BBC - Mark Kermode's film blog

« Previous | Main | Next »

You Talking to Me

Post categories:

Mark Kermode | 17:15 UK time, Friday, 15 October 2010

That time has come around again when I get to talk about what you are talking about on the Kermode Uncut blog, which this week includes the delights of the cinemas of your childhood and the terrors of Buried, Devil and Eat Pray Love (Vomit).

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.


  • Comment number 1.

    It's a hedge?

  • Comment number 2.

    Ten years seems about fair for plot spoilers. I thought you were okay on that.

    The boat sinks at the end.

    The husband isn't really dead.

    He was the virgin sacrifice all along.

    Not only is she the killer, she's also A MAN.

  • Comment number 3.

    Continuing on from the above post;

    Tyler isn't real.

    Louis Cypher is the Devil.

    The detective is the killer.

    He gets back and the Doc isn't dead.

    Yes two are from the same film, tell me which and you'll get a gold star.

  • Comment number 4.

    I think ten to fifteen years is okay for plot spoilers. This is the great problem with plot twists: If they are really effective then everybody will soon know about it, making it less effective in future. However, if it's crap then it's blatantly obvious or just nonsensical. Look at M. Night Shang-a-lang's movies, his twists became expected and quite frankly...who cares anymore? And there's only so many twists that can be done.

    Oh, and HE IS HIS FATHER!

  • Comment number 5.

    Oh an one more than I forgot;

    They give the baby back at the end.

  • Comment number 6.

    @MrBogle: Angel Heart?

    He was still on Earth the whole time!

  • Comment number 7.

    Bad one this but it is over 10 years old:

    Verbal is Keyser Soze.

  • Comment number 8.

    The butler did it. And it was all a dream anyway.

    I think the point about Dumbledore's Unhappy Event was that while the book had been out there for some years, the film had not, and there are people out there who haven't read the books and have no intention of reading the books, like me. The Vanishing (Spoorloos) has been out there for a while now, and Dr K does bring it up regularly, for example whenever the scary/12A issue comes up.

  • Comment number 9.

    I only watched Citizen Kane for the first time a few weeks ago. Before I even put the DVD in I said to myself "It's a sledge", because it's the example you use every time when the subject of spoilers arises. I realise it was released in 1941 but I was born in 1989, making all that time irrelevant. A great film nonetheless.

  • Comment number 10.

    Nice round up of comments Dr K!
    Damn it @Amber you beat me to it! I was gonna say Angel Heart!

    He was on earth all along!

    He escaped through a whole behind the poster!

    I am your father!

  • Comment number 11.

    She's given birth to the Devil's Spawn!

    His mother wasn't the killer after all!

    Harry isn't dead!

    It was all a dream!

    He's actually about to die you know!

    He's an alien clone, don't talk to him!

  • Comment number 12.


    Dumbledore dies!!! the film is ruined! x(

  • Comment number 13.

    All spoilers are fine after about 5 years (as long as it's not something I've been meaning to get round to watching).

  • Comment number 14.

    Am enjoying this game so will contribute the following:

    The demons were hoodies with masks on!

    Borden has a twin brother!

    It all takes place in present day!

    Charlie is one half of Robert De Niro, who has a split personality!

    As far as The Vanishing issue is concerned, I agree with the five year moratorium. Any shorter and you're giving people enough chance to see it, and any longer is simply unnecessary.

  • Comment number 15.

    To those that say they regret (through youth) having not experienced having local cinemas like the Phoenix (nice cinema; been there a few times) that showed films, now considered classics, as part of routine double bills etc.

    These local cinemas were (mostly) killed off by VHS video, the video/DVD rental shops and by satellite TV.

    To those that say they never had the experience of the local cinema, but only have the modern multiplex, never say never.
    Technology is fast changing; I now watch more TV on my PC than on a TV set.

    I spent a formative part of my movie going years in my local flea-pit back in the 70's. (Mine was the Belgrave cinema on Mutely Plain in Plymouth. Last time I visited it was being used as a snooker hall.)

    Bear with me, this has a point for you too.

    Back in the days the main Odeon & ABC cinemas in the centre of town showed the latest big features first; but most districts had a local cinema that showed these films shortly after the first-run at the main cinemas had ended. (The equivalent back then of it going nowadays to Sky or DVD.)

