Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Rashomon" by Ryunosuke Akutagawa

Source: peopleTalk (mp3)
Length: 16 min
Reader: Sadao Ueda

The story: If you've heard of this story before, it's probably from the excellent 1950 film of the same name directed by Akira Kurosawa. The movie, however, takes most of its plot from another story by this same author. So, if you've already seen the film, you're not losing anything by reading this classic Japanese story as well.

The setting is the decaying Rashomon gate in Kyoto during a economic depression. A laid-off servant shelters under the gate, trying to decide whether to live an honest life and probably starve or turn to a life of crime in order to survive. As I listened, I couldn't help but think about people in modern society thrust into the same situation. This story would be a great starting place for a discussion on the validity or invalidity of the concept of moral relativity and its application.

Rating: 8 /10

The reader: Ueda is a professional actor who really knows how to use his voice for storytelling. He builds the excitement of the story to the climax through his use of pacing and rhythm. Ueda has a Japanese accent that is not so strong as to interfere with the understanding of the story, but lends some authenticity to the telling. Apart from some muddy sound and confusing language effects in the introduction, this is a well-recorded piece.

(photo of Nanzen-ji Gate, Kyoto by rdvark via flickr. Creative Commons attribution, non-commercial license)


mel u said...

I just finished reading this author's famous short story "The Grove" about multiple perceptions of a murder-really a good writer

Listener said...

"The Grove" is actually the story I was referring to as the source of the plot for the movie Rashomon. It's strange to see the two stories mashed together for the film, but it works.