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Technical marvels and suspension of disbelief

09-06-04a Technical marvels and suspension of disbeliefEarlier this week Angela and I wandered into our local cinema and armed with suitable munchies, we watched Angels and Demons. All was well until they got to the part set in CERN, which as any of you who have seen the film will know that it is right at the start of the film. Ho Hum!

I will not give anything away and ruin the suspense of the film for those who have not seen it yet but who do intend to. So keep reading, however you might just say out loud “Oh Yeah!” when you get to this point.

This bit got to me; a man is inside a locked laboratory containing some pretty hairy stuff (English colloquialism, means very dangerous). So, quite rightly, the security to gain entrance is state-of-the-art. Along comes your bad guy and kills him, in the room right next to the pretty hairy stuff. Are you with me so far? Victim locked INSIDE, bad guy kills him INSIDE.

Then bad guy cuts out dead man’s eyeball and uses it on the entrance scanner on the OUTSIDE of the laboratory. Huh? What’s that about? If mister assassin needed the eyeball to get out, then surely he would have used it to operate the door with the INTERNAL scanner. But no, the dripping blood (loads of it) was pooled in the external scanner.

Shall I recap? Bad man gets in, kills, gets out, turns around and operates the super security door again but this time using a dead man’s eyeball. Why? Apparently just to throw the eyeball on the floor in the laboratory.

I am told by Angela that in the book, the poor deceased mans eyeball has far greater and meaningful significance.

Hollywood just loves techno gadgets, as soon as a techno marvel appears, it would appear they believe that common sense can be forgotten and the razzle-dazzle will carry the viewer.

Unfortunately for me, once the bubble that was my suspension of disbelief was burst, it never reformed and I just saw actors playing bit parts inside plaster board stage sets. The belief that all the events and places being portrayed were not just possibly true but were actually true and believable, could never be re-established.

This was not a fault of Dan Brown’s story, this was a failing by the director Ron Howard and in his manner towards the intelligence of the audience. In that the reasoning behind the eyeball was lost, ignored, and it was only used for its shock effect.

I will read the book, it is on a pile with a few others that are waiting my attention, I expect all will be properly explained then.

As in all things in life, each teaches us a lesson and there is a lesson here for novelists. Nurture the suspension of disbelief of your reader, throughout your novel keep the flow smooth and all reasons explained. Do not ever jar your reader out of believing in the story you are weaving, because if you do, it might be the last page he or she reads.

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