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treis
04-23-2011, 05:09 PM
First the question, in the recollection of the guy in the temple the Samurai and the Bandit have a ridiculous, almost 3 stoogies level of silliness, fight, where as in the other recollections they are shown as skilled fighters. Why is that?

Second the comment, I don't really see this as a film about faulty memory or different perspectives. The common position seems to be:

Due to its emphasis on the subjectivity of truth and the uncertainty of factual accuracy



Marge: But you liked Rashoman!
Homer: That's not how I remember it



But that doesn't jive with the movie. The accounts differ on substantial and essentially incontrovertible facts. For example, the death of the Samurai. In the Samurai's account, he kills himself, and in the others the bandit kills him. It's ridiculous to contend that the Samurai is mistaken about how he died, or the bandit is mistaken that he killed him. I see it more as an example of how people will lie their ass off to put themselves in a better light.

Miller
04-23-2011, 06:14 PM
First the question, in the recollection of the guy in the temple the Samurai and the Bandit have a ridiculous, almost 3 stoogies level of silliness, fight, where as in the other recollections they are shown as skilled fighters. Why is that?

The thing to remember is that every character in the story is approaching the events of the fight with their own biases and agendas, which color their recollection of the fight. The samurai views himself as an honorable and dedicated warrior, and his recollection is colored by that perception. The bandit sees himself as a dangerous predator and cunning opportunist, and so recalls the encounter in that light. To the peasant, however, they're just two assholes with swords. There's never really a "good" time and place to be a peasant, but Japan's Warring States period was worse than most, and to most peasants of that era, there was little to distinguish between a samurai and a bandit raider. His recollection is colored by his hatred of both sides in the conflict, and so her remembers it as a farce.

Of course, his memory is no more reliable than anyone else's. He's an untrained peasant who has never so much as held a weapon before. What might have been, in the actual event, well-considered strikes and tactical maneuvering, he recalls as comical flailing about, because he doesn't know how to "read" a sword fight the way a trained warrior can, and because he's predisposed to see any martial figure in a negative light.

Second the comment, I don't really see this as a film about faulty memory or different perspectives. The common position seems to be:


But that doesn't jive with the movie. The accounts differ on substantial and essentially incontrovertible facts. For example, the death of the Samurai. In the Samurai's account, he kills himself, and in the others the bandit kills him. It's ridiculous to contend that the Samurai is mistaken about how he died, or the bandit is mistaken that he killed him. I see it more as an example of how people will lie their ass off to put themselves in a better light.

That wiki quote jibes pretty well with the movie. There is, of course, an objective truth behind the accounts of the fight. The purpose of the movie is to demonstrate how that objective truth is ultimately unknowable, because it will always be filtered through the flawed and self-serving perceptions of human beings. Humans tend to perceive the world in a way that fits their preconceptions and to report on the world in a way that is flattering to themselves. The accounts in the film are, therefore, both subjective, and factually unreliable - clearly, someone is lying about what happened, but how can an outside observer determine the truth, based solely on eyewitness accounts? And how does one separate the deliberate falsehoods from the false memories?

Incidentally, I've always found the samurai's testimony problematical. I'm never sure how I should regard the medium who relates it. Is he a device to allow the filmmaker to show the dead samurai's point of view, or are we meant to understand the medium himself as another unreliable narrator? The inclusion of overt fantasy elements seems out of step with the tone of the film overall, but if we take the medium as a fraud, we lose the symmetry of having the fight retold from the POV of each participant. Or is that uncertainty on how to interpret the medium's role, itself, a part of the overall theme of unreliable testimony and the impossible nature of objective truth?

I wonder, as well, if there's any historical basis for that character. Was the testimony of the dead, as provided by a priest or shaman type figure, actually a feature of the legal system of the time?

treis
04-23-2011, 09:27 PM
That wiki quote jibes pretty well with the movie. There is, of course, an objective truth behind the accounts of the fight. The purpose of the movie is to demonstrate how that objective truth is ultimately unknowable, because it will always be filtered through the flawed and self-serving perceptions of human beings.

But the facts that change aren't really things that can change with perception. I need to watch it again to come up with all of the specific ones, but the big one that jumps out is how the Samurai died. You can be prejudiced or self-serving, but no matter how self serving or prejudiced you are, you aren't going to be mistaken in the manner a man died.

