In directing his films, Akira Kurosawa employed many different techniques, and
19 March 2011
Order and Chaos in Kurosawa
Conflict is one of the greatest tools in a director's arsenal to create interest within a film. With a backdrop of conflict, the plot of the film can be made into a journey to resolve that conflict. The easiest way to create conflict in any work of fiction is by creating a struggle between good and evil. However, a masterful filmmaker like Kurosawa Akira did not simply use the struggle between good and evil to create conflict in his films. Instead, Kurosawa portrayed the ever changing balance between chaos and order to create the conflict within his films. In Rashomon, Ikiru, and the Seven Samurai, maintaining the balance between order and chaos is the controlling source of the actions taken by those involved and, ultimately, the sum of those actions lead to the resolution of the conflict.
In Rashomon, the main source of conflict is the murder of the nobleman and the rape of his wife by Tajomaru; two acts that seem to be rooted in evil. However, in his account, Tajomaru stated that he never meant to kill the nobleman. Thus, when he and the nobleman fought, the nobleman's death was an accident, due to a sudden rush of adrenaline. Tajomaru also claimed that the only reason he lusted after the nobleman's wife was because of a freak wind that lifted her veil; yet another accident. Thus, both acts were products of chaos; random events that led to the death of the nobleman and the rape of his wife.
However, the true conflict within Rashomon arises not from the death of the nobleman or the rape of his wife, but from the disparity between the accounts of the crime given by the woodcutter, Tajomaru, the nobleman, and his wife. Each of them told a different version of the events, with each version painting the teller in a positive light. Each person who told their story lied in order to gain the sympathy or respect of those that heard the story. In a court of law, for there to be any order at all, the truth must be uncovered. By refusing to give a truthful account of the events, every person who testified at the court became an agent of chaos.
However, as a balance to the chaos, the same false accounts that each of these people gave in testimony at the court proceedings also maintained their own personal sense of order. Tajomaru told a tale of his besting the nobleman in a swordfight because that story made him seem heroic and skillful. In the nobleman's case, as communicated through the medium, he told of merely having been tied up by trickery and claimed that he died not by losing to Tajomaru in a swordfight, but in suicide, because that upheld his honor. Likewise, the nobleman's wife told her story to make it seem that she was more of a victim, rather than a co-conspirator, or even the instigator in the fight between Tajomaru and her husband. Finally, the...