The Importance of Balancing Suspension of Disbelief and Logical Storytelling in Movies

Mason Riverwind

Updated Sunday, January 21, 2024 at 10:53 AM CDT

The Importance of Balancing Suspension of Disbelief and Logical Storytelling in Movies

The Role of Suspension of Disbelief in Film Quality

Movies were more fun when they just did things that wouldn't work in real life, like having never-ending ammo and the protagonist magically not getting shot. However, the amount of suspension of disbelief that viewers are willing to accept varies from person to person. It is one of the reasons why the quality of a film is subjective.

Relying too much on suspension of disbelief can ruin immersion and make the movie seem lazy. When a film lacks internal consistency and logic, viewers may find it difficult to stay engaged. Inconsistency in a movie's use of suspension of disbelief can also disincentivize viewers from remembering the characters' abilities and limits, further ruining immersion.

One of the prime examples of excessive suspension of disbelief is the use of never-ending ammo and protagonists not getting shot. While this may make the characters seem invincible, it removes any sense of stakes from the story. Movies like "Kill Bill" may be enjoyable, but the superhuman abilities of the protagonist remove any tension or danger from the narrative.

However, realism doesn't necessarily equate to good writing. It's more about the plot making sense within its own logic. Movies that rely on never-ending ammo undercut the drama and make it hard for viewers to care about the hero or the fight. On the other hand, limiting a hero's resources, such as having only two bullets left, can increase viewer investment and curiosity about how they will creatively escape.

Disliking movies based on nitpicking irrelevant details is seen as disregarding important aspects like themes, character arcs, and visual storytelling. Suspension of disbelief and nonsensical storytelling are not the same thing. Movies can have internal logic that makes sense within the world they create. It is crucial for movies to follow their internal logic and present challenges that make sense within the story.

For example, the scene in "Total Recall" where the protagonist uses a trick hologram to outsmart and defeat the bad guys showcases his need to think and outsmart his opponents. This creates tension and makes the unrealistic elements more engaging. In contrast, action movies like "Commando," with scenes of the protagonist gunning down a sea of bad guys with infinite bullets and no cover, can work unintentionally as comedy due to their extreme unrealistic nature.

Realism and enjoyment of a movie can only do so much for certain people. Some viewers prefer movies that balance suspension of disbelief with logical storytelling. The quality of a film is subjective, and different viewers have different thresholds for suspension of disbelief. Therefore, movies should maintain internal consistency and avoid excessive reliance on suspension of disbelief to maintain immersion and engagement.

enjoying a movie requires a balance between suspension of disbelief and logical storytelling. Unrealistic elements can be used effectively to create tension and challenges for the characters. However, movies should avoid relying too heavily on suspension of disbelief and instead focus on maintaining internal consistency and engaging storytelling. By striking this balance, filmmakers can create movies that captivate audiences and leave a lasting impression.

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