The film “Rashomon” directed by Akira Kurosawa is probably one of the most known Japanese films ever.

It has reached a worldwide audience and it even inspired some of the best filmmakers like George Lucas. Rashomon is even considered to be the vessel by which the Western world was introduced to Japanese cinema. Rashomon had been much used as a tool for Japanese studies. One of the figures that is much associated with Rashomon is media studies professor Scott Nygren.

Rashomon has plays a vital role in Nygren’s book “Time Frames” as he argues that Rashomon expresses Humanism, a concept much attributed to the west. Being known as a religious post-modernist, Nygren wanted to present the history of Japanese cinema as more than films that came from Japan, but as representations of a Japanese history fragmented through time. That is just understandable as it is a post-modernist belief that there are no absolute, even one unified history. the He argues that there was no outside influence that generated humanism in Japan.He even argued that the ending of the film exemplifies what he calls “modern democracy” (Nygren 112) The film had expressed the present state of consciousness of the Japanese, during Kurosawa’s time, by presenting a narration that has semblances to the social condition of postwar Japan.

The narrative of Rashomon is mostly about the (arguable) murder of a samurai. The narration is shifting from basically two divided parts. The focus of the story interchanges during the course of the whole film.One focus is set on the dilapidated Rashomon gate where the commoner, a priest, and a woodcutter are discussing about the death of the samurai along with all the controversy within it.

The other focus of the film is concerned with the different versions of testimonies regarding the death of the samurai. The movie starts with a heavy downpour in the Rashomon gate. The commoner, a priest, and a woodcutter were stranded at the gate and learned that each of them has knowledge about the samurai’s death. The woodcutter initiates the story.During the court trial, there were four differing versions that had surfaced. All of these versions were concerned about the three major characters, the dead samurai, his wife, and the bandit Tajomaru.

The bandit claims he had defeated the samurai in a fair swordfight, the wife claim that she was raped by Tajomaru and claims that she had droved the dagger through her husband’s chest, (even the ghost of the dead samurai had testified thru a medium) the samurai’s ghost claimed that he had committed suicide because if shame.At the climax of the story, the woodcutter would then reveal that what he had initially told his listeners was a lie, he claims that he in fact had witnessed the whole rape and murder. The woodcutter presented a testimony that is less favorable for the dead samurai, his wife, and Tajomaru. The intense discussion in the Rashomon gate would be interrupted by a sound of a crying baby who was abandoned in the gate. The movie will end with the woodcutter priest having good hopes for humanity Foucault had provided us with a foundation on which we can utilize if we are to relate the Japanese social conditions to the film.

Foucault had argued that the idea of history is neither unitary nor universal. Just like in Rashomon, there are various version of the truths and the search of the commoner for an absolute truth just corrupted him. The film Rashomon is dealing with what had already happened in the past. The issue of timespace comes in the narrative technique used by Kurosawa.

The focus of the film is shifting irregularly from the Rashomon gate that represents the present, and the crime scene at the woods that represents the past. This shifting from past to present creates a distortion through time.These irregular shifts through time results to the effect where the audience would unconsciously view what had happened as just happening (Nygren 12). The priest and the woodcutter initially did not adhere to Foucault’s view on history as transparent, but they had realized that chasing after an absolute truth like the commoner, would just lead them to hopelessness in mankind. Moreover, the film shows us that truths are not permanent in the context of timespace. The characters in the Rashomon gate would accept a testimony then dismiss it immediately after another is presented.

Towards the end of the film, there would be much confusion when they try to review all of the presented testimonies in search of a unified answer. The priest and the woodcutter had given up the search for a unified truth, but the samurai servant remained reluctant. That reluctance had left the samurai servant confused and corrupted. Nygren suggest that the case of the commoner is the same for those who view Japanese history as just one unified structure.

He argued that history is much like the Japanese paper art called origami, where there are multiple folded sides for one piece of paper.The concept of time in Rashomon can be considered origami-like because as the narrative develops, many folds or truths are generated. The movie had shown the audience that once in Japanese history, the country was in such depression just like in the setting of Rashomon. The version of Kurosawa is even lighter than written versions of the text. Tajomaru is portrayed as a more sinister bandit in written adaptations of the text.

He is even portrayed as a baby-eater in those other versions. The movie had given the audience an idea of what the Japanese had gone through.The dilapidated Rashomon gate the perfect representation of those depressed times. The Rashomon gate was set in the once former glorious and flourishing city shown in the movie a ruin. There is even a scene where the samurai servant would hack a piece of wood from the gate to use as firewood.

It is also suggested that the wood cutter had stolen the knife from the crime scene. The wood cutter was portrayed as a common worker and honest man. He may have stolen the knife because a source of decent income was hard during that time.But the most striking feature of the depiction of those depressed times is that a rogue bandit such as Tajomaru are roaming and even just sleeping on the sides of road paths. Furthermore, Rashomon is a very effective representation of the way of thinking of Japanese during the 1950’s, Kurosawa’s time.

The 1950’s is considered to be the golden age of Japanese cinema (Nygren 14). The 1950’s was like the renaissance version of Japan. It is presumed that the ending of humanist Rashomon represents the mindset of the Japanese. Just like Kyoto in the text, the country of Japan had been much dilapidated by the war.

The postwar Japan is set for a bright future and there’s no need to mull over the past. The search for truth is echoing throughout the whole film “who is telling the truth? ” “What is truth? ” The audiences were set to decide on their own version of truths. But in this post-modern world history should be, as Nygren puts it, not transparent (Nygren vii). He argued that there is no need to find a unified history and suggesting that finding one would only distract us from what is really important.

In the case of postwar Japan, it is to forget the past, do not fear the future, and focus on the present.