Sunday, February 10, 2008

The "LOST" Techniques

I believe many will benefit from an analysis of the screenwriting techniques that are used to create one of the most successful TV shows of all time: LOST. Here's my list of the techniques - please feel free to contribute in the comments section. I will add them if I see them fit.

1) The genre that LOST belongs is "mystery". This means that a lot of questions will be posed as to the events and people inhabiting the show which the characters (and the audience) will work their asses off to find answers to.

E. M. Foster wrote in Aspects of the Novel that "The root nature of the story... has only one merit: that of making the audience want to know what happens next." (Paul Gulino, Screenwriting - The Sequence Approach). And this is what asking questions and having the characters and audience try to find their answers does exactly. As we try to figure out what happened to the Oceanic 815, who the survivors are, whether they'll survive in a hostile environment, what would happen if they did not feed those numbers in the computer in the Hatch, what the Dharma initiative is, and who the Others are, why many of the passangers are connected in their lives before the accident, we find ourselves hooked to the show.

This Q&A technique can be observed within a single scene or an episode, across episodes or even seasons. (For example, the question concerning the polar bear in the first season is addressed only in the fourth season, when many viewers had started to doubt whether this show made any sense at all.). But everytime it is used, it hooks you deeper to Lost.

Monday, February 4, 2008


Die Hard 4.0 is somewhat different from and somewhat same as the preceding trilogy. Here's my list of how and why:

Idea: McClane is the only cop who can stop a man who takes on the entire USA for revenge. In fact, the villain is after the money, as they always had been. In this sense Die Hard 4 is a coherent sequence. What is different is that this time the bad guys can really hold the entire American people hostage, thanks to their comprehensive grab of the modern day technology.

Plot: McClane has to go through certain steps until he figures out what the bad guys are after. He has to accomplish certain minor tasks before he understands the villain's modus operandi. When he does, he goes after them. As in the first two Die Hard movies, a family member of McClane is held hostage by the bad guys - this time his daughter. Which reinforces his outer motivation.

Characters: This is the part where Die Hard 4.0 gets all messed up. Bruce Willis here is not John McClane, but another version of his characters in 2000s - like Tears of the Sun. He's too unhappy, too grown-up, and less funny. He no longer has the charm that McClane possesses.

The villain's motivation is not as strong as it should be. I'm sure a guy that smart could come up with a less complicated plan for the same amount of money. But I like the inclusion of French among the bad guys. It would be too much of a cliché to insert some Muslim people who were trying to destroy the world.

The young hacker who we know from the Apple commercials is also a good choice. But Kevin Smith is a good example of bad casting. I can think of dozens of other actors who would be more appropriate for the role of Warlock.

Certain scenes are really a pleasure to watch: the ones where McClane drops a helicopter with a hydrant and another one with a car are really imaginative. But it feels like a stretch when McClane takes on a jet fighter with a truck.