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  1. 1. Kristin CoadSenior Seminar 4September 20, 2010To what extent do you agree with the views of either Errol Morris or Roger Ebert withregard to their views of truth and perception in the film Rashomon?In the early 1950’s, Akira Kurosawa directed one of the first international films; this was aJapanese film called Rashomon. What made this movie different from any other, is that thestudio so greatly disliked the film, that they took their name off of the final piece. Later on, thefilm went and won numerous awards including: Blue Ribbon Award, Mainichi Film Concours, 24 thAcademy Awards and many more. The basic idea of the story is that there is murder with fourdifferent cases made from a wood cutter, the wife, a bandit and the deceased of a samurai. Allof these people have different perceptions of what really happened during the murder, which isled to an unknown ending of the murder, and without a confident suspect. After the film, theviews of Roger Ebert, and Errol Morris were thought after, and chose the best fitting viewregarding Rashomon.A commonly known relativist, film critic, and screenwriter, Roger Ebert, believes that “there isno such thing as absolute truth that exists in an objective way independent of what anyonehappens to believe is true” (van de Lagmaat 10). In other words, people have their own personalviews about reality which may be different for others. Just because that they’re true for you,doesn’t automatically mean that they are true for someone else. Another aspect of relativism,there is no ground for concluding that one opinion is better than another, thus makingeverything fair game or views equal in value. The way that this view regards the famousinternational film, Rashomon, is that because of all the different stories, it makes it harder forone to come to an absolute conclusion saying that one is right and that one is wrong. Becausethe wife believes in her own story of the murder, so does the bandit, wood cutter and thesamurai, making each testimony true in their own perception. Since Ebert believes that “thegenius of “Rashomon” is that all of the flashbacks are both true and false” it concludes his strongview supporting that there is no one certain truth (Ebert). Roger Ebert has a strong view of thisfilm with relativism; Errol Morris’s view of the same movie is just as strong.
  2. 2. Errol Morris’ views regarding the film Rashomon are completely different from Eberts,because Morris more of an absolutist. This means that he believes that there is one certain truthor one certain answer, and everything else must be false. In the film, his view would be playedinto view by each of the characters, a wood cutter, the wife, a bandit and the deceased samurai,because naturally people tend to think that their views are generally right rather than beingwrong. So each one of the stories would be true to the extent of the persons own perceptions,and no one else’s perception would be correct. With that, Morris concludes that there is anabsolute truth for the murder mystery, though no one has vested into the other possibilities.Concluding with Morris and Ebert’s views of perception regarding the film Rashomon, it is clearthat Morris’ view makes little to no sense. After watching the film and reading both articles, it became evident that Roget Ebert’sview of reality and perception regarding the Japanese film Rashomon made more sense thanErrol Morris’. This is because Ebert believes in a more relative perception where as Morris ismore of an absolutist. What this means is that Ebert believes that there is no absolute truth,where as, Morris believes that there is an absolute reality, that only one perception of a certainsituation could be true. Ebert’s relativism outlook applies more to Rashomon because eachcharacter believes in what they saw, making for multiple truths and multiple falsities. No onesperception of the film is wrong according the Ebert, but neither one is absolutely true. Becauseof this outlook, it is easier to view the film and the different stories from each person who wasbeing interviewed by the judge. The only downside of this view is that there is no obviousanswer to the murder, but if the film was viewed with more ideas of an absolutist, there wouldbe and answer. The intention of the ending and overall idea of the film was completely intentional bythe writer and director. With four different sides of one story, it is hard to come to a conclusionof which one is believed to be right. Roger Ebert, a relativist, believes that there is no absolutetruth, though there is reality. This relates to Rashomon in the sense that no one story isabsolutely true and is the answer to the murder, but there are personal truths and falsities.However, Errol Morris believes differently with the fact that his views are that there is oneabsolute truth, and everything must therefore be false. With that, it leads to the conclusion thatthere is only one answer to the mystery: people have the tendency to not want to know the
  3. 3. truth. Even after evaluating both sides, it is clear that Ebert’s view of reality and perceptionmakes much more sense to Rashomon, rather than Morris, who believes in absolute truth.