4 Movie Twists That Slipped By Us All
When fictional stories are told from the point of view of a character who's been compromised in some way, or who possesses some incentive to alter the story to suit their perspective, we call that an "unreliable narrator." What you're seeing is their version of the story -- kind of like how there's your version of the petting zoo incident, and then there's the version that the traumatized groundskeeper tells the police. This happens in movies, too, and you may not even realize it ...
300 Is Ridiculously Over The Top Because It's Being Told By A Spartan
Zack Snyder's 300 is based on the 'true' story of three hundred Spartan warriors who attempted to hold back an army of roughly nine trillion Persian soldiers, an erotic rave king, and some sort of pig monster with blades for hands. All this back in 480 B.C.! Who says history is boring? The Spartans ultimately failed, but hey, we're still making stupid action movies about them to this day, so that's pretty impressive, right?
And we're anxiously awaiting a spin-off prequel about how this guy goes to the bathroom.
In reality, the 300 Spartans weren't the only Greek force fighting the Persian army; modern estimates put the Greeks' total numbers somewhere between 7,000 and 20,000, against a Persian force of 70,000 to 300,000. It was still vastly lopsided, but 300 was full of such lies. For example: Spartans didn't enter huge stabby battles wearing nothing but one red napkin over their genitals.
The film is historically inaccurate and hyper-stylized to the point of unintentional comedy, but there's actually a perfectly logical reason for these over-the-top directorial choices: The story's narrator is a Spartan soldier who wants to glorify his country.
"... and then Leonidas and Xerxes' wife totally started banging right in front of Xerxes!"
From an ancient Spartan point of view, the Persians are evil devil-worshippers who own demon harems. Persia isn't stronger than Greece because it's a richer, more unified country, but because it cheats by using dark magic. Even if actual historical records about whether or not the Persians employed bladed were-pigs are a bit spotty.
Everything about Sparta, according to the narrator, is awesome. The way it abuses its children is awesome. The way it scorns diplomacy in favor of killing people is awesome. The way it slaughters all "imperfect" babies is super awesome. Zack Snyder might be a bit insane, but he probably doesn't believe killing babies is a good thing; it's the Spartan narrator who believes that.
Although if there was one director who would advocate killing babies ...
This hyper-stylized battle scenes make sense, too: We're seeing a how a battle looks from the perspective of a war-worshipping Spartan. To him, fighting is the most awesome thing ever, and every moment is full of crazy stunts, epic action, and gratuitous slow motion to wring maximum badical from every single gesture. We're not only watching the most important battle in the history of mankind, but there's a clear good versus evil split, and the army that gets totally slaughtered somehow wind up being the real winners. You know that kid who loses a playground fight, badly, but still insists to everybody that he won? That's our narrator.
Jack From Titanic Seems Too Good To Be True, Because He Is
In James Cameron's Titanic, Rose is a wealthy socialite trapped in an abusive relationship with a fiance so evil he has to be played by Billy Zane. She ultimately falls in love with a manic pixie dream boy named Jack, they play Superman on the bow, they go dancing with the poors, they bone in the backseat of somebody else's car (like a couple of jerks), then the ship sinks, and Jack heroically sacrifices himself to spare her. It's the perfect relationship: terminated long before Rose winds up picking Jack's dirty underwear off the bathroom floor every morning.
In fact, it's a little too perfect. And there's a reason for that: Jack doesn't exist.
Or perhaps he's an amalgamation of at least three White Star Line employees that Rose put into extremely uncomfortable situations.
There are no records of Jack. There are no photos of him. There is nothing to suggest he ever existed. For decades, Rose never spoke of him to anyone. Rose herself even says that he exists only in her memories.
Rose states that Jack told her he spent his childhood by Lake Wissota in Wisconsin. This is impossible because Lake Wissota is an artificial lake that was not created until about five years after the Titanic sunk. Jack also mentions taking Rose to ride the roller coaster on the Santa Monica Pier; this is also impossible, because Santa Monica didn't even purchase the land on which to build a coaster until four years after the Titanic sunk. Both of these details are created by Rose, out of the blue, because they 'feel' like picturesque places where a wholesome symbol of small-town Americana would've grown up.
"And let me tell you the entire detailed romantic origin of his suspenders."
Rose created Jack to be the perfect imaginary boyfriend. He's adventurous enough to be cool, but innocent enough to be cute. He's only poor in the way a rich person likes to imagine poor people -- he knows secret poor-people jigs and secret poor-people parties where everyone's having secret poor-people fun because being poor is super 'real.' He's handsome and clean, even though it's 1912 and basically everybody has syphilis, and the poor have super-syphilis.
