Final Seasons and Classical Drama

In ancient Greece everything was easy: A drama consisted of 3 acts.

According to Greek philosopher Aristotle a drama was supposed to have three acts. This was a strict rule and nobody dared to break it. The protasis was used to introduce the characters and the basic plot problem; the epitasis served to increase tension and to highlight the often ethical problems of the hero; the catastrophe lead to the final resolution of the problem.

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TV vs. Reality

Here’s a little test how you can find out whether reality on screen is more real to you than what so many others call “real life”. If more than half of these statements are true, then you’re a real TV addict.

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The 10 Most Shocking Endings and WTF-Cliffhangers in Film and Literature

Inspired by Sherlock’s “unhappy ending” in the last episode of season 2, I decided to collect the most shocking endings in film, literature, and Television. Endings which left us astonished, in awe, and downright confused.

1. Atonement by Ian McEwan

When I was finished reading that novel, I simply had to read it again because the ending changes everything that you have believed in and let’s you see the world of the Tallis sisters with other eyes. This is a happily ever after gone bad.

2. Fight Club

Sigmund Freud would enjoy himself gloriously watching that movie. You can picture him lying on couch, giggling with amusement because he would understand what’s going on here. The unconscious strikes back!

3. The Grey’s Anatomy Season Finales

Is there anything in the world that you can trust more thoroughly than the creative genius of series creator Shonda Rhimes when it comes to scripting a finale? Every year, Grey’s Anatomy blows my mind and it leads its characters into situations which suddenly leave them hanging in the air not knowing where to go. The only catastrophe that has not (yet) taken place is probably dinosaurs taking over Seattle.

4. The Sixth Sense

No need to talk about that. You all know the ending, don’t you?

5. Se7en

When this movie starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman hit the cinemas, it was not yet known who the villain would be. So imagine sitting in a cinema and expecting to watch a Brad Pitt-flick and then there is… No, I’m not gonna tell who plays the villain just let me add that I met him personally, twice.

Plus, the overall plot of the movie is just genius, I think. “What is in the booooox?”

6. Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days

You knew they were gonna make it, but then they didn’t and you thought “Oh, no!”? Well a nice twist in the end can turn losers into heroes!

7. The Life of David Gale

Maybe for some of you, the ending was not a surprise but I clearly couldn’t get my head around it. It was surprising, smart, and moving… Plus: The movie offers a sequence of Kevin Spacey explaining Lacanian psychoanalysis. This does render it a must-see!

8. Shutter Island

I mean… let’s admit it. Was any of us really sure what had happened on that island? Really, really sure? If so… would you please explain it to me??

9. The Prestige

This movie is about the competition between two magicians. Just when you thought that the one of them now finally triumphed over the other you have a look at your watch and see that the movie goes on for one more hour. Then the game begins. You are never quite sure when this movie will end because you constantly think “Now, that’s it! He won.” and then the other magician comes back with a vengeance. Great popcorn cinema.

10. Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber

Angela Carter is a feminist writer who re-writes fairytales. Her stories are so uncanny and twisted that somehow you anticipate the outcome but somehow you are still a bit shocked in the end.

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And my special prize goes to….

John Rambo

The ending of John Rambo is surprising because after having watched it, you will wonder how you could actually watch the whole movie. This movie earns the pole position on my “Why the hell did I watch that?”-list.

And yes, I do own this movie on DVD but just to force others to watch it, too.

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I know that there are a lot more twisted movies for me to see and this page list the 50 Best and Worst Twist Endings in Movies. Some of which I like are rated fairly low by them but I stick to my list. I like a good twist in a story and could babble on for ages about the genius of Atonement. What are your WTF-moments in TV, film or literature?

Sherlock – How I Think He Did It

In Germany the last episode of the UK series Sherlock has just been broadcast and I there are so many wild thoughts on my mind that I can’t possibly go to bed now but need to share them with you.

Attention: If you have not watched Sherlock “The Reichenbach Fall” then please do not read on! No really: Don’t!

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Ok, so Sherlock jumped off the roof, except that I don’t think it was Sherlock and most of you won’t either. It can’t have been Sherlock because he’s alive.

So, here’s what I think happened:

Sherlock definitely asked Molly for help and Sherlock was the one who proposed the rooftop of the hospital as a meeting point to his nemesis Moriarty. My theory is that Molly has been there all along. It might even be that the text message shown (“I’m waiting. JM”) was from Molly? M would fit, what’s her surname? (Ok…. I know, it’s rather awkward to put the initials in the reverse order, but hey! Allow me some creative freedom!)

