Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Accurately Inaccurate

Gotta say, first off, that I loved Anny's blog yesterday. Not only was she insightful but one commenter, Mona, left us a link to some top rate inconsistencies in finished film. It reminded me of an article I saw in college. It was a screen shot from Dangerous Liaisons in which the heroine in a full embrace by the rogue was pictured. There in a tiny hidden pocket was the top 1/4 inch of a certs roll. After the display yesterday, I wonder if the props master in Hollywood for each of those films still has a job or if the slip ups by-passed the director and the producer both. Must have to make it on film but sheesh.

One of my editors hates going to movies for this reason. She gets so caught up in the errors that she can't enjoy the film any longer. After an email from her one day, I went to a movie with my husband. I began paying very close attention to the small things. For example someone seen from the back and side with a check elevated in smile that isn't smiling when the camera shows the whole face. Or a woman who is lying down with her right knee up hasn't moved but the next camera cut shows the left knee upright. Moving moles and part lines, a change in the actress' shoes, an actor who suddenly appears to be left handed because the film was reversed.... It's all there to see.

How much of this distracts us and how much is creative license on the part of the director? Does it take me out of the story or can I gloss over it? In rudimentary writing classes I was told that anything distracting to the forward progression of the plot should be removed. But what's distracting and what's out and out inaccuracy?

Personally I find it a fun challenge to locate the tidbits. What annoys the heck out of me are major plot points or props going wonky. For example Indiana Jones and the yada yada yada that just came out nearly gave me a migraine of annoyance. The crystal skull is supposed to be solid and is approximately 18 inches long and at least 8 inches wide. Solid folks. Solid crystal. Yet the actors palm it in one hand, flip it up into the air and catch it like a tennis ball. They tilt it this way and that, they run without labor and basically fling the skull all over the place as though it weighed no more than a gnat.

And really who can blame them? Did you see the prop master's attempt at realism with that thing? I looked like a thin plastic shell filled with wadded up saran wrap. I'd throw that in the air too, only I wouldn't catch it. It was a glaring inaccuracy which ruined the movie for me. Suspend disbelief? Not possible. It had several scenes in the flick and I think I snorted through them all.

What are some of the inaccuracies you've found in a movie recently?



  1. The best one I've ever seen is in Indiana Jone (the first one). The heroine is sitting in her bar in China/Tibet(?) holding a wad of money in one hand and the amulet which is around her neck in the other. When it cuts back to her a second later, the amulet is still in her hand, but the chain is not around her neck anymore. However, I didn't see this until I had seen the movie probably a dozen times or more. I think the general public has a tendancy to see the overview of a film and not see the details until a later viewing. At least I don't...but I'm a sucker for a good flick! M:)

  2. Great post, Kelly. It's odd, but I tend to miss most mistakes in movies until I've watched them more than once. I guess my brain blocks them out the first time through. :D

  3. I guess the directors & as such are over rating the reader's or the viewer's willing suspension of disbelief.:D

    In fact they seem to have taken it for granted!

    I saw a man walking 'horizontally' up a vertical 100 feet wall in a movie & I saw a policeman's shoes change from black to white in a wild goose chase in another :D

    About books... I have seems hundred s such 'flaws', and I am surprised that after so many proof readings & editing, how these things can go unnoticed!

  4. I was horrified by the mistake in my book, but what made it slightly acceptable was a comment by my dad. He said one of his professors wrote the textbook of the class he was teaching, yet on the first day handed out a supplimental book. It contained corrections for all the mistakes in the original textbook!

    So I decided to go ahead and market my book, and decided there would be 3 types of people: a) ones who would spot the error immediately and never read my work again, unless it was to see if the 'trend' continued; b) those who would scratch their heads and wonder, 'hmmm...didn't that happen about 50 pages back?' or c) didn't give it a second thought. And apparently most are in the latter category. The complaints I've had are mostly about the language and the premarital sex:)

  5. I saw one author give a contest a few years back to locate the errors in her book. There were some historical details that were a problem and she didn't catch them til it went to print. She laughed it off and gave away a free package of promotional stuff, gifts etc. Now days you aren't allowed to run contests on products requiring purchase. But at the time, I thought it was an ingenius idea.

  6. I used to study movie blunders. Somewhere in this mess of an office is a notebook full of movie inaccuracies. My favorite one was in Days of Thunder when Tom Cruise and his Ex are arguing in the living room and she calls him "Tom" instead of his character's name. That one always makes me laugh.


  7. I can deal with an honest mistake. The ones that do me in are the ones that clearly are due to lack of research. Simple things that you can go to the library or tech store to check out. I can't tell you how often I've gone to BestBuy to ask technology questions. And I can't tell you how often I've read things in books that I know won't work--because I've checked it out for my own stories.

  8. My dad once had to give a lecture, and the prepared overhead notes had 3 mistakes on them. To ensure his lecturees stayed awake, Dad laid 3 $10 bills on the desk, mentioned there were mistakes, and the first person to spot them would get the $$. At the end, only one man went up with the list and took the money.

  9. I think we can expect honest mistakes on occasion. But sometimes they're just dumb. Read a book by a well known writer years ago and she'd set the book in an area of Oklahoma where I grew up. Her descriptions of the climate and terrain were soooo horribly off the mark I wondered if she had a brain at all. How hard is it to make sure?

    Speaking of movies/tv stuff. Remember all the Elvis TV movies? There was one with Kurt Russell as Elvis and they showed him in a dressing room. There was a brand of shampoo and a type of soft drink BOTH on the little table and neither of these things came out until after Elvis' death. Just shook my head over that.

    Ummm another inaccuracy? I once picked up a historical romance and the heroine had THREE ARMS. You guys might've seen that one. It got kind of famous because of the enormous mistake.

  10. I find a lot of inaccuracies in movies. I'm always saying out loud to the family, "My editor would never let me get away with that." Off the top of my head, however, I can't think of one.


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