hello, tv, today I want to talk about exposition.
what good and what bad examples of exposition can you think of?
are there any parameters for it that determine its quality? is reading or narration always bad?
might the only factor be wether or not it's logically included?
I find myself asking those questions whenever I learn an information in a movie about the background of the story.
Good: Mission To Mars
Potato head: Red Planet
These are basically the same movie. Earth sends a team of explorers to Mars to discover what secrets may save humanity. An unlikely cosmic collision rekts the space ship, and survivors end up on Mars with no way home. Hijinks ensue.
Mission to Mars establishes the characters and setup by placing them in a going away party which gives everyone a chance to show who they are to each other, and what they are like, how the mission came about, and what it is for.
Red Planet begins with a voice over from Carrie Moss so phoned in it literally sounds like she's reading aloud in class from an 8th grade Norton Anthology. She might as well just say "You are so stupid to be watching this movie, there is no way you can possibly comprehend it unless I spell it out for you."
The crawl in the original Star Wars gave no information not included in the first five minutes of the film.
"It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.
[Obvious from Vader's dialogue, Leia's reaction, and the opening fight.]
During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.
[Also given by Vader in dialog]
Pursued by the Empire's sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy...."
The whole gimmick was so Lucas could crib Flash Gordon.
thanks for the input, would you say interstellars dialogue with the scientists and cooper was bad, too? I felt like a tranied astronaut/pilot shoul know the things they told him about already.
especially the simplified demonstration how a wormhole works
can you specify how?
Yes, It was for the benefit of the audience, whom the producers always assume to be idiots.
Alien, while now a classic, also drops its drawers in this regard. The name Nostromo literally is written on the side of the ship, and we meet all seven (7) characters in the first five minutes, three of whom name the company, the mission, their direction of flight, and the cargo.
DiCaprio's narration in Gangs of New York is a masterclass is exposition because he begins by telling you essentially what he doesn't know: that his father (played by Liam Neeson) wasn't really his father, but a sort of governmental custodian, at an underground orphanage. He uses the line, "Most of what I half-remember..." And it's a great encapsulation of how people fall into certain types of conflict, when it benefits the government (as it would have in the years predating the Civil War).
I would actually use The Phantom Menace as another fine example of exposition. We know nothing tangible about Anakin, but we sense in a variety of ways that he's either a clone, Qui-Gon's own son, or the seed of the Force itself. It's exposition that doesn't need to demystify its subject. It doesn't announce itself like Nolan's Joker, but it's nagging.
Compare 2001 - nothing. Dropped in medias. There is a sense of engagement so rare today as to be unfamiliar to many film buffs - the sense of being alert to figure out what the context is. An evocation by the director and writer of viewer vigilance.
Three Days of the Condor has it, because they trust you. They show the name of the lit society on the worn bronze plague on the exterior wall. A great prop. A character reveals that he believes it will stop raining by 11:15am. So you know what time it is. Simple stuff.
Compare Spy Game which feels the need to title text you the time, date, location, and setup. Like I need to be told, "this prison, full of Chinese guards and Chinese prisoners, guards who are wearing Red Chinese uniforms, is, [screen title] "A PRISON IN CHINA." Thanks for clearing that up.
>We know nothing tangible about Anakin
up until now I thought you wre supposed to know
that he'll turn into vader from the start. also why would you think he was qui-gon's son or a clone?
what do you guys think of this? I know may many movies do this "text about location written on screen" because it's so easy and so oftenly done, but I'm really not a fan of it. especialy when you put the eiffeltower right there so you shuld know already. showing landmarks is also very overdone but still better than the text
It works in something like this (one of the Bournes) because it alludes to a sort of sense of 'classified information' as it's a spy flick. It suits.
It can be overdone though. Mission Impossible stands out for me as just being truly awful.