    These local cinemas were well supported (if dingy - and often rowdy; smoking was allowed back then and many were near local pubs).

    Often the bills were of movies judged to be popular attractions; war movies, westerns, Clint Eastwoods and the like got shown over and over again.

    However, more imaginative owners would also book a supporting feature (double bills were commonplace back then) that otherwise wouldn't get a large audience; though attracting much critical attention; I suspect many of these cinema owners were also cinephiles, and realised they also had a loyal (if smaller) audience with similar tastes.

    This could mean seeing, say, a subtitled Polanski film supporting a rubbish dubbed Spaghetti western; a somewhat surreal pairing, but trying to please two audiences.

    Don't bet that the multiplexes will be there in 30/50 years time.
    If we can soon consume movies as easily as we can now watch TV programmes, on demand, on iPlayer (if by a Pay-per-View system) and view them on a large screen (it doesn't have to be a TV) then the multiplex may become part of history too.

    I admit, I have borrowed pirated movies from friends of friends, and only a day or two after they are released.

    No the quality isn't as good; but you get the whole movie.
    They just download, burn to DVD and sell for a £ or two. The major studios releasing movies on an iPlayer (if pay per view basis)can't be more than a decade away; that's one reason why the studios are now so keen on 3D, only shown in multiplexes; it's hard to pirate.

    I'll also mention one of the biggest surprises, to me at least; that people seem prepared to watch video (Youtube, iPlayer etc) on very small screens; the rise of the handheld device, net books, iPads etc.

    Never say never. When you're Mark's age you might be taking about multiplexes; and those half your age might be envious.

  • Comment number 16.

    Any chance of teaching your Cameraman the basics of cinematogrophy?. If not just please tell them to leave alone the zoom.

  • Comment number 17.

    Well, I have now watched the Vanishing having all tension removed from myself given that I already knew the horrifying ending.

    It's ridiculous that a film can be spoiled after a certain amount of time. I think it's less to do with how long the film has been out, but more to do with how popular it is. Most people I know wouldn't mind if I spoiled Inception because, well, they've already seen it. But they'd be mad if I spoiled The Vanishing for them.

  • Comment number 18.

    I don't think there should be a time limit, after which its ok to reveal an important aspect of a movie. The worry with such a thing is that it labels all movies who have such aspects as worthy of equal treatment. So the reveals of "Psycho" or "The Vanishing" are treated equally with something like "The Happening".

    Instead I say before speaking about a given film ask yourself the following questions:

    "Is this film worthy of seeing, and if so is this aspect of it pivotal to its merit?"

    "Does telling this information to someone who hasn't seen the movie impact negatively on the films merit?"

    If the answer is "yes" then don't reveal the point.

  • Comment number 19.

    It is never acceptable to give away the ending of a movie regardless of when it was made.

    I am sick to death of programmes, magazines, etc, that compile a list of best movies, and spoil the ending, or pretty much reveal most of the plot.

    When critics give away spoilers then you’re not enticing the majority of the audience to watch the movie, they will simply skip it and move on to another movie, because they feel that now they know the punch line, then there is no need to see the film, therefore you have lost a potential fan(s) of the movie rather than gaining them.

    For example, I have never seen Don't Look Now, as I don't see the point in watching it because you (Mark) have given away the ending, and various pivotal scenes throughout the movie.

    Now it’s not just you that have spoilt Don‘t Look Now, there have been loads of other critics who have gone in to great detail about it, and there is even a pop band called Big Audio Dynamite in which their music video is made up of various scenes from the movie.

  • Comment number 20.

    Another "spoiler"; she actually dies... which reminds me - don't forget to buy the Alien Anthology on Oct. 25th, which features TWO cuts of the Doc's excellent Alien: Evolution!!!!

  • Comment number 21.

    We really are at the end of civilisation (lol) when people complain about critics, reviewers and theorists discussing films and giving stuff away. That a film is valuable for its last five minutes misses the point entirely.

    @ Adam: Kane - rosebud = sledge... well, no, it doesnt. That is to miss the point entirely. Its like saying the six seasons and 100 plus episodes of Lost were about the last five minutes...

    Its like saying your life is 'about', or given meaning by the last five minutes of it....

    @ Staurt Yates - only you are missing out dude... all those great films, cos you think you know them... Knowing the plot, the twist or a couple of scenes - or thinking that you do - is not experiencing the actuality of work of art... the film...

