‘Rashomon’ portrays flashbacks unlike any other, and explains how flashbacks are about both the truth and the false. The truth is presented through the events the witnesses think took place or experienced. The false aspect however, comes in as Kurosawa explains how human beings are wired in a way that they can never tell stories involving them without using manipulation.
The other thing that is absolutely hard to miss is the phenomenal skill of the actors in the film. For someone who is alien to the language of the film, it usually becomes hard to understand what is really going on, however in ‘Rashomon’, despite it being in Japanese and the subtitles being off, it is relatively easy to understand what is going on because of the exaggerated acting of the actors. The acting is so expressive and it may not necessarily explain every detail of the plot, but one can say that language is no longer a great barrier. Also, the film was more or less silent and based on the actions and emotions rather than the dialogues. This is similar to a silent film, and for this reason it is easier for an alien viewer to comprehend too.
The setting also plays an extremely important role in portraying the behavior of the characters and to get a better understanding of the plot! In my opinion there are two distinct settings, that of the wilderness and that of the temple. There is a clear difference in the behavior of the characters in the wilderness and that in the temple. I find that since the rape and the murder both take place in the forest too, it throws light on the fact that the behavior in the wilderness is not controlled, and rather savage. Whereas the behavior in the temple is more composed and sane. This leads me to my next point, which is that often our surrounding has a great impact on us and almost has a direct effect on our environment. The behavior of the two men fighting in the forest reminded me of savages. It was as though all their emotions and feelings had touched the surface and they were no longer in any state to behave in a composed manner. This is very similar to another film I had watched, called “Heart of darkness” by Joseph Conrad. Just like in that film, ‘Rashomon’ too, reveals layers of human behavior.
There are also humorous moments intertwined in the film to break the serious mood, almost acting like a comic relief. The entire film is shot in black and white, which serves as a gloomy atmosphere, but also highlights the darkness of the events that take place in the movie. The director has paid attention to every small detail in the movie, be it the setting, the use of dialogues, the importance of the seasons etc. For instance, the movie opens with the scene of heavy rainfall; this may or may not be foreboding and suggestive of the darkness of the events that may take place.