Each story differed in a way that made the teller look better. Which obviously would be consistent with bias and self serving leaking into memory. But the way that these stories differed is not consistent simply with errors in memory. Remembering if the woman consented to sex or was raped is something that could vary from person to person due to a self serving memory. Remembering who killed who and what was the manner of death isn't.

If the intention was to show that we can't know an objective truth because everyone has a biased memory, I think it misses the mark. I think everyone just turns out looking like self serving lying bastards.




Incidentally, I've always found the samurai's testimony problematical. I'm never sure how I should regard the medium who relates it. Is he a device to allow the filmmaker to show the dead samurai's point of view, or are we meant to understand the medium himself as another unreliable narrator? The inclusion of overt fantasy elements seems out of step with the tone of the film overall, but if we take the medium as a fraud, we lose the symmetry of having the fight retold from the POV of each participant. Or is that uncertainty on how to interpret the medium's role, itself, a part of the overall theme of unreliable testimony and the impossible nature of objective truth?

I wonder, as well, if there's any historical basis for that character. Was the testimony of the dead, as provided by a priest or shaman type figure, actually a feature of the legal system of the time?

I think it's meant to accept her testimony as his.

Marley23
04-24-2011, 09:43 AM
Whether everybody is lying, self-serving, or biased, it's still almost impossible for an outside observer to find out what the truth is.

Lamia
04-24-2011, 11:25 AM
First the question, in the recollection of the guy in the temple the Samurai and the Bandit have a ridiculous, almost 3 stoogies level of silliness, fight, where as in the other recollections they are shown as skilled fighters. Why is that?Because they think they're better than they are, and the woodcutter thinks the whole thing is stupid.

Ever since I saw Rashomon I've felt the woodcutter's version of the swordfight was one of the best, if not THE best, movie fight scenes ever. This has come up before on the SDMB though, and I've learned that not everyone remembers it that way. ;)

But the facts that change aren't really things that can change with perception.Almost anything can change with perception. There have been a number of psychological studies done about the unreliability of eyewitness accounts, or about how people can have detailed memories of things that never happened at all.

I need to watch it again to come up with all of the specific ones, but the big one that jumps out is how the Samurai died. You can be prejudiced or self-serving, but no matter how self serving or prejudiced you are, you aren't going to be mistaken in the manner a man died.Of course you could be. And in this particular case, the samurai's account comes to the viewer secondhand through the medium -- or actually third-hand, if we count the priest who's telling the story.

If the intention was to show that we can't know an objective truth because everyone has a biased memory, I think it misses the mark. I think everyone just turns out looking like self serving lying bastards.I think the point is that we can't know an objective truth, full stop. Something really happened in that grove, and a man really died. But how can we know exactly what went on? I'd expand Marley23's statement to say that not only can an outside observer probably never determine the real, complete truth, but that even the witnesses probably do not know the real, complete truth either -- although they may each believe that they do.

Miller
04-24-2011, 12:47 PM
But the facts that change aren't really things that can change with perception. I need to watch it again to come up with all of the specific ones, but the big one that jumps out is how the Samurai died. You can be prejudiced or self-serving, but no matter how self serving or prejudiced you are, you aren't going to be mistaken in the manner a man died.

I actually think memory is malleable enough that people can make precisely that sort of mistake, but the point I was trying to make was that the theme of Rashomon is the impossibility of knowing an objective truth, not just because of faulty perception, but also because of deliberate deception. Both factors that are, I think, covered by the Wiki quote you posted.

treis
04-24-2011, 09:13 PM
I think the point is that we can't know an objective truth, full stop. Something really happened in that grove, and a man really died. But how can we know exactly what went on? I'd expand Marley23's statement to say that not only can an outside observer probably never determine the real, complete truth, but that even the witnesses probably do not know the real, complete truth either -- although they may each believe that they do.


I actually think memory is malleable enough that people can make precisely that sort of mistake, but the point I was trying to make was that the theme of Rashomon is the impossibility of knowing an objective truth, not just because of faulty perception, but also because of deliberate deception. Both factors that are, I think, covered by the Wiki quote you posted.

