The Rashomon Effect: Appropriations of Akira Kurosawa’s Cinematic Technique in Recent Cinema


Ian Radzinski

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


Literature and Languages

Date of Award

Spring 2023


When examining the work of director Brian De Palma, most scholars have noted how many of his films openly imitate or even steal narrative elements from the work of Alfred Hitchcock (Obsession (1976), Body Double (1984), and Raising Cain (1992)). Other critics have focused on the autobiographical components De Palma has included in many of his works. Many of De Palma’s films reference his childhood sibling rivalry, his inability to adequately look after his brother, his surgeon father whose openness to exposing his son to his medical work traumatized him greatly, and catching his adulterous father on film. While critics have traced the autobiographical and Hitchcockian influences embedded in De Palma’s work, critics have failed to examine how director Akira Kurosawa’s film Rashomon (1950) and the Rashomon Effect have influenced many of De Palma’s film narratives. This dissertation employs a formalist method of analysis to examine the various structural and philosophical aspects director Brian De Palma has appropriated from Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon (1950), and especially the Rashomon Effect, for use in his own films: Blow Out (1981), Snake Eyes (1998), and Femme Fatale (2002). These three films serve as case studies meant to illuminate De Palma’s penchant for appropriating cinematic techniques from other directors.


Hunter Hayes

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Film and Media Studies