I Have a Peripheral Vision Problem
I’m referring to what characters in movies and television shows don’t see but should
It’s long been accepted by audiences that movies and TV shows will take the occasional liberty with reality. This is called the willing suspension of disbelief. A fistfight? We see two guys slug each other for minutes when in real life one well-landed punch to the face will knock out or at least waylay a person, and yet a fight scene in an episode of Yellowstone is accepted without concern for its believability. That includes me. We like watching fights. They’re exciting!
Sometimes a suspension of disbelief is employed to convey the strength or stamina of a character. There’s a scene near the end of I, Robot where Will Smith climbs several dozen floors of a skyscraper. We don’t see the climb — and I can’t show you a clip of it either due to copyright issues. We see what Del Spooner (Smith) sees when he arrives at the basement of building. It’s going to be an arduous climb: “Two thousand eight hundred and eighty steps, detective,” says Sonny, a robot that has accompanied Spooner. This realization is followed by a long shot of the exterior of the building with twists and turns of the camera to convey the nature of Spooner’s climb, and then, once he reaches the top floor of the building, we see him emerge sweatlessly and in full breath and not looking drained at all, with gun in hand and ready for action. Is it accurate to call this moment a “suspension of disbelief”? StudioBinder defines suspension of disbelief as “the avoidance of logic in works of fiction.” So if you run up two thousand eight hundred and eighty steps — even walk up two thousand eight hundred and eighty steps — and you’re not panting by the time you reach your destination, yeah, that’s a suspension of disbelief.
Sometimes a suspension of disbelief has to do with an event that seems out of sync with what has already been established about a character, which in this case, concerns Michael Douglas’s affable and empathetic President Shepherd from The American President. I’m thinking of the flower shop scene. The president has been hankering to make a personal purchase of flowers for his soon-to-be girlfriend, and so while en route to a particular destination the president sees a flower shop and tells his driver to…