Are you really contending that the Samurai did not remember if he was murdered or committed suicide? That, and a couple other facts, are really my main problems with the film. It changes it from "how can we know the truth based on eyewitnesses" to "people lie to their advantage". The former is a potentially interesting topic, while the latter is filed under no shit sherlock.

Reno Nevada
04-25-2011, 09:37 AM
Whether everybody is lying, self-serving, or biased, it's still almost impossible for an outside observer to find out what the truth is.

Especially since the outside observer, himself, is lying, self-serving, or biased.

RealityChuck
04-25-2011, 09:55 AM
Are you really contending that the Samurai did not remember if he was murdered or committed suicide?But is the Samurai telling the truth? His testimony is not more reliable than anyone else's.

Miller
04-25-2011, 10:23 AM
Are you really contending that the Samurai did not remember if he was murdered or committed suicide?

No, I'm pretty sure I was saying exactly the opposite: that someone was lying about how the samurai died. :confused:

That, and a couple other facts, are really my main problems with the film. It changes it from "how can we know the truth based on eyewitnesses" to "people lie to their advantage". The former is a potentially interesting topic, while the latter is filed under no shit sherlock.

But they are not mutually exclusive, is my point. In Rashomon, you have both factors working at once to obscure the truth.

Lamia
04-25-2011, 05:51 PM
Are you really contending that the Samurai did not remember if he was murdered or committed suicide?Well, I think the fact that he's dead makes him a less than credible witness. Even if we accept that the samurai is genuinely possessing the medium -- and I see no reason to trust the medium, especially in a movie where everyone's account of their own experiences is depicted as less than fully reliable -- then all bets are off when it comes to how well the spirits of the dead remember their last moments. (There's been more than one movie about ghosts who don't even realize they're dead.) A spirit could also simply be lying for reasons of his own.

treis
04-25-2011, 07:41 PM
But is the Samurai telling the truth? His testimony is not more reliable than anyone else's.

I'm 99% certain he's lying about the manner of his death. Which is my point. If the point is to show the difficulty of discovering truth and the subjectiveness of eyewitness, then making the characters lying bastards obscures the point.

Kamino Neko
04-25-2011, 08:05 PM
No, it doesn't. It IS the point.

You ask 4 people what happened, you'll get 4 answers, because you have 4 different agendas, 4 different sets of biases, and many many ways one or more of them could have missed or misinterpreted an important point. It doesn't matter if any of them are lying, or how many, or why (or why not).

Lamia
04-25-2011, 08:09 PM
I'm 99% certain he's lying about the manner of his death. Which is my point. If the point is to show the difficulty of discovering truth and the subjectiveness of eyewitness, then making the characters lying bastards obscures the point.I don't see how it obscures the point at all. If the point is that we can never be certain what happened in that grove then having characters intentionally lie would be just another reason why that's the case. We can never know the whole truth because our only information comes from contradictory eyewitness accounts.

ETA: Er, what Tengu said. :)

treis
04-25-2011, 09:28 PM
No, it doesn't. It IS the point.

You ask 4 people what happened, you'll get 4 answers, because you have 4 different agendas, 4 different sets of biases, and many many ways one or more of them could have missed or misinterpreted an important point. It doesn't matter if any of them are lying, or how many, or why (or why not).

No, you don't get 4 different answers. In the case of the Samurai's death, you have three stories from 4 people. The bandit and woodcutter said the bandit killed him, the woman said she killed him, and the Samurai said he committed suicide. How could the woodcutter and the bandit come up with essentially the same story unless that is how it actually happened?

Miller
04-25-2011, 09:30 PM
I'm 99% certain he's lying about the manner of his death. Which is my point. If the point is to show the difficulty of discovering truth and the subjectiveness of eyewitness, then making the characters lying bastards obscures the point.

I see what you're saying, and you've got a decent point. The fact that one of the characters is almost certainly lying does somewhat distract from the idea that the other characters are telling what they think is the truth, even though they're contradicting each other. If one of those discrepancies can be shown to be a deliberate lie, then all of the discrepancies can be dismissed as lies, and you're left with a movie about a bunch of dishonest people lying to make themselves look good. Which is really not as interesting as the idea that honest people can remember objective events in totally subjective ways.

But that's not, properly speaking, why Rashomon is famous.

