CineMathematics or CinemaThematics. Your choice

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's a Logical Life

This a contribution to the It's a Wonderful Blog-A-Thon. Enjoy.

This may just be me, but some things about the logic of movies bothers me. People doing stupid things annoy me to no end, though I've been working on that to great success. However, if a film's internal logic breaks down and we're supposed to simply accept it, I find myself questioning what happened.

At the beginning of It's a Wonderful Life, Clarence is called upon by higher angels. He is told that George Bailey will throw away God's greatest gift at 10:45 Earth time. Clarence remarks that this gives them 1 hour to be properly introduced to George Bailey (and yet Clarence is George's Guardian Angel? Sounds a bit fishy). Given the blurry introduction and pause later in the film, it is clear that we see things from Clarence's perspective. Clarence may see more, but there is nothing we see that Clarence does not see. Clear? Ok, jump 75 minutes into the movie and we get to the day in question, when George will attempt suicide. I wouldn't question something like this except it sorta plays as a MAJOR PLOT POINT! Considering how much time is given to the romance of George and Mary, this problem ends up significant. I can appreciate time condensed with the magic of editing. A man's life is summed up in 75 minutes. However, you can't make the 75 minutes it takes to tell the story take 60 minutes. In this light, the romance of George and Mary, a very impressive screen romance, seems unnecessary or frivolous. A man's life is in danger, yet the only being who can save him is delayed by learning about how George met his wife?

I don't get Nick. Nick is the bartender at Martini's bar, and in the world without George, he owns said bar instead of Martini. He is a gruff character, and without question he throws Mr. Welch out of Martini's bar. We don't know anything about Mr. Welch. He could come to the bar everyday after work, yet Martini doesn't care. But we're not supposed to question this. In the world without George, Mick throws Mr. Gower out for panhandling and George for just being strange. Nick is supposed to come off as cruel here, indicative of the world of Pottersville. Yet there is nothing here that seems different about Nick. In this case, the world is no different with or without George, yet we are supposed to think the world is different. There is little doubt that Nick would throw a stranger out of Martini's bar is they acted as strangely as George in Nick's bar. Why is this supposed to be so shocking?

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