Film style and narration in Rashomon

Nick Redfern

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    This article analyses the use of film style in Rashomon (Kurosawa Akira, 1950) to determine whether the different accounts of the rape and murder provided by the bandit, the wife, the husband and the woodcutter are formally distinct by comparing shot length data and using multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) to look for relationships between shot scale, camera movement, camera angle and the use of point-of-view shots, reverse-angle cuts and axial cuts. The results show that the four accounts of the rape and the murder in Rashomon differ not only in their content but also in the way they are narrated. The editing pace varies so that although the action of the film is repeated the presentation of events to the viewer is different each time. Different types of shot are used to create the narrative perspectives of the bandit, the wife and the husband that marks them out as either active or passive narrators reflecting their level of narrative agency within the film, while the woodcutter's account exhibits both active and passive aspects to create an ambiguous mode of narration. Rashomon is a deliberately and precisely constructed artwork in which form and content work together to create an epistemological puzzle for the viewer.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)21-36
    JournalJournal of Japanese and Korean Cinema
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


    • Kurosawa Akira
    • Rashomon
    • narration
    • film style
    • statistical analysis
    • multiple correspondence analysis


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