Josh Swanda<br />Senior Seminar Period 2<br />May 22, 2011<br />Clover<br />The Truth of a Subjective Reality;<br />Rashom...
Rashomon Essay
Rashomon Essay
Rashomon Essay
Rashomon Essay
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Rashomon Essay

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Rashomon Essay

  1. 1. Josh Swanda<br />Senior Seminar Period 2<br />May 22, 2011<br />Clover<br />The Truth of a Subjective Reality;<br />Rashomon<br />Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 film, Rashomon, was quite significant as it examined the topic of perception, which is the process of understanding our environment and experiences by the organization and interpretation of information from our senses. The film revolves around the case dealing with the death of the samurai and rape of his wife and includes four characters, the samurai, the wife, the bandit, and the woodcutter, who exclaim their contradicting conclusions of the case to the judge, the viewer, which they have gathered through their different perceptions toward what happened. This film, with its connection to perception, brings about arguments of truth and reality that can be seen differently from the critics Errol Morris and Roger Ebert. Regarding these arguments, Morris concludes in an absolute truth while reality and perception are objective for all, where Ebert, on the other hand, believes they are subjective and relative to each independent individual. Simplistically, Morris states there is only one truth regardless of the various perceptions and Ebert states multiple truths can exist because the different perceptions creates a lack of complete information. Although both views are sufficiently supported and cannot be proven or unproven, Roger Ebert’s idea of a subjective reality and relative truth relates better to Rashomon than Errol Morris’ idea since there are multiple, contradicting perceptions of one incident.<br />Errol Morris makes the claim that there is an absolute truth and reality is objective for all meaning that only one truth can exists by which everyone will agree. He says that he does “not believe that truth is subjective,” because “just thinking something does not make it so” (Interview with Errol Morris). This corresponds with Plato who theorized that only one truth exists even though there may be a number of accounts to a situation through different perceptions. Morris continues to disclaim subjective reality stating that the “idea that there is no reality, that truth is up for grabs, or that truth is subjective, I find foolish and unappetizing” (Interview with Errol Morris). So, there is an ultimate reality of the world although it differs to individuals by how they perceive it. Of Rashomon, Morris states that it is a story “about self-interest, about wishful thinking, about self-deception, about people imagining scenarios at variance with the truth” (Interview with Errol Morris). Even though the film is not looking to find who the murderer is, but rather looking at the various perceptions to the murder, he still claims that the “truth exists, but people have a vested interest of not knowing it” (Interview with Errol Morris). This means that the characters are using selective perception, which is using their perception to suit their needs rather than observing actual reality. Therefore, he is arguing that this film is about how individuals perceive the world differently with different experiences, which discredits Morris’ idea of an absolute truth and objective reality making Ebert’s view of subjectivity more dominant in this case.<br />Rather than agreeing with Morris in an absolute truth and objective reality, Roger Ebert makes the claim for a subjective reality where truth is all but absolute and is instead relative. In believing that truth differs from person to person based on their realm of consciousness, all events beyond an individual’s perceiving conscious is not truth, as it does not exist. However, this is not to say that each person cannot perceive different events at different times, therefore, truth is only relative to the individual. More simply, Ebert believes that multiple truths can exists where two individuals can possess different truths because they differ in their perceptions. This becomes clear when he makes the claim that “all of the flashbacks are both true and false” (Ebert: Rashomon Review). Furthermore, Ebert claims that none of the self proclaimed murderers had a motive to lie, stating that “it is unlike any of the original participants are lying for their own advantage, since each claims to be the murderer”, this statement is made and supported even after Ebert acknowledges that “the stories are in radical disagreement” (Ebert: Rashomon Review). The idea of a subjective reality in the film Rashomon is apparent in Ebert’s perspective as he declares that the woodcutter “is traveling into another realm of reality” (Ebert: Rashomon Review). This proves that Ebert does in fact support the idea of multiple realities, based on the perceptions and ventures of the individual in question. Ergo, not only does Ebert contradict Morris’s theory of an absolute truth in Rashomon, but it can be applied better as there are multiple perceptions of truth conceived from the same incident.<br />Due to the fact that Rashomon revolves around multiple perceptions with relative truths, where each character holds their own view of the truth, Ebert’s idea of subjectivity can be better applied than Morris’ absolute truth and objective reality. We find throughout the film that each story of the murder is incredibly plausible, thus making it impossible to figure an overall truth to support the crime. Due to this directed stance made by Kurosawa, it is clear that a subjective reality is apparent, and each self claimed murderer is true in their own realm of consciousness. The question of analyzing which view, Morris’ or Ebert’s, best represents the views of truth and perception in this film is most feasibly answered with a relative truth fitting the differing perceptions of all the tales in Rashomon. Each perspective of the case is true as “they present an accurate portrait of what each witness thinks happened” (Ebert:Rashomon Review). However, Ebert also makes the claim that they are false to an extent, as he states that Kurosawa believes "Human beings are unable to be honest with themselves about themselves. They cannot talk about themselves without embellishing", therefore, each flashback is tampered with to some extent, based on the personal embellishments of the self-convicted murderers. With the question in mind, and Ebert’s theory in perspective, it is safe to say that Roger Ebert’s idea of a subjective reality accompanied by a relative truth best suits the varying perceptions of Kurosawa’s film, Rashomon.<br />In reference to the views of truth and perception residing in the film, Rashomon, Roger Ebert’s idea of a subjective reality and relative truth applies better than Errol Morris’ idea, seeing that there are multiple, contradicting perceptions of one incident. Each tale tells the truthful perceptions of each individual’s recount of the murder and the events leading up to it. The word “Rashomon” itself is used in the “Rashomon Effect” which blatantly emphasizes the subjectivity of perception on recollection, in which each individual produces substantially different, yet equally plausible accounts of an event. In Rashomon, the Rashomon Effect is significantly apparent. Therefore, in regards to Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 film, Rashomon, Roger Ebert’s view of a subjective reality and a relative truth best applies to support the views of multiple truths and perceptions. <br />Works Cited<br />“Ebert: Rashomon Review”<br /> “Interview with Errol Morris”<br />“The Rashomon Effect” Prism 4/12/2010. 5/22/2011 – 5/23/2011 <br /><http://www.prismdecision.com/the-rashomon-effect><br />

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