Thursday, September 4, 2008

Top Films: Rashowhat?

Rashomon is a 1950 film by the brilliant Akira Kurosawa. You have most likely never seen it, but you have been heavily influenced by it. Our whole culture has.
It tells the story of a crime from four different perspectives. What is the truth? Four people were there and saw the same event, but they all have contradictory yet plausible accounts for it. It is an exploration of the difficulty of knowing the truth that a postmodern society now takes for granted.
Rashomon has been remade and retold in movies and television ever since. It must be considered one of the standard television plots used by all TV shows if they stay on the air long enough. The Simpsons referred to it:

Marge: “Come on, Homer, Japan will be fun. You liked Rashomon.”
Homer: “That’s not how I remember it.”

Perhaps two of the best re-workings of this concept were done by The X-Files in “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” in season 3 and “Bad Blood” in season 5.

Postmodernism is a philosophy that depends on art and text. In day to day life it is a little harder to see. Reality in a piece of art can be fluid. The events in Rashomon could have happened any of the various ways we see it happen. After all—seeing is believing. Then again, they may not have happened any of those ways. Oh yeah…they didn’t happen at all, it is just a story.
In real life things happen. There is a reality. What postmodernism exposes is the inherent difficulty we have in truly knowing what happens. We can’t always trust our perspective. The question becomes: whose perspective can be trusted? Who can reveal reality? The answer for Christianity is an outside observer. The God who has created reality has revealed it to us. The answer for those who have chosen not to believe in a god is: nobody. There is no other truly objective and comprehensive perspective.

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