WATCHING WITH 9 YEAR OLDS
Everybody should watch movies with 9-year-olds.
Hunter, Lisa and I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark
together last night. Hunter enjoyed the movie, but complained that, in the end, all the adventuring Indy had done didn't matter. The Ark pretty much took care of itself, didn't it? ROLA is the CLASSIC example of deus ex machina
. Literally, in fact, if you can call an ark a "machina."
(It occurs to me that it depends on what the stakes are -- if you believe that Indy's in it for the archeology, and not to protect the US from Hitler getting a biblical WMD, then I guess it does matter, but then what kind of nut is he to put people he loves at risk over a golden box?)
I can think of a few easy fixes for the deus ex machina
offhand, though they might not havebeen worth the trouble -- the d.e.m. is so spectacular you can forgive it, as the ancient Greeks probably forgave their playwrights when the god appeared through stage magic. But it's interesting that no one tried to fix it. Obviously they didn't consult any nine year olds.
It's also interesting to see what question Hunter asks during the movie. He always wants to know if this or that person's going to get hurt -- will the cat survive Alien
? -- and why people are doing this or that. These are probably the questions your audience is asking silently, at some level.
Everybody should watch movies with 9 year olds. You get to see how
they're watching the movie. And if you can write a movie that a 9 year old gets, without it condescending to his or her level, you've probably got a pretty good movie. (If you're writing a movie with lots of yucky kissing, of course, you're outta luck.)