Intro to PHI
The Philosophy of Rashomon
The 1950 film “Rashomon” – directed by famed Japanese filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa – is about an incident of violence and depravity that takes place some time around Feudal-era Japan, told through the perspectives of four different people, all witnesses to the incident. As such, it is a compelling story that bases itself upon the philosophies of Justice and the problem of Moral Relativism and how human experiences are often remembered and retold personal bias and absolute truths can be a difficult thing to reveal, if they exist at all. The film starts with the entry of three characters: A woodcutter, a commoner, and a monk. The latter two act as listeners to the woodcutter’s recollection of the incident and the trial that took place afterward. The first version of the story, as told by the bandit Tajomaru, depicts the bandit descending upon a woman and her husband as they are travelling along roads after being stricken with lust. He lures the husband into the woods, claiming to have swords to sell him, and captures him in a clearing. He then goes back to have his way with the woman and is stricken with envy when she expresses concern for her husband. To demean the husband and sway her affections, he brings her to the grove in which her husband was roped. She falls for the bandit and insists one of them die, as she couldn’t bare having two men know of her shame, and he and the husband fight fairly to the death. Tajomaru’s story is dramatic, action-filled and fits the tale of a heartless, violent warrior. The second version comes from the perspective of the wife, Masako, who claims that after the attack, the bandit Tajomaru, satisfied, had turned to leave. When Masako ran to her husband, crying tearfully, she looked into his eyes and saw only his disdain for her. Overwhelmed with shame, she freed her husband and offered her dagger and told him to kill her, but he only glared. She then...
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