Charity Hitt MMC 6660 Blog

University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications

Rashomon Effect

with one comment

The Rashomon effect can be surmised, in my opinion, by three simple words: Perception is reality.  We all have the predisposition to manipulate in our own minds the events surrounding a particular point in time; one that may have involved ten different people, and one that will surely be recounted in ten different ways.  It is the compilation of these different perceptions that construct the reality of a memory. Through Akira Kurosawa’s seminal film, Rashomon, he depicted four observers’ very different recollections of the events surrounding the rape of a woman and murder of her husband.  Each person described the event in detail, recalling similar yet varying accounts, allowing the viewer to arrange the fragmented pieces in order to shape their own perception of reality.  From this film, the Rashomon effect was coined.

The priest and the woodcutter describe it as something “horrible” that they “just don’t understand,” the woodcutter so distraught by the conflicting accounts of the tragic events that he laments the dishonesty of men, stating “Most of the time, we can’t even be honest with ourselves.”  In actuality, though he believes his recollection of events is truth, it is only one perception that fits into the puzzle of reality.

The Rashomon effect can clearly be paralleled with the synoptic method. My personal experience with the meaning of synoptic is derived from the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), which offer similar, but varied biblical accounts of the life of Jesus Christ.  I can’t recall ever referring to a particular event in one of these three books (or in the book of John in some cases) as appearing in one book or the other.  When referencing a quoted scripture, yes, but if I were to discuss the story of Jesus healing the blind man at Bethsaida, I wouldn’t reference the book of Mark, I would make a blanket reference the New Testament.  For me, the combined witness and testaments of these books make up a reality that I know to be true as a whole, regardless of the variations in the authors’ historical accounts.

In a society that is consuming more media than ever before, I think it’s crucial for receivers of mass media messages to employ the synoptic method in order to achieve what Croteau, Hoynes and Milan refer to as active audience interpretation (2012).  With television, radio, newspapers and online sources providing thousands of views on any given topic, being able to consider varied opinions and accounts in order to shape one cohesive picture of truth, is imperative in creating informed and responsible opinions.

Charity Hitt

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Written by charityhitt

September 9, 2012 at 5:45 am

One Response

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  1. Good – like the connection to active audience.

    Ronald R. Rodgers

    September 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm


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