Jack is the perfect lie: Who's going to call her out on it? How many people both survived the shipwreck, and would have known Rose? If anybody asks why they've never seen this perfect man she won't shut up about, Rose can coolly answer "because his corpse is rotting on the bottom of the ocean" -- and the skeptics will look like a bunch of assholes. Jack is the boyfriend that goes to a different school. In Canada. It's a modeling school. For spies. You wouldn't know him.
"Also I had a bigass diamond necklace. Everyone told me it was the best. You wouldn't even believe how good it was."
The Breaking Bad Finale Is Mostly Walter White's Daydream
For five seasons, Breaking Bad was a gritty, realistic drama where nothing ever goes completely right for its drug-dealing anti-hero. But in the finale, Walter White neatly resolves all his conflicts -- he figures out a way to safely sneak his money to his son, he has a touching final conversation with Skyler, he completely frees Jesse Pinkman -- then takes bloody revenge with a weird mechanized car-gun that would seem wildly impractical even in a MacGyver episode.
Perhaps we were a bit liberal with the word "neatly" there.
Compared with the unforgiving bleakness of the rest of the show, the finale feels almost magical, like a dream. Because it is a dream.
In the beginning of the finale, White is trapped in somebody else's car, frantically searching for the keys as authorities close in on him. He utters a desperate prayer and then, as if in answer, the keys drop from the overhead visor like Jesus is way into Grand Theft Auto.
"Oh boy! I hope the cure for inoperable lung cancer in the other visor ... No? No? Shit."
It's just a little too convenient, and that's because this moment marks the point when reality turns to fantasy.
The rest of the episode is just a daydream: Walter is lost in an elaborate daydream where he neatly atones for all his wrongdoings, then exacts satisfying revenge on his Nazi wrongdoers with a robot-gun he builds from his own genius. It may seem like a bleak ending for a daydream, but it sure beats "I tried to hide in a car but it didn't work so I sat there for a while until the cops found me." If you've ever, even briefly, thought "they sure would be sorry if I died," you know what kind of fantasy Walter is indulging in here.
The Mad Max Films Are Post-Post-Apocalyptic Folklore
The timeline for the four Mad Max movies is confusing -- the director himself admitted "I can't even work out the chronology of the first, second, and third, let alone the fourth." The first Mad Max shows us a twenty-something Max in a not-totally-apocalyptic Australia, where there are still civilized towns with such frivolities as ice cream shops (the shops are overrun by biker gangs, so it's not exactly utopic, but it's a step up from 'hyper-violent wasteland'). By the time Fury Road rolls around, enough years have passed for civilization to not only collapse, but the old world to fade into legend -- yet 'Max' hasn't aged a day. Sadly for our reams and reams of fanfiction, Max probably isn't also a Highlander.
Although being 500 years old would really go a long way toward explaining Mel's bigoty stuff.
He's just a folk hero.
In The Road Warrior, the narrator is an old man, describing events he witnessed as a child. He could be playing it up for the grandkids, suffering from an exaggerated memory, or making it up entirely because the real wasteland is boring as shit. He even tells us that Max " lives only in my memories" -- the same thing Rose from Titanic said, so there is precedent for a crossover there, Hollywood.
Though we can't imagine Imperator Furiosa ever being asked to be drawn like a French girl.
The Mad Max movies are not an accurate history of this post-apocalyptic world, but the Hercules-style, continuity-be-damned adventures of a larger-than-life mythical figure. He's kind of like a post-apocalyptic Huck Finn, only with fewer racial epithets. Or maybe more, if you watch the uncut Mel Gibson version.
You know all those facts you've learned about psychology from movies and that one guy at the party who says, "Actually ..." a lot? Please forget them. Chances are none of them are true. Take the Stanford Prison Experiment, the one famous psychology study people can name. It was complete bullshit. Funny story actually, it turns out that when you post flyers that say, "Hey, do you wanna be a prison guard for the weekend? Free food and nightsticks," you might not get the most stable group of young men. So join Jack O'Brien, Cracked staff members Dan O'Brien and Michael Swaim, and Psychology Professor Martie G. Haselton of UCLA as they debunk Rorschach tests, the Mozart effec,t and middle child syndrome, so soon you can be that person at the party who says, "Actually ..." Get your tickets here!
For more ways you've been watching movies all wrong, check out 5 Movie Villains (Who Are Actually The Good Guys) and The First Half Of Fight Club Was In A Movie You Never Saw.
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