Movies with paradigm
For me, movies can be cleanly
into two categories. In the first are movies that you wouldn't
to watch again, whether you liked them or not. In the other are
you must watch again because your viewing experience
be incomplete without having seen the entire film all over again.
A special class of movies in the latter
category are those with paradigm shifts. That is, the viewer's
has been altered so profoundly that the entire storyline must be viewed
in a new context. This is different than just finding out who the
murderer is at the end of the mystery. When you come to a
shift, it is a radical alteration the audience's perception of events
the beginning of the film through to the end.
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much and reading spoilers, portions of the text below is
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Crying Game -
a boy!" Yes, the rationale behind the Pet Shop Boys having Boy
sing the title song suddenly makes so much more sense. Arguably
the grandfather of the modern paradigm shifter, this is one that has
trying to get your head around what came before while asking you to
up with just where it is going.
Darko - There's
that is gradually unraveled in this one, that people continue to watch
it over and over with new in insights. A plot synopsis would be
than the screenplay, so suffice it to say we have here a parallel
that needs to be fixed by time travel causing the timestream to loop
upon itself. Did that help? No, didn't think so.
We exit the game.. or did we? This is an ending that just keeps
your mind up in knots trying to figure out where the film just took
The game wasn't what it was, was it? The entire premise of the
is altered by the time it is over. Then you can watch it from the
very beginning and enjoy a whole new movie with your new-found
Club - "Say my
"It's Tyler Durden, Tyler Durden!" If that's the case, who blew
the apartment? Who's screwing Marla? Who's screwing with
audience's head? The audience is as confused as our protagonist,
not that we know who he is anymore. Watching this movie again
trying to figure out who is the "real" one in each scene. Is he
his teeth or taking a bath? Okay, maybe not that scene.
Matrix - Neo
red pill and wakes up. Up till this point the film was about a
hacker in LA. Suddenly Neo finds himself naked and hairless in a
vat of goo and now we're in an epic post-apocalyptic tale set in the
future. This shift means re-evaluating the early scenes in the
as it turns out they were not exactly in Kansas anymore.
Drive - Each
a revelation that makes you revise your thinking about the previous few
minutes. We thought we understood where Betty/Diane and
came from and their relationship, but things keep shifting. It's
fun to work this puzzle over from many angles, but nothing beats the
time you see it and have your head twisted around a couple times.
warden throws a stone through the poster in Andy's cell, suddenly
we have to go back and re-interpret every scene that has come
Just what was Tim Robbin's character up to all those years? How
he do it? The movie spells it out almost too explicitly, but a
viewing offers additional insights now that you know how it is all
to end up.
Sixth Sense -
Crowe (Bruce Willis) finally realizes he's dead. The role of this
character suddenly switches from observer to participant in the
events. The viewer must revisit various scenes in order to
the nature of his interaction with the living world. What's going
on when he has dinner with his wife/widow? We even wonder about
implications for Cole's (Haley Joel Osment) actions. Did Malcolm
guide Cole or vice versa?
If you think of any other
films with similar "shifts," let me know (but don't spoil the ending
me). Email me.
For example: I got a couple suggestions from one reader of this page:
- Planet of the
Apes - Charlton
Heston is an astronaut who believes his ship has crash-landed on an
alien world in which apes' evolution out-paced that of humans. It
isn't until he has explored the planet some more that he comes upon the
ruins of the Statue of Libery and realizes that he has been on Earth
the whole time! (Thanks to Edwin M. for the suggestion!)
- The Others - Nicole Kidman plays a woman waiting
with her children for her husband to return from the Civil War.
She encounters many strange things in her home, things which she can't
explain, and begins to believe her house is haunted. Finally we
learn that she has been dead this whole time! She and her
children were among the ghosts that were haunting her house!
(Thanks to Edwin M. for the suggestion!)