This essay will be comparing the narrative structure of two films, Rashomon directed by Akira Kurosawa (1950), and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) directed by Charlie Kaufman. Both films have unconventional narrative organization.
Rashomon reveals several characters' story or point of view of the same situation they have witnessed. They observed a samurai and his wife getting attacked in the forest by a Tajomaru, the husband gets killed and the wife raped. The wife and the Tajomaru are brought to court to testify while a priest and a woodcutter are present. After the court, at Rashomon gate, the four witnesses giving their point view to a commoner. All have different stories and the audience sees flashbacks of witnesses. There are two main time strands in the film: the idle time under the Rashomon gate and the forest scene where the samurai is being attacked. These two three-act narratives are interwoven throughout the film.
The narrative of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a love story told backwards between Clementine Kruczynski and Joel Barish, they erase their memories of each other after having troubles in their relationship, Joel has a change of heart and struggle to preserve his fading memory of Clementine. It incorporates flashback as a means to inform and provide knowledge to the audience about the character's past. The relationship between Clementine and Joel are the main focus. In both films the flashbacks constructs a non-linear narrative structure.
In Rashomon the border between protagonist and antagonist is not very clear, due to the fact that the four witnesses have their own point of view. In all the stories the common people are the samurai his wife and the Tajomaru. We might suggest that the Tajomaru is the antagonist and the protagonist is the samurai and his...