Prince refers to the subjectivity of memory as the decisive element of Rashomon, and it may be said that the images of Rashomon are concerned to portray a narrative that elaborates precisely this subjectivity. Elaborates, but does not judge--at least not in a conventional way. Two points have to be made here. First, Kurosawa uses film to drive home the idea that perceptions are relative and that the human enactment of discovery and portrayal of self-in-the-world is profoundly subjective and self-interested. The clarity with which the conflicting images are conveyed in each succeeding story suggests that human beings seek to become better than they are, and so they intend to portray themselves as the heroes of their own plays.
[I]n film, both the content and the composition of the shots work to connote the social situation, motives, and emotions of the principal characters. In a single photograph, one can decide things about a person from body position, facial expression, gesture and especially from milieu. In the shot of a film, the character is also seen in movement; from speech and interaction with other characters we can make many more judgments about that person's social situation. There is a whole system at work of mutual and reciprocal expressions and recognition. Finally, as was noted earlier, narrative dominates and limits meaning so that we most frequently read a shot in terms of the story, which is what Barthes meant when he said that consumers (vs. creators) of texts end up receiving the same message (Lesage, 1985, p. 487).
Jarvie. "Rashomon: Is truth relative?" Philosophical problems in film. 295-307.
Andrew, J.D. (1976). The major film theories: An introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.
Baudry, J. (1985). Ideological effects of the basic cinematographic apparatus. Movies and Methods. Vol. 2. Ed. B. Nichols. Berkeley: University of California Press. 531-42.
Kurosawa, Akira, dir. (1950). Rashomon. With Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo. Daie