film is therefore a discussion into whether or not people are fundamentally unscrupulous liars. Perspectives change constantly in the film as the same event is told of in four different ways, with all accounts given to be plausible when considered independently of each other, but when considered in the greater context are seen as very suspicious. What actually resulted in this samurai's death is unimportant, because the story isn't important. What is important is Kurosawa's way of storytelling. Kurosawa's filming style forces the viewer to confront the uncomfortable and depraved reality discussed in the story. By presenting in somewhat graphic fashion the various purported causes of the samurai's death, the viewer is forced to come to grips with the fact humans do indeed act maliciously when it can benefit them, throwing the idea of wholly virtuous beings under scrutiny. .
             In analyzing Kurosawa's filming style, it is important to note a pivotal event in his childhood. In the aftermath of the 1923 Tokyo Earthquake, Kurosawa and his older brother viewed the absolute carnage from a high spot away from the city.

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