What do the Ark of the Covenant, the Maltese Falcon, and Unobtanium all have in common? They are all versions of the MacGuffin, one of the most commonly used tropes of all time. The MacGuffin is simply what they are after; what the hero is chasing, trying to find, or trying to protect.
The MacGuffin has been a trope in stories for as long as there have been stories (see the Golden Fleece in Jason and the Argonauts) but it was first given its name by Alfred Hitchcock who credited one of his screenwriters with the term. The MacGuffin is the external motivation for the hero’s journey but has little to do with the hero’s actual character arc. In its purest form, the MacGuffin could be replaced with any other item and the story would remain essentially the same. Read more
Whether you live or die in a movie or TV show depends on how secure your contract is. But if you’ve been signed on for the sequel or the next season, then any medical emergency can easily, though dramatically, be solved through CPR!
In the real world, CPR stands for Cardiopulminary Resuscitation. But in trope world it stands for Clean, Pretty, and Reliable. What’s the difference? In real life, CPR is an emergency procedure used to buy time for a victim until more advanced treatment can be given. If someone’s heart and/or breathing stop then brain damage and tissue death can set in fairly quickly. CPR gets the blood and oxygen flowing in an attempt to delay the damage until the patient can be revived. But CPR alone usually does not revive the patient. But not so in Hollywood! Read more
I’ve occasionally stumbled across Ted Talks on MentalFloss.com but I’ve never really had the time to explore them. Yesterday I discovered this 20 minute manic and somewhat scattered speech by Lost & Alias creater, JJ Abrams. While I do wish he had gone a little deeper into the topics, I appreciate his perspective on mystery & what good “action” movies are really about. His thoughts reveal why he is such a successful writer and director. Enjoy.