The major theme of Rashomon is not, "memory is subjective," but rather, "truth is unknowable." The film takes place during a period of particularly brutal civil war, during which much of the structure of society has collapsed, which is represented in the film by the dilapidated prayer gate under which the travelers shelter while they discuss the trial. The gate, in better times, was a symbol of the eternalness of the spirit world. As the symbol decays, it argues that the ideas it represents are equally vulnerable to the passage of time. Concepts that, a few years before, seemed obvious and unquestionable, are thrown into turmoil, and risk being lost or forgotten altogether. The traditional sources of authority and identity - government and religion - are shown to be ineffectual, fraudulent, or at best, as unreliable as the people they claim to govern. Even one's own recollections are questionable, because clearly not every discrepency between the stories was deliberate. The reason the travelers are so taken by this story, and so frustrated by its outcomes, is because it's a symbol of all the chaos and uncertainty in their lives. The parallels to post-WWII Japan should be obvious.

But what was considered remarkable in all this was not that people are dishonest or untrustworthy, which obviously was not a revolutionary idea. What was striking about Rashomon was that the film itself did not provide an objective answer to the questions it raised. In most films, the camera is a sort of "eye of God," showing the audience what "really" happened, even if the characters were deceived. Rashomon is justly famous for pioneering the application of the unreliable narrator to the medium of film. The trick that Kurosawa figured out, the thing that made Rashomon revolutionary, is that in film, the real narrator is always the camera.

Kamino Neko
04-25-2011, 09:39 PM
No, you don't get 4 different answers. In the case of the Samurai's death, you have three stories from 4 people. The bandit and woodcutter said the bandit killed him, the woman said she killed him, and the Samurai said he committed suicide. How could the woodcutter and the bandit come up with essentially the same story unless that is how it actually happened?

No, you've got 4 different stories, two of which match up on on particular detail.

The others match on other details.

The bandit and the peasant both have reason to make their claim about the samurai's death, and their reasons happen to point to the samurai dying at the bandit's hands.

treis
04-25-2011, 09:47 PM
No, you've got 4 different stories, two of which match up on on particular detail.

The others match on other details.

The bandit and the peasant both have reason to make their claim about the samurai's death, and their reasons happen to point to the samurai dying at the bandit's hands.

Whether they have reasons to lie about how the Samurai died is irrelevant. The salient point is that they both told the same facts about his death. There is essentially no possible way for them to have conspired to tell the same lie or independently come up with the same false recollection. The only logical conclusion to make is that the Samurai died in the way the woodcutter and bandit recollected.

I've only watched it once, but I'm reasonably certain you could ascertain the truth behind most of the basic facts in this manner.

Kamino Neko
04-25-2011, 09:55 PM
The bandit has a vested interest in making himself look good. The peasant has a vested interest in making the samurai look bad.

Neither of them has vested interest in telling 'the truth'.

Just like the samurai and his wife had vested interests in their versions of the story.

You've really missed the point of the story if you think two of them having reason to say the same thing makes that thing even likely to be true.

treis
04-25-2011, 10:01 PM
The bandit has a vested interest in making himself look good. The peasant has a vested interest in making the samurai look bad.

Neither of them has vested interest in telling 'the truth'.

Just like the samurai and his wife had vested interests in their versions of the story.

You've really missed the point of the story if you think two of them having reason to say the same thing makes that thing even likely to be true.

You completely missed the point of my post. Because I said things like:

Whether they have reasons to lie about how the Samurai died is irrelevant

I sure as heck didn't say that them having reason to say the same thing makes that thing even likely to be true.

The point is that the only way for the bandit and woodcutter's story to match on this point is if it actually happened. By what other manner would they come up with the exact same manner of death?

treis
04-25-2011, 10:06 PM
I see what you're saying, and you've got a decent point. The fact that one of the characters is almost certainly lying does somewhat distract from the idea that the other characters are telling what they think is the truth, even though they're contradicting each other. If one of those discrepancies can be shown to be a deliberate lie, then all of the discrepancies can be dismissed as lies, and you're left with a movie about a bunch of dishonest people lying to make themselves look good. Which is really not as interesting as the idea that honest people can remember objective events in totally subjective ways.

But that's not, properly speaking, why Rashomon is famous.

