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Inorganic plot devices

Old 11-25-09, 05:01 PM
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Inorganic plot devices

We've all seen movies with moments that exist just to further the plot. They're unnecessary, they're forced, they're illogical. The filmmakers know what they want to happen, and where they want to end up, but they don't appear to spend enough time with the story to avoid such developments.

In The Santa Clause 2 (not the greatest example, but it's off the top of my head), there was no need for the Toy Santa. His purpose was to keep running the North Pole while Scott Calvin was away. But Bernard, his second-in-command, said that he would be able to maintain operations in his absence, and he was right.

The real reason for the Toy Santa was to create conflict, of course, but the stated reason was a plot hole, in my estimation.

I'm sure there are more interesting examples.

--THX
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Old 11-25-09, 05:07 PM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

aren't these called McGuffins?
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Old 11-25-09, 06:31 PM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

The Santa Clause 2?
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Old 11-25-09, 09:36 PM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

Originally Posted by TallGuyMe View Post
aren't these called McGuffins?
Deus ex Machina.
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Old 11-25-09, 09:42 PM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

Contact. Second spaceship
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Old 11-25-09, 11:12 PM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

Originally Posted by TallGuyMe View Post
aren't these called McGuffins?
Actually, a MacGuffin is an item/object that drives (or just initiates) the action of the movie's plot merely by existing and being deemed "important", even though what the MacGuffin actually is may never be fully explained.
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Old 11-26-09, 10:58 AM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

every Hitchcock film has one
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Old 11-26-09, 11:14 AM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

Originally Posted by gglass4269 View Post
every Hitchcock film has one
Rebecca? The 39 Steps? Saboteur? Spellbound? Foreign Correspondent? Marnie?
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Old 11-26-09, 11:34 AM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

Originally Posted by Count Dooku View Post
Actually, a MacGuffin is an item/object that drives (or just initiates) the action of the movie's plot merely by existing and being deemed "important", even though what the MacGuffin actually is may never be fully explained.
Example: the contents of Marsellus Wallace's suitcase in Pulp Fiction
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Old 11-26-09, 07:35 PM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

Originally Posted by Hokeyboy View Post
Rebecca? The 39 Steps? Saboteur? Spellbound? Foreign Correspondent? Marnie?
The 39 Steps- top secret plans of a new aircraft engine

Marnie- the unlocked cellar window, flapping in the continuous gale, to which the camera keeps returning. But as the threat is never going to come from there, nor from the tree-branch (or is it a would-be intruder?!) brushing against an upstairs window, such things are really just emotion-arousing and the source of unnerving sound-effects! (Compare the cat's miaows from the cellar before it finally uses the unlocked window to escape and then - improbably - climb the aforementioned tree in the storm!) At the beginning and end of the show, host Alfred Hitchcock demonstrates the making of typical sound-effects used in his profession - though both times these soon take on an inexplicable life of their own.

Spellbound- Spellbound has a pair of MacGuffins that are practically fused with its love story. When John Ballantyne’s (Gregory Peck) amnesia is cured, both he and his lover-physician Constance (Ingrid Bergman) achieve self-discovery and attain a mate. The other MacGuffin, the unmasking of Dr. Edwardes’ real killer, restores the protagonists to each other’s embraces.

Foreign Correspondent- Clause 27

Rebecca-the mystery surrounding someone who is no longer living and, more importantly, is never seen in the film, even in flashbacks.

And I think you're right about Saboteur, but other wise I just owned the shit out of you.
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Old 11-26-09, 07:51 PM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

Originally Posted by gglass4269 View Post
I just owned the shit out of you.
Really? What is the point of that? You couldn't have just replied to his response without the immature trash talk?
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Old 11-26-09, 08:02 PM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

we have a history...
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Old 11-26-09, 08:10 PM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

Nice post gglass4269.
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Old 11-26-09, 08:14 PM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

Originally Posted by gglass4269 View Post
we have a history...
Oh, never mind then. You totally owned the shit out of him.
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Old 11-26-09, 08:38 PM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

Originally Posted by gglass4269 View Post
The 39 Steps- top secret plans of a new aircraft engine
Give you that one.

Marnie- the unlocked cellar window, flapping in the continuous gale, to which the camera keeps returning. But as the threat is never going to come from there, nor from the tree-branch (or is it a would-be intruder?!) brushing against an upstairs window, such things are really just emotion-arousing and the source of unnerving sound-effects! (Compare the cat's miaows from the cellar before it finally uses the unlocked window to escape and then - improbably - climb the aforementioned tree in the storm!) At the beginning and end of the show, host Alfred Hitchcock demonstrates the making of typical sound-effects used in his profession - though both times these soon take on an inexplicable life of their own.
And how exactly is that a MacGuffin? That's a building suspense, creating tone and atmosphere.

