Monday, March 7, 2016

The Fun Stuff: More Plot Flaws

Deus ex Machina, a.k.a, the god in the machine.

This is fun.

The basic definition for deus ex machine is a plot twist that resolves an impossible conflict too perfectly--as if God stepped in to straighten the worst plot tangles a writer can create.  Some common examples:

  • a writer painting himself into a corner
  • the officer showing up to save the kids in Lord of the Flies
I'm going to skip on to an unlikely example (a movie).  This weekend a friend and I discussed Brazil.  I like this movie, do not misunderstand me.  

But I dislike the ending.  

The ending is too easy, like an ending I've read in too many short stories.  

"It's a deus ex machina ending," I told my friend.

If you haven't seen the movie, I'm going to ruin it here, so either plan not to see it, or stop reading here.

The last half of the movie builds, the tension continues with more conflicts, and then, the final moments reveal that the last quarter of the movie is a dream.  

Deus ex machina.  The conflicts and tension rose so much.  No outcome could be possible.  The movie maker had painted himself into a metaphorical corner.

And this is where it gets fun.  We love the plot flaws--because they are mistakes we would never make ourselves, certainly.  

Could Brazil end any other way?

Does the end, however flawed we might find it, not suit it perfectly?

Is a flawed ending, like in Brazil, sometimes fit just right?  Like in Lord of the Flies?  

Are there any flaws that can't be used for good?

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