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Rashomon is a film which allows you to come up with your own ending. You are told four stories, all completely different from one another, but about the same thing. As the viewer, you are to come up with your own truth. Also you are then forced to see why people may lie or embellish. Whether it be to keep themselves out of trouble or make themselves seem as if they are a better person then they really are. The reality is that we are no better then what people think we are. This is because we are unable to judge ourselves. We are unable be honest with ourselves. We are unable to see ourselves in a bad light without having made up some excuse. We try to justify everything that it is that we may do, so not to damage our egos. It is our egos which keep us like this. It is our egos which make us feel good, so we are going to do anything to keep our ego at a high point. Why is it that we are willing to lie so that we don’t have to see who we really are? What is it about ourselves that we wish not to see? Maybe it is the fact that we all want to be viewed as this perfect person that can do no wrong and make no mistakes. So we embellish on our own behalf in order to hide our imperfections, our mistakes.
All four of these stories have one thing in common; they are told in such a way that the teller is justified in whatever he or she may have done. In each story, except for the last, the teller was the murderer. Admitting to the murder they all did and blaming someone else for their own actions, they did too. As for the last storyteller, he did not kill anyone, but he stole the dagger and lied to the police. Unable to allow their egos to drop to low, they all told a riveting story of how they were not at fault. The only question here is before asking where the truth lies, is how is it possible for four people to come up with such extremely different tales to tell? People will say anything in order to cover up the truth if they are at fault in some way or another.
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Tajomaru, the bandit, was the first story to be heard. In his story, he tells us that he had no intention of killing the man, but he had to for the woman. Even though it was he, himself who committed this crime, if not for the woman it would have never taken place. He begins in blaming the woman for her husband’s death. He also made the man’s death seem as if it was honorable because he fought well. By saying that the man had died an “honorable death”, he was trying to convince us that the murder was justified. While trying make us believe his truth, he was trying to make himself out to be the better person. It is the human ego which makes us want to lie about ourselves. “It’s human to lie. Most of the time we can’t even be honest with ourselves”, states the commoner after hearing Tajomaru’s story. We never want to be looked at for being the bad person, so we embellish on our own behalves. As human beings, our ego is the only thing that makes us feel good about ourselves. If we have to lie to others in order to enlarge it, there is nothing that is going to stop us from doing so. This is why we cannot be honest with ourselves. No one wants to see themselves for who they really are. As for Tajomaru, he knows that he is a criminal, so he will make his status in the world as good as it can be; even if he is the only one who believes it.
He tells a very good story of what it is that supposedly happened. He admits to murdering the man and stealing his sword and arrows, so why is it that we cannot believe him? It is because of the woman. The woman comes to tell her story and makes everyone question what they had once believed. She tells her story just as well as Tajomaru’s, but she makes herself out to be the victim rather than her husband, the man who was murdered, whom she had murdered. After Tajomaru had his way with her and left the woods, her husband gave her this look of loathing. So ashamed for what had happened, she asks him to kill her, but he would not. She walks toward him her dagger in hand and then faints. The next thing she knows is that her husband is dead with her dagger in his chest. She then tells the court that she tried numerous numbers of times to kill herself in the pond, but she was unsuccessful, and states, “What should a poor, helpless woman like me do?” That is all she needs to gain sympathy from those listening. She was just the victim. Yes, she killed her husband, but she didn’t know what was happening at the time of the murder because she had fainted. She is not at fault though because she grieves for her husband that is dead and wishes death upon herself, due to what happened. After hearing her story, the commoner states, “But women use their tears to fool everybody. They even fool themselves.” So is it all an act or is she really feeling the pain which she speaks of? The truth, once again is up to you to decide, but as for her ego, it is something that can be worked with. With this story, she is making herself out to be a better person then what she really is. By saying that she would rather die then live after knowing what she had done, allows for there to be room for forgiveness because she feels horrible for killing her husband. This only stands if her story is true.
Through the use of a medium, the next story that we hear is the one of the murdered man. The priest cannot believe that a dead man would lie. We question, after hearing his story, why he would have a reason to lie? Why shouldn’t we believe his story? What does he have to hide from now that he is gone? He claims to have killed himself, but yet is able to blame his wife for his death and his afterlife, in a dark hell. His story makes you want to hate the woman for what she has done. Instead of being the victim as she was in her story, she is the one at fault for everything that has occurred. His story is his own reality of what has happened. He felt that there was no longer any reason to live because of what his wife had done. He asks himself how he could live with having loved a woman, who could ever want her own husband died? This is very shocking to hear that a woman would want her husband died. Because of this thought, no one wants her. Now he is only to worry about his own fate, whether to live or die? By himself in the woods, he is crying and doesn’t know what to do. If he were to live, he would live in shame because he was unable to protect himself and his wife from the crime which took place. He chooses death. He feels as if it is the only honorable way to die after the crimes that were committed. What to believe really happened is hard to find.
We are then to find out that the woodcutter was a witness to the murder, making him more believable then the rest. His story though is his own version of reality just as the others. He blames the woman for the death of the man because she is the one who starts the fight among the man and Tajomaru. In this story, before the woman speaks, neither of the men want her. They realize that she is nothing but a whore. She is able to convince them that they are the ones that are weak, making them want to fight each other. They are not fighting for her though, but for their manhood. Here the man is killed by Tajomaru, but for nothing but his own life.
After hearing these stories, man is thought of as selfish, dishonest, and unable to admit their faults. Even the woodcutter didn’t tell the police his story because he wished for no one to know about his own fault. His fault being for after witnessing this murder he takes the dagger and tells no one. Everyone is out for survival. This is learned in the end of the film. A baby was found at the gate of Rashomon by the commoner, who steals the clothes for himself. The woodcutter realizes then that he is just as bad as the commoner by stealing the dagger. Wishing to make up for what he has done, he restores faith in man for the priest by taking the baby into his own hands. The reality of truth will never be know, but we must have faith in one another.