One of the several podcasts to which I listen has given me a virus. The virus is the observation that Hollywood overuses characters’ names in movies and TV shows. For some reason, scriptwriters feel it necessary to have their characters constantly calling each other by name. Sure, when one character is greeting another or trying to get the attention of another it makes sense, but when you are in conversation with a friend are you constantly saying their name?
“Hey, Dave. Did you watch the Golden Globes last night, Dave? Don’t you, Dave, think it was crazy to award The Martian as the Best Comedy, Dave?”
“Just what to you think you’re doing, Dave?”
Sorry. Slipped into my HAL 9000 impression.
So, since I caught that virus, I have become acutely attuned to noticing name usage.
When I watched Interstellar (2014) I noticed the lead character calls his daughter by her name quite a lot. I counted more than 50 usages of “Murph” in that nearly three hour movie. Now, before you think I’m crazy, I didn’t count the “Murphs” during my first viewing of the film. I counted when I watched it a second time with my wife.
In 1931, Universal’s Dracula was released and it made Bela Lugosi a star. I mention it because during the climax of the film, when John Harker and Professor van Helsing are attempting to rescue Mina Seward (Harker’s and Dracula’s love interest) from the evil vampire’s clutches and to destroy said vampire, Harker calls out “Mina” SEVENTEEN times.
“Mina! Mina! Mina, Mina!”
OK, that does make sense. He was trying to find her. They weren’t in conversation. What else would he call out? But 17 times in a segment that lasts no more than five minutes?
HBO’s Band of Brothers (2001) has an episode focusing on one private: Albert Blithe. Blithe is having courage under fire problems. He can’t seem to overcome his fear and be able to function in battle. At one point, he temporarily suffers “hysterical blindness”.
Blithe doesn’t join the fight on D Day. Blithe doesn’t try very hard to find Blithe’s unit. Blithe gets advice from a couple of Blithe’s superior officers. Blithe can’t get any sleep. Blithe, Blithe, Blithe, Blithe…
See what I did there? That’s pretty much what the episode does. It keeps having characters say “Blithe”. At one point, of all the paratroopers being called into formation, Blithe is the only one singled out by name. “That means you, Blithe!”
I get it. That private is the central focus of this part of the ten part series. You don’t have to say his name more than 25 times in an episode that runs about an hour. I’ve tried to count all the “Blithes”, but a few are obscured by the sounds of battle, so I can’t be more accurate.
Recently, I just watched the Back To The Future trilogy. I had only seen the first one when it was originally released and not again since. And I had never seen the sequels. I was pleasantly surprised to find they are all very entertaining films.
Any guesses as to how many times Marty says “Doc” in those three movies?
I don’t know, but I think it’s in the hundreds!
It’s kinda ridiculous.
And now that you’ve read this, I’ve spread the virus to you and you’re gonna start noticing all those names. My apologies.
Oh! Before I sign off. I have a nitpick with Back To The Future Part III.
Marty travels back in time to the 1880s. He meets his great, great grandparents. They are played by Lea Thompson (who also played Marty’s mother in all three films) and Michael J Fox. That was clever having Fox play the great, great grandfather, but hang on a minute…
Lea Thompson played his mother. OK, I can accept she would look very much the same as Marty’s great, great grandmother. And I can accept Seamus McFly looking very much like Marty. But I cannot accept that they were McFlys!
Marty’s mother was a McFly by marriage not blood, so why the hell would she look exactly like great, great grandmother McFly? What kind of incestuous family dynamic have we got going on here?
It’s just a movie. I should really just relax. It’s just a movie. I should really just relax. It’s just a movie…