The major theme of Rashomon is not, "memory is subjective," but rather, "truth is unknowable." The film takes place during a period of particularly brutal civil war, during which much of the structure of society has collapsed, which is represented in the film by the dilapidated prayer gate under which the travelers shelter while they discuss the trial. The gate, in better times, was a symbol of the eternalness of the spirit world. As the symbol decays, it argues that the ideas it represents are equally vulnerable to the passage of time. Concepts that, a few years before, seemed obvious and unquestionable, are thrown into turmoil, and risk being lost or forgotten altogether. The traditional sources of authority and identity - government and religion - are shown to be ineffectual, fraudulent, or at best, as unreliable as the people they claim to govern. Even one's own recollections are questionable, because clearly not every discrepency between the stories was deliberate. The reason the travelers are so taken by this story, and so frustrated by its outcomes, is because it's a symbol of all the chaos and uncertainty in their lives. The parallels to post-WWII Japan should be obvious.

But what was considered remarkable in all this was not that people are dishonest or untrustworthy, which obviously was not a revolutionary idea. What was striking about Rashomon was that the film itself did not provide an objective answer to the questions it raised. In most films, the camera is a sort of "eye of God," showing the audience what "really" happened, even if the characters were deceived. Rashomon is justly famous for pioneering the application of the unreliable narrator to the medium of film. The trick that Kurosawa figured out, the thing that made Rashomon revolutionary, is that in film, the real narrator is always the camera.

I don't disagree that Rashoman did some things really well. The cinematography and acting were truly superb. I just feel that it didn't live up to the interesting premise it set out.

Kamino Neko
04-25-2011, 10:07 PM
The point is that the only way for the bandit and woodcutter's story to match on this point is if it actually happened.

Exactly how many ways do you think he could possibly have died?

Since he sure as hell wasn't going to implicate himself in the story, short of inserting a fifth party appearing out of nowhere and killing him, the woodcutter's version of events will match one of the three other stories in who killed the samurai.

And, of course, neither being killed by his wife nor himself serves the woodcutter's agenda.

Miller
04-25-2011, 10:10 PM
The point is that the only way for the bandit and woodcutter's story to match on this point is if it actually happened. By what other manner would they come up with the exact same manner of death?

There were only three possible killers in that clearing. If you ask four different people what happened, at least one of the answers is going to have to be repeated. That doesn't necessarily mean that's the right answer, though, and the bandit and the peasants account still differ significantly, even if they agree about whose hand was on the blade.

Miller
04-25-2011, 10:12 PM
I don't disagree that Rashoman did some things really well. The cinematography and acting were truly superb. I just feel that it didn't live up to the interesting premise it set out.

It sounds more like it didn't live up to the premise you expected, not the premise it set out.

treis
04-25-2011, 10:13 PM
Exactly how many ways do you think he could possibly have died?

Since he sure as hell wasn't going to implicate himself in the story, short of inserting a fifth party appearing out of nowhere and killing him, the woodcutter's version of events will match one of the three other stories in who killed the samurai.

And, of course, neither being killed by his wife nor himself serves the woodcutter's agenda.

There's thousands of ways to die in a sword fight. Having your opponent knock you down, stand over you, and then throw his sword into you is one of the more obscure ones. The bandit and the woodcutter didn't simply agree that the bandit killed the Samurai. They agreed on the exact, very unusual, manner of death.

How would the woodcutter have come up with "he stood over him and threw his sword into him", unless that's how it happened?

treis
04-25-2011, 10:20 PM
There were only three possible killers in that clearing. If you ask four different people what happened, at least one of the answers is going to have to be repeated. That doesn't necessarily mean that's the right answer, though, and the bandit and the peasants account still differ significantly, even if they agree about whose hand was on the blade.

The differ significantly until the manner of death. At that point it is essentially exactly the same. The Samurai is seated in the woods, the bandit holds his sword with two hands above his shoulders, and then throws it downward like a javelin.

My point is not that the woodcutter and bandit said the bandit killed the Samurai. My point is that they are in perfect agreement about an unusual manner of dispatching someone. There's no realistic mode for that to occur unless they both witnessed the same event, and have accurately retold it.

Kamino Neko
04-25-2011, 10:23 PM
Because he'd just heard the bandit's version of the story, and when dissembling, it's useful to have someone else's story to build on - especially when the story is so easily twisted to your agenda.

