Siripong SomboonNovember 18, 2011Senior Seminar Period 6 Rashomon Essay Rashomon is a Japanese film made in 1950 directed by Akira Kurosawa. It isconsidered one of Akira’s masterpieces. The plot of the film revolves around the death ofa samurai and the rape of the samurai’s wife. The story of the 4 witnesses: the bandit, thewoodcutter, the wife and the samurai are presented to the court. All their stories vary inmany ways; the audiences are left to judge for ourselves what the truth really is and whois actually telling the truth. There are two views of truth and reality from two differentcritics: Errol Morris and Roger Ebert. Morris believes that truth is objective, and there isonly one real truth. Where Ebert, on the other hand, believes that truth are subjective andit depends on the perception of a person. In other words, Ebert believes that there can bemultiple truths because of different perceptions and lack of information. Although bothcritics have a point, Morris’s idea of “one truth” fits Rashomon the best. Morris is an absolutist; he believes that there is only one absolute truth. InRashomon, according to Morris, there can only be one truth no matter what the witnessessay. Since there is only one dagger, there can only one person who killed the samurai.Two people cannot kill a samurai using one dagger. Even though the identity of themurderer was never found, it does not change the fact that one person killed the samurai.Morris would believe that no matter what anybody say, if it is true that one person killed
the samurai, then you know that the person killed the samurai (K = T). This is different toPlato’s K= JTB, where the truth do not has to be justified or believed to be knowledge.Morris’ idea of absolute truth can be shown by Plato’s allegory of the cave. The people inthe cave only see the shadows of people passing by and they view it as the truth. When aprisoner got released, he comes to realize that the shadows on the wall are not reality atall, because he now knows the real “truth” and reality. The allegory of the cave showsthat even though there can be different perspective of an event, there will still be onetruth. However, on the other hand, Ebert claims that truth is subjective and relative, andthe four suspects have different perspective of what happened, thus all different views aretrue. Ebert would believe that the characters’ selective perception made their version ofthe story different because they chose to see only what they wanted to see. Each characteralso has confirmation bias and a certain mental map that may lead them to view the eventdifferently. For example, the wife claims that she was raped while the bandit claims thatthe wife is willing to have an affair with him. The wife’s mental map and emotional stateof fear may cause her to view that the bandit rapes her. While the bandit may view that hedidn’t raped her, the wife let him do it. It’s true that each person has different perceptionof things and has different mind maps, but by using Ebert relative truth idea, there will bea lot of uncertainties. By using Morris’ idea of truth, many uncertainties can be eliminated and limited.Though Ebert may believe that the truth is subjective, when it comes to finding theanswer of what really happened to the samurai and his wife, Ebert’s idea would lead us
nowhere. If Morris’ idea of one truth is used, then this limitation would be eliminated.Language is also one of the uncertainties for finding the solution to this murder. Ebertmay say that someone’s language can be viewed differently thus there can be differenttruths. By using Morris’ idea of absolute truth, the uncertainties of having many truthfrom the use of language can be limited, because Morris believe that if you know that it’strue then it’s true, you do not have to use other things such as belief or motive to justifyit. Using Morris’ idea, even though we have limited evidence on things such as thecharacters’ motive, eye-witness testimony, or the 5 senses, we can still can get the truth,because Morris’ idea does not take in consideration of belief or motive. The film, Rashomon, by Akira Kurosawa raises many arguments on who’s tellingthe truth and what is truth. Although Ebert has a point saying that truth is relative anddepends on the perception of a person, ultimately, Morris’s idea of absolute truth wouldbest fit Rashomon. There are a lot of uncertainties in finding the murderer if Ebert’s ideais used. By using Morris’ idea, these uncertainties can be eliminated or limited. Softevidence such as motive and belief are not needed in order the find the real “truth”.Even though it’s not clear who’s the person that killed the samurai, however usingMorris’ idea of truth would definitely pull you closer to the solution of this problem.