Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1995 .J36 1987
Jarvie's chapter Rashomon: Is Truth Relative? discusses the film from a philosophical standpoint and examines what he calls the "Rashomon problem" as proposed by the film in the 1950's - simply, which person's storyline described in the film is true? Or is it even that none of them true as they are all mutually exclusive? Kurosawa does not imply that the samurai did not exist, or that the wife did not lose her husband. Instead, the construction of events, based on single-person perception tells "truths" based on their individual points-of-view.
In Rashomon, the audience is deliberately given too much information. They cannot coherently piece together the contradictory details and create a cogent picture of what happened. Jarvie argues that the film is more than only the truth relative to a point of view; it is also about each reality that the subjective truths attempt to describe and how those truths are interpreted through the character's perception of events.
Kurosawa uses several film techniques to show different points-of-view in Rashomon. He knows that the audience is able to transition across cuts to deduce what is going on; techniques such as eyeline matching, seamless sound, and complementary point-of-view shots, enable the audience is able to fill in the gaps between cuts. But Jarvie argues that Kurosawa goes beyond these simple editing tricks by showing the audience that in one setting, events are presented in a manner in which the mind cannot reconstruct. Hence, transitioning is made difficult, and the audience's sense of reality is thwarted. This effect is intentional and induces the audience to think about relativity in truth.
In addition, Kurosawa plays with point-of-view through the film's cinematography. Although each story is told from a first-person perspective, the cuts in the scene and the shifting of the camera do not make it clear who is speaking. The eye-witness is not in a fixed position, as to be assumed in first-person, and the point of view is shifted from one eye-witness to several. This freedom in filming that Kurosawa incorporates makes Rashomon even more of a challenge to the audience to view the chain of events as truth, which the audience may never solve.