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  • 1. Heejoo Jung Senior Sem per. 7 Mr. CloverTo what extent do you agree with the views of either Errol Morris or Roger Ebert with regard to the film Rashomon? Rashomon is a Japanese movie directed by Akira Juroawa in 1950 based on a crimedealing with a death of samurai and rape of his wife with four characters, the samurai, thewife, the bandit, the woodcutter. Each character is claiming four different contradictingtestimonies to the judge. The testimonies do not agree with each other and what exactlyhappened is not shown until the film ends. What the characters say to the judge is theinformation that they got through their different perceptions on their experience, and that’swhy the testimonies are different as each character tells. One thing important is that eachtestimony is biases on each character. As it can be inferred from what is going on in this film,this film is quite significant that it examines the process of understanding our environmentand what we see and the interpretation of information based on what we sensed. The fact thatthis film creates arguments of truth and reality through different testimonies that do not agreeeach other brought the two critics Errol Morris and Roger Ebert to two different positions.Morris states that there is only one absolute truth, and reality and perception are objective. Onthe other hand, Ebert concludes that those are subjective and related to each independentindividual so that multiple truths can exist as the different perceptions block completeinformation. It is true that both views fit for this crime, but Roger Ebert’s position is betterregard to Rashomon, and perception and emotions support the view of Roger Ebert. Errol Morris states that one absolute truth with objective reality. His positioncorresponds with Plato’s theory that says only one truth exists no matter how manyinterpretation to a situation through different perceptions. He says that “…that there is noreality, that truth is up for grabs, or that truth is subjective, I find foolish andunappetizing.”(Interview with Errol Morris), showing that he believes that truth is an absolute
  • 2. Heejoo Jung Senior Sem per. 7 Mr. Cloverthing. Thus, an utter reality exists while it can differ to each person by different way ofperceiving. As we can see from the film, Rashomon, it focuses on showing several differentperceptions instead of investigating the crime. Still, Morris continues to say that “There issuch a thing as truth, but we have a vested interest in not seeing it, in avoiding it” (Interviewwith Errol Morris), which means that the characters used selective perception to get theconclusion that they want to get while they stop observing the actual reality. For thosereasons, Morris says that this movie is about how different perception affect on the wayindividuals interpret the environment, and it disputes Morris’ position that says there is anabsolute truth and objective reality and brings Ebert’s view that truth is subject as a betterpoints for this case. Roger Ebert claims that reality is subjective when truth is relative, and that way, it ispossible to get multiple truths. His position is that truth differs from every person, since it isaffected by many factors, such as perception. However, the fact that makes his position fits tothis film is that he accepts all the truth from the people, even though they don’t agree witheach other. He said the flashbacks that the characters used to explain what happened are true“in that they present an accurate portrait of what each witness thinks happened.” This meansthat he considers every different testimony as truth, because that is what the witness believeshappened. He states a reason of this multiple truth saying that “Human beings are unable tobe honest with themselves about themselves. They cannot talk about themselves withoutembellishing.” According to what he said, it is impossible for us to be honest for everythingabout ourselves. He also states that “Because we see the events in flashbacks, we assume theyreflect truth. But all they reflect is a point of view, sometimes lied about.” Here, selectivity ofperception works to support his statement. He said what the flashbacks reflect is a point ofview, which come from what we saw and through our perception. According to selectivity ofperception, in the process of our observation and perception, we tend to select what to
  • 3. Heejoo Jung Senior Sem per. 7 Mr. Cloverperceive, which results in the lack of the whole information that is given from the situation.Mostly, the information is selected by how it stands out from other. For example, dropping asmall stuff on the patterned carpet makes you hard to find it while dropping a tiny of blood onwhite carpet is pretty big deal. This works in this crime in that each character’s point of viewwas different and the information that stands out to each person differs from each other. Thatway, the truth for each person differs from each other, as selectivity of perception works.Thus, Ebert’s view that multiple truths exist when reality is subjective fits to the filmRashomon. There is another factor that supports Ebert’s position that truth is subjective.According to the previous paragraph, Ebert’s statement was that there are multiple truthsdiffered by the factors that blocks complete information such as perception. Another factorthat affects our memory, which creates biased story, our emotion. There are also two viewson emotion, emotion helps understanding or emotion makes us not to understand properly.However, in either way, emotion affects on our mental and perception. There are manydifferent emotions, happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust. Among thoseemotions, the emotion of fear mostly appears in this film. In a good way, positive emotionbrings energy up, but this positive emotion doesn’t come up in this film. On the other hand,emotion can be obstacle to perception, reason, or language. Our perceptions can be biased byour emotions. For example, if we are fear of something in front of us, we may see that thingbigger, more horrible, more serious and scarier. Like this example, the characters may sawthe situation under the biased view of points by the emotion, fear. The wife was in fear of thebandit and her husband, the bandit was happy that he had the woman that he wanted, thesamurai was angry that he saw his wife raped and the wood cutter was surprised and fearabout the situation happening in front of him. Thus, according to the theory of emotion, itwas obvious that all four characters got four different stories. Morris would not accept all of
  • 4. Heejoo Jung Senior Sem per. 7 Mr. Cloverthose stories as truth, but in Ebert’s position those are all truth themselves. Ebert says that“Perhaps the emotions evolved in that forest clearing are so strong and fearful that theycannot be translated into rational explanation”, which means that the strong emotion exist inthe forest may block the full of information so that the characters come up with differenttestimonies. Therefore, supported by the theory of emotion, Ebert’s view on the multipletruths is better to explain the film, Rahomon, than Morris’ absolute truth. According to the reviews on the Japanese film, Rashomon, with the views towardtruth and reality, Roger Ebert’s position applies better than Errol Morris’ position does, sinceit includes the perceptions from one incident that are different considerably and multiple. Inhis opinion, each story that each character tells is the truth. Rather say that one of them isright and the others are wrong, Ebert concludes that the truth is subjective that differs fromthe difference in perception and emotion that the teller has and there are all of the stories thatthe characters told are truths in their own perception and memory. Therefore, Roger Ebert’sview of truth and reality best applies to the Akira Kurosawa’s1950 film, Rashomon.