Miller
04-25-2011, 10:28 PM
My point is not that the woodcutter and bandit said the bandit killed the Samurai. My point is that they are in perfect agreement about an unusual manner of dispatching someone. There's no realistic mode for that to occur unless they both witnessed the same event, and have accurately retold it.

Of course there is. He's sitting right there, when one of the other travelers tells the bandit's story.

Miller
04-25-2011, 10:34 PM
I feel like an echo in here.

treis
04-25-2011, 10:39 PM
Eh, I don't really buy that. It would be one thing if it were simply similar, but being exactly the same? I don't really see that coming about from just hearing some testimony.

Miller
04-25-2011, 10:59 PM
Eh, I don't really buy that. It would be one thing if it were simply similar, but being exactly the same? I don't really see that coming about from just hearing some testimony.

Why not? He just heard the bandit's testimony from his own mouth. It's not remotely far fetched that he would could then confirm the bandit's testimony in all the particulars that make that samurai look bad.

treis
04-27-2011, 10:01 PM
Why not? He just heard the bandit's testimony from his own mouth. It's not remotely far fetched that he would could then confirm the bandit's testimony in all the particulars that make that samurai look bad.

Because the human memory isn't good enough to listen to a story once and exactly recreate it.

Stranger On A Train
04-27-2011, 10:16 PM
And now the thread is a synecdoche of the topic of the thread.

The point of Rashomon isn't just that memory is subjective, but that objective testimony of any event is essentially impossible as any observer will bring their own experiences and prejudices to their statement, especially in any way that conceals their own culpability or weakness. The most salient dialogue from the film is thus:

Commoner: Well, men are only men. That's why they lie. They can't tell the truth, even to themselves.

Priest: That may be true. Because men are weak, they lie to deceive themselves.

Commoner: Not another sermon! I don't mind a lie if it's interesting.

We don't mind deception as long as it is entertaining and unchallenging (i.e. doesn't conflict with other accounts) but we can't cope with multiple interpretations in which we have to use judgement to distill the probable (but uncertain) truth,

Stranger

Miller
04-27-2011, 10:44 PM
Because the human memory isn't good enough to listen to a story once and exactly recreate it.

But he didn't exactly recreate it. The two stories are significantly different. :confused:

Lamia
04-27-2011, 10:54 PM
Eh, I don't really buy that. It would be one thing if it were simply similar, but being exactly the same? I don't really see that coming about from just hearing some testimony.

Because the human memory isn't good enough to listen to a story once and exactly recreate it.Well, the woodcutter's story wasn't exactly the same as the bandit's. None of the stories in the movie are exactly the same. If you're talking about only the specific manner in which the bandit killed the samurai, how do you know they told exactly the same story? IIRC we don't actually hear them describing the death in specific terms, it's something we see onscreen. None of the witnesses could have described everything in the scene in as much detail as we see (e.g. exactly what everyone was wearing, what kinds of plants were growing there), and we also know that in this film we cannot trust that everything we see onscreen is objectively true.

Even if the bandit went to the trouble of saying "I held my sword with two hands above my shoulders, and then threw it downward like a javelin" then the woodcutter could have said "I saw the bandit kill the samurai, just like he said". Heck, even if the woodcutter is lying then it doesn't seem that difficult to remember something more specific, like "He lifted his sword, then thrust it down like a javelin."

treis
04-28-2011, 01:38 PM
But he didn't exactly recreate it. The two stories are significantly different. :confused:

The manner of death is exactly the same.

Well, the woodcutter's story wasn't exactly the same as the bandit's. None of the stories in the movie are exactly the same. If you're talking about only the specific manner in which the bandit killed the samurai, how do you know they told exactly the same story? IIRC we don't actually hear them describing the death in specific terms, it's something we see onscreen.

We don't really hear them telling anything about their stories. IIRC all we hear are motivations that can't be visually represented. I think we are meant to take the various stories as perfect visual recreations of the story being told.

Marley23
04-28-2011, 01:42 PM
I correct the name of the movie in the thread title. That's my story, anyway.

Miller
04-28-2011, 03:44 PM
The manner of death is exactly the same.

