Indy and the willing suspension of disbelief. (for writers)

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blip

Sr Member
Indy and the willing suspension of disbelief.

Coleridge recalled:
"... It was agreed, that my endeavors should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic, yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.

Tolkien;
challenges this concept in his essay On Fairy Stories, choosing instead the paradigm of secondary belief, based on inner consistency of reality. Tolkien says that, in order for the narrative to work, the reader must believe that what he reads is true within the secondary reality of the fictional world. By focusing on creating an internally consistent fictional world, the author makes secondary belief possible. (wiki)

So, what are the rules to Indy's world and where do they come from?
 
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cayman shen

Master Member
Re: Indy and the willing suspension of disbelief.

I will accept that Superman can fly, because that's established as part of that fictional world. I will believe Nixon was president in the 80s of the Watchmen, because that's part of that fictional world. As long as the parameters are established, fine.

I remember scoffing at the Matrix for being over the top and silly, until I realized it was all in a computer, hence the over the top acrobatics. I accept that people fly in Crouching Tiger, because that's what the world establishes.

HOWEVER, anything the fictional world doesn't explicitly ask you to accept, you have to assume conforms to our real world. So in Watchmen, I can buy Dr. Manhattan, but not catching a bullet. It also has to be INTERNALLY consistent. I can buy that Superman is allergic to Kryptonite, so why is he lifting a whole island of the crap in Returns?

Indy is a grey area, sometimes. We are asked to accept the supernatural, therefore I buy into angels and aliens and Indian death cult stone thingys. But then he jumps out of planes, rides fridges, survives external submarine voyages...those things are harder to accept, because they're so far removed from our understanding of what's realistic.

I feel like it's understood Indy is an exaggeration. Beowulf could be underwater for 12 hours. Gilgamesh could wield a 600 lb sword. So we can treat Indy as a larger than life, exaggerated projection of our ideas of heroism as we always have, from the beginnings of literature.

Let's face it, people get shot all the time in movies and shrug it off, and we accept it because we're used to it. In real life, 99% of those wounds would totally incapacitate a person. We accept the outrageous wire-fu punches that send someone veritably floating across the room to break a wall on the other side, when in reality they would die from being struck that hard.

That is why I'm still ok with that fridge :)
 

blip

Sr Member
Re: Indy and the willing suspension of disbelief.

Agree, so in Indy world, we can screw slightly with impact, and gravity, but not the extent of the sky-walking Kung Fu movies like Crouching Tiger.

We cam screw slightly with the supernatural, by observing the secondary effects like smoke and lightning.

Seems like Indy is Action Adventure set in the 1930's with the laws of reality altered ever so slightly.
 

The Wolf

Sr Member
Re: Indy and the willing suspension of disbelief.

I feel that Indy's world looks like ours but things are heightened like a in a pulp novel.
Thus the cars, clothes, etc look like the real world but there exists the supernatural and Indy's whip changes length when needed and he gets hurt but still can take more punishment than an average person.

Wolf
 

blip

Sr Member
Re: Indy and the willing suspension of disbelief.

It’s funny that you should point out that Indy’s world is like a pulp novel.
I’ve never read a pulp novel, but your point is good, take the rules from one known world (Pulp novel world rules) and apply them to another world (Indy-verse).



Since James Bond is Indy’s father (in Spielberg’s mind), we should expect most of the Bond-world rules to go across to the Indy-verse.
Also since Lucas styled Indy on the old movie serials (like Zorro’s fighting legion) we should expect movie serial rules to apply in the Indy-verse.

Certainly the main thrust of the Indy-verse is the movie serial inspired fast cut action sequences and also the singular hero like Zorro or Tarzan or Tim Tyler.
Comic book rules also should apply, since most of the movie serials started out as comic books.
 
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blip

Sr Member
In the never ending search for story writing tips, this topic has me drifting like an inflatable yellow raft on a river of serial history.

I find myself buffeted across the rapids of very first Thomas Edison serials…usually with a female hero (Penelopy Pitstop was just the last in a long line of serial queens) only to be beached on the pebble covered banks of the Arabian Nights.

Very apt, considering the female lead in the Arabian Nights struggles to stay alive by inventing cliff-hanger endings, her life dangling from the very same cliff as the heroes in her stories.
 
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blip

Sr Member
What about the transition?

One second you're in the real world, parking your car outside the theatre, then you find yourself sitting in a theatre being slowly submerged into a fantasy world.

How important is that transition and how does it take place?
Does it have to be a soft smooth slide into fantasy?
Do the images running behind the credits act as a soft slide into the world?
Do the words "a long time ago in a galaxy far away" play more of a part than we know?
Was George Lucas right in having no credits at the front of Empire?
Can we only be eased into a fatasy, or can we be shocked in?

