Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Silver Screen Peeve

Last night I went to see the movie, "Water for Elephants." I had enjoyed the book, and heard that the movie followed it fairly well. I will not be making any sort of movie review other than to say I'm glad I saw it, but it's not going on my "buy to keep" DVD list.

However, it did again highlight two peeves about movies, especially movies of late.

1. What's up with the mumbling? Either my hearing is going already, the sound system in the theaters I attend sucks/I'm getting spoiled by watching DVDs on my laptop with headphones in, or, more likely, I think, actors and directors seem to think that speaking quickly in an monotone while there's a noisy soundtrack underneath is somehow more dramatic. Instead, I spend my whole time straining to understand half of the more informative conversations, especially those critical to the storyline.

2. Details, folks. Water for Elephants is set in a Depression-era fictional circus that aimed to outdo the infamous Ringling Brothers Greatest Show on Earth. At least two major scenes in the second half of the movie featured the grand entry and spectacular of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, with all the big acts parading into the big top to the accompaniment of the circus band playing the entrance march. The march used in the movie is the immediately recognizable, Barnum and Bailey's Favorite. Well, except Barnum and Bailey's circus was by that time merged into the Ringling Bros.

The venomous attitude of the owner of the fictional Benzini Bros. would have never have allowed that march to be played in his circus, even if it was out of fashion with Ringling Brothers at that time. How simple would it have been to create a new fictional circus march instead of stealing one that is so recognizable and so completely and totally wrong? Yes, it's a small thing, but the devil is in the details.

Perhaps that small inattention to such details is an indication of why this movie is not going on my all-time favorites list.

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