Yes, we've been over that. But now you're making a new claim: that the woodcutter must have been telling the truth, because it is impossible for him to have heard a story once, and then repeat it exactly. But that's manifestly not what happened - he told a very different story, that happened to end in the same way as the bandit's. But that doesn't require an epic feat of recall, by any means. Hell, you've just done the same thing in this very thread - you watched the movie once, and were able to relate exactly how the samurai died, not just once, but in four different versions of the same event. If you can remember exactly how the samurai died when the bandit told his story, why couldn't the woodcutter do exactly the same thing?

We don't really hear them telling anything about their stories. IIRC all we hear are motivations that can't be visually represented. I think we are meant to take the various stories as perfect visual recreations of the story being told.

I don't think that's a reasonable assumption, for the reasons Lamia pointed out. A picture conveys vastly more information than can usually be conveyed through words - particularly, through the spoken word. I doubt that, in any version of the story that gets told, anyone bothered to describe, say, the patterns on the woman's robe, or the exact number of times the bandit swung his sword during the fight. Realistically, if we heard the characters telling the stories, they'd be highly abstracted.

treis
04-28-2011, 05:51 PM
I correct the name of the movie in the thread title. That's my story, anyway.

I don't remember misspelling the name.

treis
04-28-2011, 06:00 PM
Yes, we've been over that. But now you're making a new claim: that the woodcutter must have been telling the truth, because it is impossible for him to have heard a story once, and then repeat it exactly. But that's manifestly not what happened - he told a very different story, that happened to end in the same way as the bandit's. But that doesn't require an epic feat of recall, by any means. Hell, you've just done the same thing in this very thread - you watched the movie once, and were able to relate exactly how the samurai died, not just once, but in four different versions of the same event. If you can remember exactly how the samurai died when the bandit told his story, why couldn't the woodcutter do exactly the same thing?

I actually had to go back and check how he died in the woman's story. To be quite honest with you, I wouldn't get most of the major details right. I don't remember which stories had her submitting and agreeing to marry him. The only things that really stick in my memory are the comical nature of the woodcutter's fight, and how the samurai died the same in the two stories.



I don't think that's a reasonable assumption, for the reasons Lamia pointed out. A picture conveys vastly more information than can usually be conveyed through words - particularly, through the spoken word. I doubt that, in any version of the story that gets told, anyone bothered to describe, say, the patterns on the woman's robe, or the exact number of times the bandit swung his sword during the fight. Realistically, if we heard the characters telling the stories, they'd be highly abstracted.

I think we're getting a little into birther territory here if we can't accept the film version of the stories as an accurate representation of said stories.

Miller
04-28-2011, 06:11 PM
I actually had to go back and check how he died in the woman's story. To be quite honest with you, I wouldn't get most of the major details right. I don't remember which stories had her submitting and agreeing to marry him. The only things that really stick in my memory are the comical nature of the woodcutter's fight, and how the samurai died the same in the two stories.

And that's pretty much the only important detail that the woodcutter's story and the samurai's story agree on. So it's not really much of a stretch that the woodcutter is simply repeating detail from the story the samurai told, is it?

I think we're getting a little into birther territory here if we can't accept the film version of the stories as an accurate representation of said stories.

I didn't say they weren't accurate representations of the stories. I said that the character's stories, by necessity, could not include all the incidental details conveyed by the filming of those stories. It's not at all incredible that the bandit could have told a story ending with, "And then I killed him by throwing my sword at him," and for the woodcutter to remember that part of the story (which is, after all, the most important part of the whole story) and say, "And then the samurai was killed when the bandit threw his sword at him." In other words, the similarity of incidental detail in the filming of the two scenes does not necessarily indicate that the two characters used identical language to describe the events.

Lamia
04-28-2011, 06:16 PM
We don't really hear them telling anything about their stories. IIRC all we hear are motivations that can't be visually represented. I think we are meant to take the various stories as perfect visual recreations of the story being told.I don't think we are meant to do this at all, partially for the reason I already described and partially because the framing device of this story is not the trial itself, it's the priest's story about the trial. The first three versions of the story are coming to us secondhand via the priest. What we see on camera could be what he imagined when he heard the testimonies of the wife, bandit, and medium, or it could even be what the commoner who's listening is imagining as he hears the priest's and woodcutter's tales.

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