People tend to freak out when I discuss the plot points of recently released movies that they have yet to see. These people need to relax. AFI has a list of the 100 Greatest Movies. The most recent one was Fargo in 1996.
I was born in 1986. Before I could ride a bike I knew that Humphrey Bogart and Claude Rains at least began a beautiful friendship. I knew Clark Gable, quite frankly, did not give a damn. I knew that James Earl Jones was Mark Hamil’s father, despite his protests to the contrary. I knew that Janet Leigh should have locked the door before showering in the Bates Motel. I knew that Orson Welles really missed his sledding days. I knew that James Caan should have waited for his bodyguards before taking that fateful drive down the causeway. I knew that Robert Redford and Paul Newman were, in fact, in trouble. And I knew that sometimes, it is easier for Jack Nicholson to forget things, particularly while in Chinatown.
Like the fact he is from New York.
Those films, and countless others, were ‘spoiled’ for me. Nevertheless, I saw all them all. They were still highly enjoyable, despite the fact that I knew Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss really could have used a bigger boat and that, apparently, dreams are made of avian paperweights. This is because movie-going isn’t about being surprised. It’s about escapism. It’s about enjoying a story being told to you that has a familiar plotline, characters, and outcome. If you can’t enjoy a movie because you know what’s coming, my suspicion is you aren’t going to enjoy most movies because the vast majority of things have been done before:
- The Lion King is based on Hamlet. Yes, Simba is Hamlet. Yes, Timon and Pumbaa are Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. No, it doesn’t matter that the meerkat, warthog, lion queen, lion prince, and the lion prince’s bonny lass survive. It’s Disney. Nala can’t drown herself halfway through a G-rated movie. And there are no nunneries in animal kingdoms.
Shhhhh. Just jump in and feel death’s welcoming embrace…
- The Departed was basically a shot-for-shot a remake of Infernal Affairs, a film made in Hong Kong in 2002. There’s a sequel, too. Fingers crossed for Leo’s resurrection.
- Unforgiven’s climax is taken straight from The Iliad. I know Clint Eastwood doesn’t drag Gene Hackman’s body around town, but his best friend dies and he suddenly ceases moping and transforms into an enraged, unstoppable killing machine.
- Cold Mountain is The Odyssey, sirens, suitors, slaughter and all.
- Hunger Games is a rip-off of a Japanese film, Battle Royale. Look it up, if you don’t believe me. I’m still unsure how both movies got green-lighted.
- Neo is Jesus.
Neo dying for the sins of mankind. Is further explanation really necessary?
As such, there is no point in complaining about spoilers in new movies since although they have already technically been ‘spoiled,’ they can still provide entertainment and pleasure. Moreover, most new movies are, by definition, average, so even if they were ruined, it is a pretty minor occurrence in the grand scheme of things, particularly when every movie (including the great ones) released before you were born was ruined for you. So relax.
Oh and there’s a thing called history.
Sorry if it ruins Daniel Day-Lewis’ latest film for you.