Re: [mythsoc] Spoilers
- Yes. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Mr. Rateliff.
I loved all the movies you mention. It's interesting that two of them have
to do with notions of the afterlife. The characters in both THE OTHERS and
SIXTH SENSE did not realize they had died early on in the story, and the
audience was not supposed to discover this very important aspect of the
setting of the story until it became known to the characters, themselves.
This knowledge was to be revealed to the characters and the audience at the
same time. For me, it worked. I totally did not realize that the
characters played by Bruce Willis and Nicole Kidman were dead until the end
of those movies. Then they were suddenly and blatantly transformed
into statements about what happens when a person dies.
FIGHT CLUB was also one of my favorites, partly because of the same kind of
revelation, where the audience finds out the characters are dual aspects of
the same mind at the same time that the Edward Norton character does. That
sudden revelation changes the meaning of everything in the movie, and it
becomes a statement (for the imaginatively sympathetic, anyway) about the
psychotic experience of split personality disorder. I did not have the same
experience with PSYCHO, however. And I think it's because I was too young
to really get it the first time I saw it, but I had enough memory of what
was going to happen with the old lady at the end that there wasn't any
surprise in it for me when I did have the metacontextual knowledge capable
of being impacted by the movie.
I think the main thing that can be spoiled is the surprise twist or ending.
If it's not a surprise, then I don't think we're talking about it being
spoiled, at least in most cases.
That seems like it would take some skill setting up, to create a subtle
backcloth of apparently mundane meanings, or simply little hint details that
don't sync up with the preponderance of what is evidently the meaning of the
story, and then triggering the surprise that is going to make those little
hints overwhelmingly relevant the instant the reader's expectations are not
On 6/28/06, John D Rateliff <sacnoth@...> wrote:
> I think the situation with "spoilers" is rather complicated.
> Certainly there are some stories in which there are plot twists and
> surprises, prior knowledge of which significantly changes the
> experience of reading or viewing that work. For example, THE OTHERS,
> FIGHT CLUB, THE SIXTH SENSE, and PSYCHO are all very different movies
> when viewed by those in the know as opposed to those coming to them
> fresh without preconceptions, and some of them are so well known that
> they can no longer be seen with the original impact.* So, where plot
> is the major element in a story's overall effect (rather than, say,
> worldbuilding/setting), spoilers do matter.
> I'm fairly inured to spoilers myself, because in all my years
> studying literature I often had the experience of reading about a
> book before actually reading it. I can therefore usually enjoy a
> story even if I already know far more about it than the author
> intended; I can at least watch to see how it's done. But then I
> often, when deciding whether or not to read a book, open it up and
> read a passage out of the middle: if that makes me want to find out
> who these people are and how they got into that situation, I start
> from the beginning and read all the way through; if not, I'm not
> likely to like it any better no matter where I start. Similarly, I
> have no compunction about reading a book out of the middle of a
> series, or starting with the middle book of a trilogy. Not everyone
> is lucky enough to be able to enjoy books this way, and even I rarely
> read introductions to "classics" unless they're by the original
> author (even then I find it's usually better to read them as
> afterwords); they invariably give away too much of the plot and get
> in the way of reading and deciding what you think about the book
> My wife's experience is very different, and she actively avoids
> spoilers whenever possible. This can be very difficult, since they
> bombard you from newspaper headlines, ads on tv, et al., but she
> makes the effort and is more successful than not. Others I know
> deliberately seek out every tidbit of information and make a kind of
> game out of knowing everything possible before the book or film is
> released; they also tend to be the people who try to see a movie the
> day it's released. I think they want the comfort of re-reading from
> the very first exposure, but if that works for them it's fine with
> me, so long as they respect the wishes of those who actually enjoy
> the feeling of something new; the latter of course is just basic
> --John R.
> *I just went back and re-read "The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyl and
> Mr. Hyde" for the first time in years, and realized that no one can
> now read that book the way Stevenson intended.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- John and David wrote:
> >Short version: you can't tell the story of LotR coherently andAnd yet the version of the musical to open in London next year is to be cut
> >completely in three and a half hours of stage time.
>Or, nine hours of movie time. (ooh, bites tongue)
back to only three hours.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- From: "Wayne G. Hammond" <Wayne.G.Hammond@...>
> John and David wrote:Now, I can see them doing that. You just make cuts. You don't really need
>> >Short version: you can't tell the story of LotR coherently and
>> >completely in three and a half hours of stage time.
>>Or, nine hours of movie time. (ooh, bites tongue)
> And yet the version of the musical to open in London next year is to be
> back to only three hours.
4 hobbits: two, or at the most three, is enough. Cut Lothlorien -- it's
just Rivendell with tree branches. Then you can skip Galadriel and those
gifts. Cut the whole middle book -- it's just filler. You cut the nine
riders to maybe four. And there's no ring other than The Ring.
<ducking and running>
- --- Original Message ---
From: "Mike Foster" <mafoster@...>
> 'Spoiler alert' is indeed always apt. In my Tolkien course, I mandatedThe Friendly Neighborhood Mythsoc List Administrator has set no policy about
> that discussion could not advance beyond the texts covered so far, so
> that no one could spill LORD OF THE RING beans when "Riddles in the
> Dark" chapter in THE HOBBIT was being discussed.
spoilers, primiarly because I generally prefer to know the endings to books or
movies before I read/see them. If people want to voluntarily issue spoiler
warnings, that's fine; if not, that's fine, too.
> Oh, and in "Murder on the Orient Express," the murder was committed by.Well, that's an exception. It's the one movie I'm glad I didn't know the
ending to in advance, because I determined who dunnit all by myself!
(By the way, yes, the Friendly Neighborhood etc. has been keeping watch on the
Tolkien vs. Jackson debate and was about to issue advisories when the tone
started to become more moderate. My thanks to those who have voluntarily
moderated their posts.)
Friendly Neighborhood Mythsoc List Administrator