Roshomon: Made in America (to start)

One of the greatest films of all time, the critics agree, is Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece Roshomon. Turns out it's based on a Japanese short story, that in turn was based on a story by Ambrose Bierce, the infamous Western wit, aka "the San Francisco Wasp," who disappeared in Mexico. 

The story turned up recently on a site launched by the Library of America, which each week has been offering a classic America story, fiction and non-fiction, in its Story of the Week

What's amazing about the Bierce story, called The Moonlit Road, is that a) the reader is left to figure out the truth of the murder story for him or herself — the plot offers no conclusion, and b) the last of the three sections of story is narrated by a medium, channeling the story of the murder victim! 

It's a strange but enthralling story, fascinating in part because the last narrator, the channeled ghost, insists she knows not whereof she speaks: 

Forgive, I pray you, this inconsequent digression by what was once a woman. You who consult us in this imperfect way —you do not understand. You ask foolish questions about things unknown and things forbidden. Much that we know and could impart in our speech is meaningless in yours. You think that we are of another world. No, we have knowledge of no world but yours, though for us it holds no sunlight, no warmth, no music, no laughter, no song of birds, nor any companionship. O God! what a thing it is to be a ghost, cowering and shivering in an altered world, a prey to apprehension and despair!

Creepy. Time for a remake? 


It's a great movie, but technically not so much. 

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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