Rashomon Essay

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Kelsey Noah
Period 6
Senior Seminar
Absolute Truth in Rashomon
In the film, Rashomon by Kurosawa, a samurai's murder is told in different ways by the bandit Tajomaru, the samurai's wife, the samurai speaking through a medium, and a woodcutter, who each witnessed the murder and, apart from the woodcutter, claim to be the killer. These circumstances in the film bring up the question of whether truth is absolute or if it is subjective. Roger Ebert holds the belief that truth is subjective and depends on what a person believes. At first glance the film appears to support this Ebert's view, however once the content of the film is examined, the opposite is shown to be true. Through the similarities in the accounts given by the witnesses, the motivations each of them have for lying, and the impossibility of multiple truths, it can be seen that Errol Morris's view that there is only one absolute truth is correct.

The similarities between the stories told by the different witnesses show that there is an absolute truth. The stories of both the bandit and the woodcutter include a sword fight between the bandit and the samurai, ending with the samurai being killed in the same location and in the same way. The samurai and the wife each tell different stories, but the similarities between the other two accounts show that is likely what really happened. The stories may have been embellished some, for example the bandit says he remembers exactly how many times they crossed swords, but the base story is consistent in each. Another similar element between the stories is that in the bandit's, the samurai's and the woodcutter's accounts, it is the wife who encourages them to fight for her. They are lying in other areas of their stories because their reactions from the wife's request differ, but the wife provoking the fight can probably be taken as truth. The wife is the only one who tells that part of the story differently, which brings into question the reliability...
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