As the film moves beyond the framing device into the trial itself, the sequence of events is explained, in turn, by the notorious bandit Tajōmaru, the samurai's wife, and the deceased samurai (as channelled by a croaky court-appointed medium). It's confirmed early on by Tajōmaru himself that he killed the samurai and raped the samurai's wife, but each person's rendition hinges on wildly differing interpersonal dynamics and tone. Less an inquisition into murder or sexual assault than a bureaucratic facade, each retelling is a performance built on appeals to existing prejudices.
is the man who frees himself from those fantastic “ideas” [the characterological lie about reality] and looks life in the face, realizes that everything in it is problematic, and feels himself lost. And this is the simple truth—that to live is to feel oneself lost—he who accepts it has already begun to find himself, to be on firm ground. Instinctively, as do the shipwrecked, he will look round for something to which to cling, and that tragic, ruthless glance, absolutely sincere, because it is a question of his salvation, will cause him to bring order into the chaos of his life. These are the only genuine ideas; the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce. He who does not really feel himself lost, is without remission; that is to say, he never finds himself, never comes up against his own reality.