Editors Column #2

5 Nov

The particular phrase in question has been uttered a surprising amount of times, in hundreds of films across numerous decades.

Overused lines such as “You just don’t get it, do you?” are not the only scriptwriting clichés around but are perhaps the most prevalent. From classics such as Hud (1963) and The Terminator (1984) to barrel-scrapers such as Norbit (2007) and Cliffhanger (1993), the quip in question certainly gets around. However, unless the film is a bad egg or merely just plain insufferable, clichéd lines go by unnoticed or can at least be brushed aside through the sheer joy and entertainment that great films can provide. If the narrative is interesting and the acting good, then characters spouting off clichéd lines such as “It’s gonna blow” and “We’ve got company” can be forgiven.


Clichés in general have always been a hot topic, from film critics’ reviews to students discussing the latest film down at the local pub. Villainous henchman with useless weapon proficiency, training montages, and faulty ignitions in vehicles – all clichés that are scattered across films regardless of their genre or release date. Many people, most perhaps subconsciously, don’t mind clichés as they provide comfort and enjoyment through a certain predictability, the film can be easily compared with others that follow a similar clichéd path. Films from the James Bondfranchise typifies these ‘clichéd comfort’ films where the audience can be entertained by the film with the term and very notion of the ‘cliché’ all but forgotten with the suspension of disbelief.


However, many do view clichés in a strictly negative light. Indeed the term ‘cliché’ does conjure up pessimistic thoughts and will crop up in critiques as an undesirable aspect of the film. If clichés are a key component in their structure, films becomes predictable and even dull and will drag the film to movie-hell, ready to be savaged with criticism. The point is that any film that uses overused lines or clichés in general has to be pretty darn good for the audience to overlook them; some of the greats in recent years (The Dark Knight Rises) can be scrutinised and clichés uncovered, but their sheer brilliance blinds the majority of the audience to this fact and leads them down the path of ‘forgive and forget’.

So next time you watch a film, keep an ear out for the infamous line “You just don’t get it, do you?”. It makes an appearance more often than not.




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