Rashomon: It is difficult to start a discussion about this subject because it’s both a film AND a story framework type based on the film.
As a story framework, undoubtedly, you are familiar with a Rashomon story. It is one where there is an event and different characters tell their conflicting versions of that event.
Additionally, there may or may not be a resolution to the story. If there is no resolution, that allows the audience to decide for themselves how the story ends.
It is a nice story framework for TV because the different versions of the event can sit right between the commercials. The notable difference is that TV typically resolves the story by the end of the episode as a matter of convention.
- Police are investigating a robbery, discover the robber’s mask, John and Eddie were at the scene and claim to have witnessed it. Police get their statements
- Commercial Break
- John was walking down the street, saw the robber who looked like Eddie knock the guard over the head as he fled the scene heading north
- Commercial Break
- Eddie, was across the street, saw someone who looked like John knock the guard over the head and head south
- Commercial break
- Cops match the DNA on the mask to John; John gets arrested
- Roll credits
Now, that is a horrible example and if you’d like to use it, feel free.
As a story type, Rashomon really intrigues me because it allows you to fully explore a number of characters, their actions and motives from different angles.
Should you choose the vague ending, it forces your audience to think about and discuss the dramatic questions you raised.
Is there really any better gift you can give your audience?
When a Rashomon story is done right, it is amazing. For that, I refer you to …
“Rashomon” by Akira Kurosawa, 1950
Often cited as the reason why The Academy created the “Best Foreign Film” category, Rashomon tells the story of a bandit who either had consensual relations or raped a samurai’s wife then either honorably duels with or murders the samurai in 12th century Japan.
Happy stuff, I know.
The story is told from the perspectives of the bandit, the wife, the dead samurai through a medium and a woodcutter who witnessed the whole thing.
This is a fascinating study in the use of point of view. Kurosawa purposely did not resolve the story because wanted it to be an exploration of four witnesses accounts of an incident. Rather than he being judge and jury, he incites the audience to do that.
What Rashomon ultimately demonstrates is that, in any given situation, no one person has a monopoly on the truth, even if one was involved in that situation.
For good reason, Rashomon is one of the best films ever made and definitely one you should watch. It does not disappoint.
Rashomon – 1950
Written by: Akira Kurosawa and Shinobu Hashimoto
Based on “In a Grove” by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa
Directed by: Akira Kurosawa
- Toshiro Mifune
- Machiko Kyō
- Masayuki Mori
- Takashi Shimura
- Minoru Chiaki
Academy Award 1952 Honorary Award for “Most Outstanding Foreign Language Film”
100% Rating on Rotten Tomatoes
Playing Where? Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, Netflix DVD