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Kurosawa's Film, Rashomon The purpose of this research is t

The purpose of this research is to examine Akira Kurosawa's film Rashomon with reference to two critical theories, semiology (semiotics) and deconstruction. The plan of the research will be to set forth the broad outline and context of the film, the principal components of semiotics and deconstruction as analytical theories, and then to discuss the film in respect of those theories. Throughout, reference will be made to the strengths and weaknesses of the theories as bases for discussion of the film, with a view toward effecting a synthesis that results in an enlarged understanding of it.

The pattern of events of Rashomon is quite simple: A bandit attacks a samurai and his wife. The wife is raped; the husband is killed; the bandit is tried and executed. But the texture of events, or the pattern of ideas underlying the events, is quite complex, for the story of the rape and murder is told from four points of view: the Bandit, the Wife, the Husband, and a Woodcutter who witnessed (or who says he witnessed) everything. Though the versions intersect as regards the playing of what happened, none of the versions agrees entirely with any of the others. After the stories have all been told, there is a denouement wherein the Woodcutter carries an abandoned baby home to be reared along with his several other children.

The film raises several questions relevant to the pattern of events in the film and to its psychological and philosophical implications: Who is telling truth? Who is lying? Why? Why is the truth important? Is truth relative or objective? Why should the story be told as Kurosawa tells it? What meaning lies behind elements that have nothing to do with the contradictory stories, such as the Woodcutter's adding the baby to his family? The fascination of the film goes well beyond questions directly relevant to it, and it is at this point that the methodology of film criticism becomes of note. Indeed, it is not too much to say that...

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