Sunday, November 28, 2010


While watching movies I often like to read about the films in greater detail at Internet Movie Data Base is a great resource for getting background information about a film, or other viewers' opinion before you check out a flick. In addition to reviews, you can select actors or actresses and review the span of their entire careers, including future projects they have signed on to.

One section that is fun is the trivia about each film. Another page highlights good lines and dialogue fragments. And in the event you are not a regular user of the site, there is still another section which I find interesting, titled Goofs.

While I was talking on the phone with my brother yesterday he said they were being attacked by a flock of birds while on the way to the theater. He was jesting, but said it felt like a scene from the movie by Alfred Hitchcock. Based on that trigger, I chose to use The Birds to give an example of the kinds of goofs for this film.

Revealing mistakes: When Melanie is climbing upstairs we see her shadow on the wall, even though the only light source is the flashlight she is using.

Continuity: Just before the gas station explosion, gas is shown running into the left rear tire of a red car. The next shot of that car, taken from a little farther back, shows gas running near the tail of the car but the area around the tire itself is completely dry.

Revealing mistakes: When the children are running from the school while being attacked, the birds attacking them cast no shadows.

Continuity: After the seagull attacks Melanie on the boat, her hair appears disarranged. The next shot shows her hair neatly arranged again.

Crew or equipment visible: When Melanie was driving her car to deliver the lovebirds, there's a shot of the front of the car and the camera is reflected in the window.

These are just a few of the dozens of observations people have noted about this film.

If you go through the Hitchcock catalog you will see that the films are rife with goofs. But this is hardly a Hitchcock characteristic. Directors know that they must operate with seemingly countless variables while simultaneously making the story "work" and all within a fixed budget.

What prompted me to write about goofs today was, in part, seeing the quantity of goofs in Cameron Crowe's films. As I investigated further, I discovered his films have neither more nor fewer errors of continuity than his peers. And as numerous as they were, I never noticed one of them in the three films I watched last week. Viewers only care that whatever happens makes sense in the context of the dream. It's when characters themselves act out of character that we have real problems.

For what it's worth.

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