I think Sherlock was prepared all along, too. In the German translation, Moriarty says “Ich schulde Ihnen einen Fall.” (“I owe you a fall.”) Is this just a happy coincidence in translation or an intended pun? Maybe some of you could help me by telling me what the English original is saying? So, according to the German translation, Sherlock might have anticipated his fall.

Now, when Moriarty shot himself Sherlock could quickly sprint down the stairs and… get on a bicycle! On the rooftop, Molly dresses dead Moriarty in Sherlock’s signature coat and Sherlock (already on the streets) places Watson in a position where he cannot really see the person on the roof. Molly pushes Moriarty off the roof, Sherlock (on the bicycle) knocks over Watson and rushes to Moriarty on the pavement. If Molly and Sherlock are really, really quick and have a car ready, they could get rid of Moriarty’s body, Sherlock can lay down on the pavement and as soon as Watson is conscious again, he catches a quick glance at Sherlock which is enough to convince him that he is actually dead.

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These are only my initial thoughts and there is a great chance that I will wake up tomorrow and feel really ashamed for this post because it just doesn’t add up. I myself can see a lot of problems with this thesis but some of it’s aspects might maybe turn out to be true.

This is nothing more than my humble attempt at understanding the genius mind of Sherlock Holmes.

You Can Find Me At Downton Abbey

I am not a big fan of costume dramas. It took me ages to watch all the parts of the Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice. This is why I was hesitating when everyone in England was talking about the latest episodes of a show called Downton Abbey. 

Yet, with a long weekend to come I decided to take the DVD home with me from university and to have a look at what all this fuzz is about… Well, what can I say except for: Can I please rent a room at Downton Abbey!?

I. Am. Addicted!

This weekend I watched each episode of the first two seasons: I was laughing, I was nervously biting my nails, and I was crying… crying a lot.

Downton Abbey is the country estate of the Earl of Grantham (played by Hugh Bonneville whom some of you might remember as Bernie from Notting Hill), his wife and his three daughters. The first episode is set in 1912 and begins with the sinking of the Titanic and thus the death of the heir of Downton Abbey, the Earl of Grantham’s nephew. This changes the whole family and it is soon revealed that a lawyer from Manchester will be the next heir of Downton. A middle-class lawyer, who is received by the aristocratic and slightly snobbish family with a good portion of skepticism. However, they soon learn that the new heir is not a nasty upstart, but a very lovable, good-natured young man and wait for the eldest daughter, Mary, to fall in love with him. This is the beginning of an epic love story between Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley, future heir of Downton Abbey.

What gives the show its twist is that – unlike in all the Austen movies and typical heritage films – you also get a closer look at the servants who inhabit the attics and cellars of Downton Abbey. Some of them are loyal, some of them recognize that aristocracy is an outdated model and rebel against their status in society. By means of eavesdropping, open doors, and gossip, the problems of the aristocracy and the servants are caught up with each other and the perfect surrounding for intrigues and love stories is created.

In the beginning, I told you that I do not like costume drama. What I find upsetting and also problematic about it is that all the Austen adaptations etc. advertise an image of the English past that has never actually existed. There is no war, no working class, and in the end all the couples are neatly brought together according to their social status. Yet, while Austen’s novel do criticize this with a certain amount of irony and thus create awareness for the injustices in society, the film adaptations often gloss over Austen’s irony by foregrounding the (commercially attractive) love story and thus exploit the audience’s nostalgia.

Downton Abbey does not do this! The plots in Downton Abbey are so absurd that you do not conceive of it as an honest image of the past. While the writers include historical events like the sinking of the Titanic or WW-I, the stories are exaggerated and you can hardly belief what the characters are forced to endure in only one lifetime. Downton Abbey entails a huge cast and what is so exciting is that the characters all have their good and bad traits. Of course, you can tell apart the good guys from the villains but you are invited to feel for each of them. They all get their ups and downs in this Regency roller coaster.

The series is very fast paced and there are huge time jumps which allows the audience to experience a time of groundbreaking changes and alterations in society. While the aristocracy is not amused about all the footmen being sent to war (I mean… You cannot have maids in the dining rooms, so who is serving you food??), the servants are slowly realizing that there might be other paths in life for them and that war – if only for a short time – dissolves social boundaries. And while some members of the Earl of Grantham’s family also feel the change and the need to change, you will always get a snappy comment from his mother (gloriously played by Maggie Smith), who considers the telephone an invention of the devil and thinks that electric light will be a trend that won’t survive for long.

This mixture of (melo)drama and an ironic and simultaneously nostalgic glance at the “glorious” past makes Downton Abbey my new favourite TV show.