Sunday, March 2, 2008

Rashomon and Prozac

Rashomon (1950) was made by one of Japan’s top directors Akira Kurosawa when Japan was just recovering from the Second World War. The director even had difficulty finding a horse for a crucial part of the film. I am sure many working in the field of mental health have heard of the Rashomon Effect, although many may not have had the chance to see the film. I used to keep a copy to loan to my staff. The Film, in black and white, was extremely well made and has been hailed by other film directors as near perfect. It just shows how lack of funding does not necessarily mean lack of quality.

Rashomon is fundamentally about truth and subjective truth. At the end of the film you are still not too sure but you have some idea. The story was simple enough:

“This landmark film is a brilliant exploration of truth and human weakness. It opens with a priest, a woodcutter, and a peasant taking refuge from a downpour beneath a ruined gate in 12th-century Japan. The priest and the woodcutter, each looking stricken, discuss the trial of a notorious bandit for rape and murder. As the retelling of the trial unfolds, the participants in the crime -- the bandit (Toshiro Mifune), the rape victim (Machiko Kyo), and the murdered man (Masayuki Mori) -- tell their plausible though completely incompatible versions of the story.”

(from the: New York Times Review: March 1, 2008)

The murdered man was in fact a Samurai who had the task to maintain the honour of the Samurai tradition, even as a ghost. This was to some the most shocking part. We know people lie: but GHOSTS?

In today’s news, the Oliver star Mark Lester now divorcing his wife has his story to tell so has his wife.

Not many days ago, Prozac and other SSRIs hit the big news worldwide. The big Pharmas have their stories so have these and other researchers from around the world. The millions of patients on one of these drugs have their stories too. If NICE were to make a pronouncement, would that not be just like the words of the Samurai’s ghost? Are we to believe it would not be driven by political or economical considerations? Not too many years ago Ernest Saunders was let out of prison early because of Alzheimer’s disease though he later denied it. What about Pinochet? O. J. Simpson?

Rashomon has remained one of the top hundred films ever made. The ending at least gave the poor monk, who probably would have committed suicide or would nowadays be reaching for Prozac or other SSRIs, some hope.

A baby was heard crying. It was an abandoned baby. The woodcutter, who was poverty stricken, decided to adopt and look after this poor baby. He had six children – one more mouth would hardly make much difference.

There is hope in the world still.

Buy the book: The Cockroach Catcher

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