Spellbound- Spellbound has a pair of MacGuffins that are practically fused with its love story. When John Ballantyne’s (Gregory Peck) amnesia is cured, both he and his lover-physician Constance (Ingrid Bergman) achieve self-discovery and attain a mate. The other MacGuffin, the unmasking of Dr. Edwardes’ real killer, restores the protagonists to each other’s embraces.
Again, NOT MacGuffins. Those are plot developments. That's like saying the revelation of Norman's mother is a MacGuffin. MacGuffin's are by nature fundamentally useless to driving the narrative. Amnesia that leads to self-discovery is not a MacGuffin; it's story. George Kaplan in NxNW is a MacGuffin. Roger Thornhill using the Kaplan identity as a catalyst to shirking his Madision Avenue persona and domineering mother? NOT a MacGuffin.

Foreign Correspondent- Clause 27
Debatable but I won't make a federal case out of it.

Rebecca-the mystery surrounding someone who is no longer living and, more importantly, is never seen in the film, even in flashbacks.
Exactly why it's not a MacGuffin. That's the damn plot, son.

And I think you're right about Saboteur, but other wise I just owned the shit out of you.
You got 2 out of 5 son, after claiming EVERY HITCHCOCK FILM has one. And OH NOES I got "owned" by an Internet movie geek! With a 40% average, no less! Someone hand him a prize (At least until he posts a bunch of new pedantic insults that get deleted by mods.)
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Old 11-26-09, 08:59 PM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

Originally Posted by Hokeyboy View Post
by an Internet movie geek!
Really? Come on now.
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Old 11-26-09, 09:07 PM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

So...back to those inorganic plot devices...
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Old 11-26-09, 09:10 PM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

Macguffin, a plot device that has no specific meaning or purpose other than to advance the story; any situation that motivates the action of a film either artificially or substantively; also written http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/McGuffin

Marnie- the cellar window is much like the license plate in Psycho, diverting attention from the audience/ but having no particulair relevance to the outcome of the story.

Spellbound- http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/224, also to quote David Boyd's wonderful essay on Spellbound, "Wittingly or unwittingly, Spellbound taps into this same uncertainty. The images of Ballantine's dream, for instance, on the one hand "coincide point-for-point to 'real' events," as Andrew Britton says, "as if they were empirical clues" (clues, that is, to a "material reality"), and, on the other, unmistakably point toward the oedipal fantasy (or "psychical reality") underlying the film (80). It is, in fact, this uncertainty about just how much of the fault for our lives lies in our stars (or at least in our circumstances) and how much in ourselves, rather than Ballantine's guilt or innocence (surely the merest of MacGuffins), which provides Spellbound with the real focus of its narrative mystery. Consequently, if the fantasy material of the film, with its familiar parental figures and Oedipal guilt, sometimes verges on the banal, Hitchcock's narrative manipulation of that material can nevertheless be seen, not merely, as Andrew Britton contends, as the product of ideological confusion, but rather as reenacting a central and tenaciously unresolved conflict in Freud's own thought. And for that reason Spellbound has to be seen, like so many of Hitchcock's films, and indeed like psychoanalysis itself, with parted eye."

Rebecca to quote http://www.lee.edu/~jhamby/pdf/huma/Rebecca.pdf," Rebecca makes great use of Hitchcock’s concept of the MacGuffin, something pursued by
characters in the film but having little meaning to the audience or relevance to the film except as
a plot contrivance." (which is exactly what Rebecca herself resembles in the film)

Playing by the the rules established by Hitchcock, as well as that of the english language dictionary, I do believe that you sir, have just been bested. Now, good day!

Last edited by gglass4269; 11-26-09 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 11-26-09, 09:32 PM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

Like arguing with a bilge pump. Reminiscent of the salad days of the mid/late 1990s, explaining to tweenie girls that "ironic" does not mean "a great big massive bummer". An exercise in futility if there ever was one. Good day to you too, sir. And Baba Booey to you all.
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Old 11-26-09, 09:42 PM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

Originally Posted by Hokeyboy View Post
Like arguing with a bilge pump. Reminiscent of the salad days of the mid/late 1990s, explaining to tweenie girls that "ironic" does not mean "a great big massive bummer". An exercise in futility if there ever was one. Good day to you too, sir. And Baba Booey to you all.
Exactly the sentiments one would have if they just got owned, son

really, did you just use the word son while trying to sound smart and educated? also, you're not disagreeing with me at this point, your having conflicted views with well established film critics, not some tween teenybopper on a dvd site. also, I think your just mad that for once your wrong, you just don't want to admit it. you pull this same kind of schtick in every other thread, and karma just made its presence known. now to quote Howard Dean....

"BEEEEEEE-YAHHHHHHHHH"


(owned)
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Old 11-26-09, 09:52 PM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

Originally Posted by gglass4269 View Post
Exactly the sentiments one would have if they just got owned, son

really, did you just use the word son while trying to sound smart and educated? also, you're not disagreeing with me at this point, your having conflicted views with well established film critics, not some tween teenybopper on a dvd site. also, I think your just mad that for once your wrong, you just don't want to admit it. you pull this same kind of schtick in every other thread, and karma just made its presence known. now to quote Howard Dean....

"BEEEEEEE-YAHHHHHHHHH"


(owned)
Taken offline, you "well established film critic." Stay down.

Last edited by Hokeyboy; 11-26-09 at 09:56 PM.
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Old 11-26-09, 10:00 PM
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Re: Inorganic plot devices

I'm not the well established film critic, I was refering to the critics who I pulled the quotes from.
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