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  1. #1
    Junior Member Norrin Radd's Avatar
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    Default Good examples of Deus Ex Machina in film?

    Generally, this storytelling technique, used in both movies and literature, is looked down upon.

    Are there any good cinematic examples where it was used and where it worked or didn't work?

  2. #2
    From putty 2 orange Ontir's Avatar
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    I'm blanking on specific examples at the moment; but I've seen several films, in which something/someone barely mentioned appears to save the day, and it just feels forced, and laughable.
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  3. #3
    Elder Member Sean Walsh's Avatar
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    Wasn't the big boss-of-all-machines in the Matrix, which Neo talks into letting the humans live, "Deus Ex Machina"? ;)

    I never knew this before, and I have to say I appreciate this fact and now have a bit more regard for the movie than I did before...

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    Elitist Member Ryan K's Avatar
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    Mr. Universe in the movie Serenity comes to mind.

  5. #5

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    Would Glinda in the Wizard of Oz count?
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  6. #6
    Elder Member Jared's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Kirk
    Mr. Universe in the movie Serenity comes to mind.
    I don't see how. He didn't just show up at the end of the movie suddenly to save everyone. If anything, his broadcasting station was more like a Macguffin that the hero and villain were fighting over.


    I suppose the parting of the sea in The Ten Commandments counts as a good use. Since we all know the movie is leading up to that.
    Last edited by Jared; 11-23-2006 at 02:25 AM.
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  7. #7
    Peachtree St. Irregular Loren's Avatar
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    Superman II comes to mind.

    Clark gives up his powers, and when he does so, he's told that it's forever. There's NO WAY to ever get his powers back. EVER.

    Then the Phantom Zone criminals show up. So Clark makes his way back to the Arctic, where he finds a magic green crystal that somehow overrides the absolute prohibition that was stated earlier in the film, and gives him his powers back.

    The film also pulls a huge Deus Ex Machina with the resolution of the 'Lois knows' subplot. Now that Lois knows Clark is Superman, what will happen next? Well, it suddenly turns out that Clark has amnesia-kiss powers, which solve the problem.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Buzz Dixon's Avatar
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    By definition, a "deus ex machina" (literally "god in a machine") exists to get the writer oiut of a jam of his/her own devising. Ancient Greek pagents were often improvised, and sometimes the actors who get themselves into situations where they couldn't logically get out. At that point an actor in costume as a god would be lowered via crane into the middle of the proceedings to help him out of a jam.

    In a James Bond-style spy thriller, the hero always has the perfect gimmick for a given situation. That's a deus en machina, but because it is planted early in the script it doesn't seem to come out of left field when it's used later in the film.

  9. #9
    Monkey Clown Sadness Mac Danny's Avatar
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    One of my favorites has God himself in Time Bandits. He literally stops the action and re-sets things back to order. David Warner was kicking dwarf ass until God shows up and stops him.

    Plus his castle was made of lego blocks and that is just awesome

  10. #10
    Elitist Member Ryan K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jared
    I don't see how. He didn't just show up at the end of the movie suddenly to save everyone. If anything, his broadcasting station was more like a Macguffin that the heroe and villain were fighting over.
    His character and station exist only to broadcast the recording at the end of the movie. Thus letting everyone in the world know what the Allaince did all at once. How convenient. That he popped up once earlier in the film (to let us know that he existed and that he could do that) is pretty inconsequential.

    He's exactly like one of the Bond gadgets Q will introduce earlier in the film, only to be exactly the right tool Bond needs at the end of the film.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Buzz Dixon's Avatar
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    Awwk! We over looked the most obvious example: The power suit in ALIENS. It's ever-so-casually introduced early on as just another piece of set dressing but when the time comes it's there for Ripley to use.

  12. #12

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    does unfinished cups of water count in signs?
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  13. #13
    Elder Member Black Atom's Avatar
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    Someone used the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark to explain it to me the first time.
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  14. #14
    Ooo... shiny! xnef1025's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Atom_basher
    does unfinished cups of water count in signs?
    For sure. Of course, everything was a Deus Ex Machina in that movie. That was the whole point.

  15. #15
    Elder Member The Batman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzz Dixon
    Awwk! We over looked the most obvious example: The power suit in ALIENS. It's ever-so-casually introduced early on as just another piece of set dressing but when the time comes it's there for Ripley to use.
    Is this Deus Ex Machina or just set up and payoff? You know, one of those things where if you put on gun on the table in Act One you have it fired by Act Three or however the example goes.

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