5 thoughts on “There’s a Certain Death Total At Which Point You No Longer Have a Happy Ending

  1. How do you cast Colm Meaney for that role and KILL HIM?!

    Amusingly, the studio also thought that it was too much, and even had them to film an alternate version (which would have instead destroyed a supply plane with only two people on it), but when test audiences didn’t react negatively to the jumbo jet crashing, the studio let them keep it in. Boo!

  2. I don’t know, Brian. I don’t think most people saw any difference between that plane and Alderaan. Whether it’s 200 people or hundreds of millions, they’re nameless, faceless and not really part of the story. Average people (meaning stupid people) don’t care. What always bugged me, was that Leia lost her parents, any other family, every person she knew growing up, and just shrugged it off like it was nothing. Of course, Luke was more upset by Obiwan’s death than that of his aunt and uncle, which is seriously fucked up. But the audience buys it because Owen is only onscreen for a few minutes and is a grouchy jerk, Beru only has about three lines, and Obiwan is a likable major character. I don’t think “scale” comes into it, only likability and familiarity.

  3. Yeah, I think Ed says what I also think about it and I really like the Alderaan-Obi Wan-example. Although I’d say it is less a thing of stupidity than a thing of storytelling and psychology: This stories almost always tell from a personal perspective. It is a difference of an anonymous mass dying or a character we learned a lot about and we are made to care about by the story itself. So we care a lot about Obi-Wan as the mentor figure we spend the first half of the movie with and we see Luke connect to, so it feels personal, while Alderaan was killed off screen and we don’t really see Leia care (which at itself is VERY strange. We don’t see Leia mourn about it as Luke did so we don’t feel the same amount of sympathy). Same for Die Hard – we are attached to John McClane and his story and happy ending, not the mass.

    I hope this doesn’t sound too heartless and emotionless by me, though. It is a total different thing if we would tell about real life where we are going to feel much more empathy when there is something bad happening.

  4. I believe this comes down to the storytelling idea that having the baddies kill some innocents show the threat posed seem more real, and thus the survival of the other innocents or heroes more meaningful.
    One more-or-less example is in the film Serenity when, towards the climax there is a major character death just before the final fight resulting in genuine tension as to whether any others would die.
    Ultimately, it is a subjective matter of how much the deaths matter to the audience, partially depending on how much the characters are known to the audience. The Alderaan deaths seem less real as they were never seen only mentioned.
    One XMen issue bothered me as the story had 2 innocent people die horribly as their souls were devoured by a demon. Should it not matter as much as there were only 2 of them?

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