How does ‘Rashomon’ (Kurosawa, 1951) portray postwar Japan and address the need to reflect on the past and look to the future?
You should reference the opening and ending of the film as well as considering a key moment or sequence from the middle of the film.
Address the distinctiveness of Film Form in the Japanese Golden Age, narrative content, social/political contexts, themes, messages and values and issues of representation (women, men, social mores, Samurai).
The opening of rashomon it starts of with montage of shots showing different images of where the film is set, there are diagonal lines shown through wood this reflects the complicated and disturbing situation japan is it after the war, Also the director of the film Kurosawa, was also an abstract artist so he likes to reflect abstract shapes into his film. There is a establishing shot of the Japaneses hut this instantly shows the audience the after effects of the war shown through the hut building as it is destroyed. the sets the scene with the pouring of rain this reflects the pathetic fallacy of the situation, as the guys are feeling down about reflecting on war and how men are supposedly all lairs. The rain stops as they are talking shows that what their talking about should be focused on. The Slow editing used also reflects the sad slow mood. There is a long shot used this is a typical micro feature of a Japanese film, as The extreme long shot was first invented by the western genre typically the “lonerider”, occupies a small ratio of the screen space in relation to the setting or their surroundings. In the extreme long shot the screen space is filled primarily with the surroundings: in the western genre this is a panoramic view of a desolate plain, mountain or valley, its been used in rashomon as the men are sitting in the background under the hut with the rain pouring down in front of them it is illustrating the barren, harsh environment an antagonist is set in; thereby explaining his psychological state. The continuous theme of death is introduced straight away in the dialogued used by the men in this scene, words such as “war” “death”. Theatrical ways of filming and diagonal have been used this reflects another typical theme of Japanese films, it shows the over exaggeration of characters acting and the use if close ups. It makes it clear to the audience what the actors emotion is. Low key lighting has been used this also reflects the sad mood. The middle sequence Im going to focused on is when the Samaria is talking though the medium, a high shot has been used in the shot before the medium it makes the men look vulnerable therefor scared of the past. There is a low angle shot of the medium this reflects her strangeness also shows the contrast from the others. There is also a zoom into the mediums face this also reflects her weirdness as it zooms it into her facial expressions. Over the shoulder shots used to show the facial expression of the people in the background, and seeing from the persons point of view. The wind in the background and flowing through her wavy dress makes the scene more dramatic. The Medium represents no realism, and links with the grudge. The man says ‘man just wants to forget the bad things, and believe in the made up good things’ this is a pessimistic point of view of things this view has been said because probably the people of japan at the time were annoyed at the fact USA government have control over Japan. There is a cut to the men talking with thunder and lighting then it jump cuts to a devil statue this represents the Gothic horror film. The mans voice to echoing from the medium this reflects how over powerful he is and reflects his ghostly ways. You cant hear the wind as the viewer this reflects the supernatural, the only sound you can hear is the dietetic sound of the mans chanting i think this is to reflect his suffering from his death. Women in this sequence are represented as liars this is also a key theme of Japanese film is that women are often represented as horrible people. In the ending of rashamon, the scene is started off by the ending od the story and that the three men start to contemplate men, and that men are liars, one of the men start throwing away the wood into the rain this represents the fire burning out like there is no hope left for man kind. Then suddenly there is a dietetic sound of baby cries, again this sound is often associated with horror films. The two men start to argue they are pushed out into the rain this is significant as it is though the so could “truth” has finally home or metaphorically speaking poured onto them. The messages of truth that men will never change. Then there is a transitional fade sequence of the men standing with no movement, the rain stops. This sequence represents that time has passed on by and that the man has thought about his actions of stealing. The man then decides to adopt the baby in an act of kindness and to prove that man can do good in this world. Uplifting music starts to play reflecting the positive situation and it contrast with the negative music at the beginning, there is a low angle shot of the man as the film comes to an end, showing the man has become powerful as he is trying to make a change in his life by looking after this baby.