Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Great Un-Purge, Day 3: Does the ending satisfy most of the expectations of the genre, and defy a few others?

Let’s try to rescue another question from the Tone section, which was cut from the book for space.

On appeal: Does the ending satisfy most of the expectations of the genre, and defy a few others?

Why it was added: This is a good idea. When a story tries to defy all expectations, the audience quickly catches on to the gag, and simply loses all expectations (and engagement) ...but they also check out when a story slavishly checks off every box. They only way to keep their attention is to alternate between the two.

How do the checklist movies answer this question?
  • Alien: Yes, it fulfills all except one: the male leader dies and a subordinate woman survives and becomes the sole survivor.
  • An Education: Satisfies almost all. She doesn’t realize the boring boy is right for her, but that’s not universal in these movies.
  • The Babadook: The monster is both defeated and not, but nobody dies.
  • Blazing Saddles: It works as a straightforward western, a straightforward character comedy, a spoof and a satire.
  • Blue Velvet: Yes, the villain is killed and the girl is got, but we suspect that the hero will never be satisfied now that he’s seen the dark side.
  • The Bourne Identity: Yes, they reshot the ending to add more action, but kept the hero commited to his newfound pacifism.
  • Bridesmaids: Happy wedding, she gets guy, but he doesn’t save the day and the villain is befriended instead of getting comeuppance.
  • Casablanca: Yes, they admit they love each other and kiss…but then he sends her away. They shoot one Nazi…but forgive the other.
  • Donnie Brasco: Yes, the mob has a falling out, which is common, but the feds win, which is uncommon.
  • Do the Right Thing: Comedy and drama come with fewer expectations than other genres, and it meets them all.
  • The Fighter: It satisfies just about all.
  • The Fugitive: Yes, everybody is caught, but none of the bad guys are killed, which is why this movie was nominated for best picture: it rises above the base violent urges that usually fuel these genres.
  • Groundhog Day: He gets the girl and finds happiness, but only through not wanting to have sex with her that night.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: They win the big battle but they also make peace. Hiccup wins but he also loses his foot.
  • In a Lonely Place: No, it doesn’t satisfy any of them, but that’s the point: this is a feminist film (albeit much less so than the book) that wants us to be aware of and worried about our urges to see violent pay-offs. It works brilliantly.
  • Iron Man: Villain is defeated, girl is lost (which is common for this genre), but secret identity is rejected, which is shockingly new.
  • Raising Arizona: They get an unlikely happy ending (getting forgiven for the crime), but not as happy as it could have been (if they had gotten to keep the kid)
  • Rushmore: All are satisfied.
  • The Shining: It satisfies them all: the black guy is killed, the ax murderer is killed by the innocents who live, there is a brief implication at the end that events may re-occur, etc. Nevertheless, many genre-fans are not satisfied with this movie, because of the reluctance to commit to the supernatural element.
  • Sideways: He ends up with the girl, but he doesn’t have to change in order to do it.
  • Silence of the Lambs: Bill is caught, but Lecter gets away.
  • Star Wars: The hero, the rogue and the mentor are all fairly traditional, but the princess is kick-ass, which defied expectations at the time.
  • Sunset Boulevard: Yes, our hard-boiled narrator is killed and the murderer is arrested, but it’s all oddly funny.
Deliberations: Some of those answers are a little contorted. This is a valuable concept, but it’s vague enough that it’s hard to answer. These answers sort of overlap with the Urges question, which we’ve moved to “Concept”, so it’s somewhat redundant.

The verdict: I guess it can go. In the book, every chapter has a “Misconceptions” section, so maybe this point can be moved there, possibly under “Concept”, or maybe under “Structure”?

1 comment:

Brian Malbon said...

Concept, I think. It's definitely worth a mention, but not necessarily a whole discussion.