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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Curse of the Unspoken -- Part 1

There are numerous times in movies when I wish the makers could've moved themselves to have a character say out loud exactly what he's thinking.   In the original. 1990 British "House of Cards" film,  the main character, played by Ian Richardson, did so in profusion, and I thought it added greatly to the film's effect.   But that was a big exception.   Otherwise, what used to be called "dramatic asides" are heard so rarely nowadays that it must mean that there's a hard and fast rule of movie-making to avoid them at all costs.  At some unknown point it must have been decided that the inarticulate hero or heroine is superbly chic or cool or awesome, while the moviegoer cannot be expected to tolerate anything even remotely approaching audible self-revelation.  A reflection of modern life?

Oh well.   I guess that does save the writing and the speaking of hundreds of extra lines, even it it does mean populating the average movie with animated lumps who seem to be indulging in endless sleepwalking and little else.

A few years ago I struggled through a Russian film that exhibited this glaring defect in painful profusion.   Titled "How I Ended My Summer," it could much more aptly have been called, "How I Spent My Summer Looking Stupid and Acting Accordingly by Saying Not a Word."

It tells of two men maintaining a cold, bleak existence at a weather station somewhere on an island in the arctic wastes.    One day the older and more serious of the pair is out fishing, when  the younger man gets a radio message saying that his co-worker's beloved wife and child have just been killed in an auto accident.   The younger worker is told to pass this along to his co-worker, along with assurance that a ship is being sent to bring the man back to the mainland in his bereavement.

Because this is a movie made by one of your "most clever people," when the older worker returns from his fishing trip, the younger man tells him absolutely nothing and instead keeps all that strictly to himself, for reasons that naturally we are left to figure out for ourselves -- necessarily unsatisfactorily, because that young guy's vocabulary doesn't extend past occasionally uttered four-letter expletives.  Of course it all eventually comes out anyway, but with consequences that are far, far worse than they would have been if the news had been conveyed as was requested.

But this is how by far most of your bad and even worse movie plots go.   Things are carefully kept concealed till it's too late, when real life keeps telling us that everything and even the very worse news is always best revealed RIGHT NOW, and in language a little past the grunts of a bored polar bear.


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