Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pause... and Back on Course

There's this thing I've noticed for movies and shows, where they sometimes will end with a "Pause... and back on course" kind of end. It's a weird little break in the expected rhythm. You think that a show will end in a way continuing the pattern of the middle of it, but this stops for some reason. The pattern looks like it can't continue, and it looks like the show will end very differently... but this turns out to be only a setback and we're soon back on course. I've encountered this recently with Let the Right One In, but there's also Birdy and Doctor Who that have this kind of rhythm.


Let the Right One In builds up this relationship between the human boy Oskar and the vampire kid Eli, but this relationship is abruptly ended when Eli eats a neighbor and needs to skedaddle. Oskar cries for his lost love, the music swells with melancholy, we see Eli's apartment bare, Oslar is alone... The music fades as we see shots of the Swedish winter. And then Oskar has to go on without Eli. He seems to be doing better, receiving positive attention from his teacher and classmates... and then bullies show up to cut out his eye if he doesn't drown himself. Crap. Oskar resigns himself to death and allows them to hold him under the water... and then Eli shows up to save the day, slaughters the bullies, and in the next scene we see they've run off together. It's like the movie started to end on a tragic note... but no, it's just a pause before the movie gets back on course. It's a weird little interruption of the rhythm, and I've seen it before.

Birdy is a film about a guy called Birdy who's obsessed with birds to the point that he wants to be one. After coming back from the war in Vietnam, Birdy enters a delusion of being a bird. His friend Al tries to get him to snap out of it before Birdy's sent to a mental institution. The film is told in flashbacks about how Birdy got to be the person he is. Just before his final evaluation, Birdy snaps out of it and talks to Al, but he refuses to demonstrate his sanity when he needs to. Al decides to break him out, and they run up to the roof. As Al looks for a way down, he sees Birdy standing on the edge of the roof with his arms raised like wings. Suddenly, you think 'Oh, no, he thinks he can fly!' Al races toward Birdy, but it's too late! Birdy jumps and falls out of view. Al makes it to the edge of the roof... only to see another section of roof a few feet lower with Birdy standing there. "You coming?" Birdy asks innocently... and the movie's over.

This is also in Doctor Who. I haven't seen the old Doctor Who, but I've started to watch the new 2005 Doctor Who. I didn't know he regenerates. That was a complete surprise. But I think they set up the show for newcomers, so I think his regeneration was supposed to be a surprise for the newcomers. The Doctor takes in Bad Wolf's energy, starts to die, rambling about how he never got to show Rose the planet called Barcelona, burns up... and there's the new Doctor standing there. "Right. Barcelona," he says, getting back on track.

So, I have no real point to make here. I just wanted to point out this little aberration in plot structure I've noticed. It's weird. There's nothing exactly wrong with it, but it feels weird.

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