:confused
 
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joker-scar

Well-Known Member
What about the transition?

One second you're in the real world, parking your car outside the theatre, then you find yourself sitting in a theatre being slowly submerged into a fantasy world.

How important is that transition and how does it take place?
Does it have to be a soft smooth slide into fantasy?
Do the images running behind the credits act as a soft slide into the world?
Do the words "a long time ago in a galaxy far away" play more of a part than we know?
Was George Lucas right in having no credits at the front of Empire?
Can we only be eased into a fatasy, or can we be shocked in?
all good points stated by others above. By the mere fact that you (we) have gotten into our car, made time during the day and paid $14 to sit in a theater instead of being somewhere else, we are WILLING & EAGER to suspend our disbeleif...
NOW it is whether the filmmakers have done a good job filmming that story. all those ways of transition work, if done right and serve the story they are telling. some stories require shock entrances, ie PLANET OF THE APES...some start average enough and then begin to present odd things slowly...ie. THE THING...so there is no pat answer to your question. it depends...on the story and the people making them. James Cameron will film story "A" in a completely differant way than Coppola, even if they had the exact same script. differant actors bring differant life experience to the table as do the other filmmakers...so the end product varies....no black and white answer...sorry.
 

blip

Sr Member
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Now that’s interesting, you say that the journey into willing suspension of disbelief starts well before we enter the theatre. This explains why some theatres are so ornate like stepping into a palace from a far off land.

You say that the paying of money aids the process of emersion. Yep, that sounds right, once you have money riding on a thing you’re already invested in the outcome.

I’m not sure about your last point though, the one about sudden introduction into a world. I’d previously thought that a slow introduction was the most effective, since it gave the mind time to adjust and slide more effectively into the skin of the main character.

The first Matrix for example, how amazing and full of dread was that initial computer message. It was the utter normality of the office environment that made a few words on a computer monitor seems so shocking.

I don’t have The Planet of the Apes on DVD, so unfortunately I can’t watch the intro and see how it’s dropping you into the world. Will track it down and have a look. Will also break down the emersion technique used in Indy and Star Wars and Harry Potter.

I guess the next question is how do we exit the world? Does the style of exit create a sense of value and thus aid the films popularity with positive word of mouth reviews?
 
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Ozymandius

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
...the journey into willing suspension of disbelief starts well before we enter the theatre. This explains why some theatres are so ornate like stepping into a palace from a far off land.
No, this explains the theatre's marketing strategy. Make a place visually exciting and people will want to go there. Got nothing to do with immersion.

You say that the paying of money aids the process of emersion. Yep, that sounds right, once you have money riding on a thing you’re already invested in the outcome.
Nope. I can hang out in the barber shop and hear stories for free. Paying doesn't enhance or diminish my enjoyment of the story, only the storyteller's skill can do that.

I’m not sure about your last point though, the one about sudden introduction into a world. I’d previously thought that a slow introduction was the most effective, since it gave the mind time to adjust and slide more effectively into the skin of the main character.
Old addage in storytelling says to "start late and end early". Opening scene of Star Wars/ Planet of the Apes, etc slam bangs you into an alien world without any buildup. Instant immersion works best especially when the world you are building is vastly different from our own.

The first Matrix for example, how amazing and full of dread was that initial computer message. It was the utter normality of the office environment that made a few words on a computer monitor seems so shocking.
Here you have confused slow immersion into an environment with intentional misdirection. Not the same thing at all.

I guess the next question is how do we exit the world?
You get up from your seat and leave. If you are still immersed in the fictional world when the credits roll, then you are psychotic and need medication.

Seriously Blip, have you ever heard of the term 'overthinking the problem'? You are over analysing the minutuae to the point where you have lost sight of the actual lesson.
 

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blip

Sr Member
Seriously Blip, have you ever heard of the term 'overthinking the problem'? You are over analysing the minutuae to the point where you have lost sight of the actual lesson.
:)

If you look after the little ideas, the big ideas look after themselves. Same as money.

You might be looking at this from the wrong direction. Say you had to make up a story for your kids, how would you start it and how would you finish it?
Say it was going to be a serial, one part told each night.
What's your plan, how do you construct the tale so that it brings most enjoyment?
 
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blip

Sr Member


Above is a shot by shot of the Star Wars intro.
This was a pretty good one as far as new world introductions go.
It starts off with:
Black
Introduction text "a long time…"
Black again
Normal star filled sky…we see this every time we look up on a clear night in the real world.
Title text and a musical wake up.
More text to ease us in.
Normal star filled sky.
Normal moon.
Another moon,..this is a bit odd.
Big planet, ok, very odd..
Small spaceship..
Pursuit action.
Big ship, scale overload.
I’d call this expert gradual transition from the normal to the abnormal.
 

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