Gaze and responsibility in Akira Kurosawa’s Rashōmon

Akira Kurosawa’s movie Rashōmon (1950) is traditionally referred to as a clear illustration of the subjectivity of human perception and memory. However, the notion of the so-called Rashōmon effect reflects only a superficial reading of Kurosawa’s film. It is argued, both from a historical and from a psychoanalytic point of view, that the filmmaker’s interpretation of the medieval Japanese story addresses two important distinctions, far beyond the reach of traditional psychological research: 1, the distinction between perception and gaze, and 2, the distinction between guilt and responsibility. It is further argued that in addressing these two distinctions, Rashōmon, upon its release in 1950, confronted the world (and not just the regimes of the Japanese Empire and the Nazis) with its responsibility for the atrocities of World War II.

The Subject’s Responsibility: The Beginning and the End of Analysis

Responsibility is a crucial notion in psychoanalysis. This article begins with a discussion of the preliminary sessions and the installation of the supposed subject of knowledge as the clinical moment in which the analysand takes up responsibility for his suffering. The second part of this article deals with the fate of the subject supposed to know in analysis as illustrated by the author’s testimony of a moment of pass in his own analysis. The analysis of two crucial dreams proves both the intransigence of a religious dimension in transference and the responsibility of the analyst in this matter. The final section of this article discusses the way in which this religious dimension can creep into and undermine psychoanalytical associations.