RahatMadarasmi Period 5 Senior Seminar Clover The Absolute Truth Rashomon Is truth subjective, or is there only one truth? The film Rashomon by AkiraKurosawa prompts the mind to question the possibility of multiple truths asoppose to one single truth. The film is set in 12th century Japan where there hasbeen a murder and a possible rape. Four witnesses are called upon to confess ina courtroom and they each present a different story of what they believe to bethe truth. Thus, because of this, we question whether truth is subjective orabsolute. Roger Ebert and Errol Morris are two men that have two differentviews upon the matter of truth. Roger Ebert believes in the possibility of multipletruths as he feels that truth is based on how the witness perceives it to be.Because different people perceive different things differently, there will bemultiple truths, thus showing that he supports a subjective truth. Morris, on theother hand, believes in an absolute truth where there can only be one story thatactually happened. Though in the film Rashomon, Ebert’s subjective view isevident in the multiple theories presented, Morris’s theory of one absolute truthis the best way to solve the crime presented in Rashomon as there can only beone true scenario. Roger Ebert believes that truth is subjective and that it can vary. Thissupports the views of relativism and this idea of relativism allows truth to vary
according to one’s perception. Because people of different cultures may perceivethings differently, there are multiple versions of the truth. In the film Rashomon,for example, there are four different confessions made about the murder. Eachperson believes something different and believes that this is true, thus there isno absolute truth and a conclusion was never formed. According to Ebert’sanalysis of truth, all of these stories can potentially be considered the truth aseach person may have perceived the situation differently. Ebert’s theory allowssome ‘wiggle room’ when it comes to determining the truth as there can bemultiple versions of the truth. The real question is: Is this theory really effectivetowards the situation in the film Rashomon? Though the story in Rashomon neverreally comes to a conclusion, those watching the movie would want to know theresolution and thus expect an absolute truth. In contrast to the views of Roger Ebert, Errol Morris believes that truth isabsolute and objective. He, like Plato, believes that only one truth can exist andthat there can be no alternate true story.It is evident that Morris believes thiswhen he challenges the validity of something that is said officially, “Well, it goesto this whole issue: does style guarantee truth? Does printing something in theNew York Times guarantee its truth? Because it appears in a certain paper in acertain font, a certain look, can we just say that because of that fact, it’strue?”(Interview with Errol Morris). He questions whether the truth isguaranteed when it is said by official sources. Clearly he believes that there canonly be one absolute truth. The theory that Morris and Plato believe in is that forsomething to be true, it has to proven and it has to be believed by everyone.Though Roger Ebert’s theory relates directly to the plot of Rashomon with the
four alternate stories, Errol Morris’s theory of an absolute truth would be theonly way to solve the crime that occurred in the movie, as there could only havebeen one scenario and one outcome. In the film Rashomon, a murder and a rape have occurred and there arefour alleged witnesses. The dilemma is that all four witnesses each have differentstories of what they witnessed happening. It is clear that this relates entirely toRoger Ebert’s theory that there can be multiple truths depending on one’sperception. Though this may be true, generally when attempting to solve a crime,the goal is to “get to the bottom of it” or, in other words, figure out the one realtruth. Thus Errol Morris’s theory of an absolute truth is the only way that thesituation in Rashomon can be resolved and concluded. In a mystery such as this,there can only really be one occurrence and because of this, Errol Morris’s theoryof finding one absolute truth would be the only way to conclude the story inRashomon. To conclude, based on the ideas of truth and perception in the filmRashomon, Roger Ebert’s idea of a subjective truth is indeed directly related withthe film, but it is Errol Morris’s idea of an absolute truth that will really bring thedilemma to an end. The only way to convict the right person of their crime is tofind out what exactly it was that they did, and in this case, the victim of a murdercannot possibly be murdered by 4 different people in four different ways. Thus,there must be one absolute truth as to who murdered the samurai. AkiraKurosawa does a good job in portraying the possibility of multiple truths in acertain situation but the beauty of his movie really lies in the end, for he leavesthe viewer wondering as to what really happened. He allows the possibility of a
subjective truth and though this is a fascinating new way of looking at asituation, there is really only one way to solve this puzzle. Find the absolutetruth.
Works Cited“Ebert: Rashomon Review”“Interview with Errol Morris”