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Rashamon : Truth and Perception

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  • 1. Robin F. SolomonSenior Seminar P.8September 19, 2010 Truth and Perception, RashamonEssay Question : To what extent do you agree with the views of either ErrolMorris or Roger Ebert with regard to their views of truth and perception in thefilm Rashomon? The movie Rashomon is a 1950 dramatic crime mystery film directed byJapanese film maker Akira Kurosawa . The movie had introduced Kurosawa tospread Japanese film making to the western audiences at that time. The moviedepicts a woman that has been raped and the death of her Samurai husband. Thestory explores the eyewitness accounts and it is shown through a flashback ofthe following four characters, The Bandit, the wife of the Samurai, the murderedsamurai and the woodcutter. Errol Morris believes that the film is not about thesubjectivity of truth and in the film the witness is covering up for another personto make himself look good. Errol Morris and Roger Ebert views of truth andperception in the film Rashomon represents confirmation bias, visual perceptionand point of view. Errol Morris views on the film Rashomon does depicts confirmation biasbecause evidence is only noticeable to things that support our beliefs.Confirmation bias is a concept of selective thinking where one tends to believe intheir own beliefs and they ignore the value of those whose ideas arecontradictory to theirs. For example, according to the woodcutters story, heexplained to the commoner that the samurais story was a lie. He originallywitnessed the rape and murder and therefore he didn’t want to get too involvedduring the trial. 1
  • 2. In addition to confirmation bias, the film also supports his view on visualperceptions such as Eye Witness Testimony. When it comes to criminal trials,eyes witness testimony indeed does act as a big role because certain evidencecould determine if someone is pledged guilty or not. In the movie, the wife’sstory is that the bandit abandoned her after she gets raped. She asks herhusband for forgiveness. She then freed him and begged him to kill her so thatshe would be at peace. He continued to stare at her with a look of loathing. Hisexpression disturbed her so much that she fainted with dagger in hand. Sheawoke to find her husband dead with the dagger in his chest. She attempted tokill herself, but failed in all her efforts. However, Roger Ebert supports a different view. He explains that since1950, flashbacks have been a common method to express what might havehappened before. The showing of flashbacks might not agree with any objectivereality. When viewers see flashbacks in films, it is assumed that it reflect truthand in actuality it just reflects point of view and that could be lied about. In thefilm Rashomon, all of the flashbacks could be both true and false. In conclusions both veiws of Roger Ebert and Errol Morris could besupported in various ways. For example, the film depicted their views in visualperceptions, confirmation bias and also point of view. 2