By Kaylee Brewster
Film and television tend to repeat themselves.
If they do it enough these tropes and devices get their own special name that audiences can use to identity what is happening in a scene.
Here are some tropes and terms for the next time you are watching a movie or show and need to give that device a name.
Pratt fall or Pratfall
Definition: Staged trip or fall often exaggerated for comedic effect. It usually concludes with people landing on their rear ends.
Origins: Named after an archaic word for the buttocks (prat), the use and term dates back to circus clowns and vaudeville theater.
Examples: Any time someone slips on a banana peel.
Definition: A heroic look or stance where the character lands with feet and one fist on the ground, while the other hand is the air (thus, the term three-point landing as three points make contact with the ground).
Origins: The origins of the term are hard to track with possible beginnings in comic books, anime film or even sports. However, the term is most associated with superheroes. It became commonplace after “Deadpool” where the title character comments on three-point landings as being extra superheroic. Bonus points are given to characters that manage to crack the ground upon landing.
Examples: Just about every superhero movie.
Kubrick Stare (sometimes referred to as the Kubrick Glare)
Definition: A haunting stare when someone has their head tilted down, while looking up towards the eyebrows.
Origin: Named after film director Stanley Kubrick who used the camera angle in many of his films. It has been called the “heavy-browed look of insanity.” Film critic Roger Ebert thought it was used because it was an interesting way for Kubrick to film the human face.
Examples: “The Shining,” “Full Metal Jacket,” “A Clockwork Orange,” “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Definition: A character is given an item and told it will provide special abilities, then the item is lost and it is revealed the character had that ability the whole time and the item was just a placebo.
Origin: The phrase seems to originate from Disney’s 1941 “Dumbo” when Timothy Q. Mouse gives a crow’s feather to Dumbo telling him it will give him the ability to fly. The trope is especially common in children’s movies, giving characters confidence to accomplish heroic feats.
Examples: “Dumbo,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “Space Jam.”
Walk and talk
Definition: A technique used in film and television where characters have a conversation as they are walking. It is used to show how busy characters are, smooth out transitions from one location to another, and eliminate static scenes of people sitting and talking.
Origin: The device was used in the ’80s, but writer Aaron Sorkin made it famous in “The West Wing.” The trope has been parodied by Sorkin himself in his other work and in his appearance on “30 Rock.”
Examples: “The West Wing,” “Law and Order,” “E.R.”
Definition: A sudden change in an image or event sequence used in horror movies to get a quick reaction from the audience.
Origin: The term itself comes from causing the audience to jump in their seats. The first modern use of the jump scare was in 1976’s “Carrie.” However, its use became more common in the ’80s with slasher films. Filmmakers can overuse the device and audiences have become somewhat immune, causing the jump scare to become more of a cheap trick rather than a real horror thrill.
Examples: “Alien,” “The Thing,” “It Follows,” “The Ring.”
Definition: Realizing a logical fallacy in a film or TV show long after you finished watching.
Origin: Alfred Hitchcock coined the term when discussing how Madeline in “Vertigo” impossibly disappears from a hotel. He said it’s an icebox scene that doesn’t fully hit you until you’ve gone home and started pulling the chicken out of the icebox. This has also inspired the terms Fridge Brilliance, realizing some detail of a movie or TV show that adds a new clever layer to the story; and Fridge Horror, realizing that a detail of a story has other terrifying implications you didn’t think of before.
Examples: Any time after a movie you’ve thought, “Wait, what about …”