    My point is this, do you think the people who love films like Citzen Kane and Don't Look Now, for example, have only watched them once? No, no, no, no... to believe that is mass consumerism at its most abhorent...

    Any film that is exhausted by revealing its last five minutes is not a film worth remembering anyway...

    So how long? Whatever... and if you dont want to know, dont look... see the film then engage with the critics, reviewers and theorists... use them in dialogue between yourself and the film... dont rely on them to tell you which films to see... they are not mummy and daddy! Engage with them after you have seen the film...

  • Comment number 22.

    Hi Mark,

    On the subject of plot spoilers, I think you are smart enough to use your own discrection. Following the scolding you recieved for your introduction to Ringu on Film Four, all those years ago, you seem to you have learned your lesson. :p

    Simon Mayo on the other hand!!! Every time you are reviewing a new film, tip-toing around a potential spoiler, Simon seemingly can't help sticking his beak in, asking silly questions and speculating about what you are trying to avoid giving away. This is very annoying. Please ask him to stop. For my mind, spoiling a film is a cinematic crime up there with kicking the back of your cinema seat, texting or talking during a film.

    Apart from that, love your work (yours and Simon's). Keep up the wittertainment.

  • Comment number 23.

    @ Pirates_Rocks
    while I can't agree with you on the crime being to reveal spoilers (surely a spolier is like a gun, not very dangerous until used... maybe the crime is not the critic/reviewer/theorist who reveals, but those that go looking for the reveal)... you are onto something with true cinmeatic crimes... but I would add one... a big one...


    The endless march of soldier antz across the entire film... crunch crunch... crunch... people, dont do it. It aint good for you either, and its over priced... trying filling one thing at a time... at a cinema: our eyes and ears... at cafe: our guts

  • Comment number 24.

    Regarding the ammount of time before it's OK to reveal a spoiler is too difficult to pinpoint.

    In 1999 during the lead up to the release of The Phantom Menace, I met some people who were preparing themselves for the new film by watching the original trilogy for the first time. They'd only watched the first one, but I told them they were in for a treat with the second one as it was much better. "Why, what happens?" they asked, "Well, obviously you've got Hoth, Yoda and that great lightsabre battle where Darth Vader reveals himself to be Luke's father". 18 years after the release, they were unaware of this very famous 'plot twist' which I'd accidentally just spoilt, assuming that even if they hadn't seen the film, they would at least be aware of this revelation.

    Personally I believe that if a twist has enetered popular culture's collective consciousness or has been parodied in other mediums then it's OK to talk about it.

    Mind you, I got a ticking off earlier this year on internet forum (similar to this one) where I was accused of spoiling the 50 year old Psycho!

  • Comment number 25.

    A lot of times a film's trailer acts as a bit of a spoiler - I watched Four Lions recently but after seeing the trailer (which shows the four of them down at the marathon in their costumes) for me it spoiled any of the tension the film tried to build up to that point.

  • Comment number 26.

    Re: Spoilers/ Endings

    I recently saw a DVD cover for 'Planet Of The Apes' which features a depiction of *that* famous last shot so if that isn't a massive spoiler than I don't know what is.

    On a similar note, the current trailers for 'Paranormal Activity 2' feature a short clip of the ending to the first one and, as it's currently getting heavy promotion, it's almost guaranteed to veer into the eyeline of people who have yet to see the original.

    Although accidentally finding out about spoilers can be irritating, it won't necessarily ruin a film. Psycho, Seven, There Will Be Blood and Don't Look Back are all films that had endings I knew about before watching and my appreciation of these great films didn't feel diminished in any way.

    A good film doesn't need to rely on a surprising finale to fulfil my enjoyment of it, it's just another aspect to take into consideration.

    On the other hand, there are numerous films that are generic and dull that rely on a twist at the end to grab an audiences attention.

    Ever since we had the twist-tastic double header of 'The Sixth Sense' and 'Fight Club' over a decade ago, we have been inundated with films (of varying degrees of quality) that utilise these twist endings that make you question everything you've just seen.

    I think the reason for this trend is to create films that require repeated viewings because now, in the age of DVD/Bluray, filmmakers are well aware that a film's success goes beyond the box office receipts. Which, as well as being a profitable exercise for the studios, is also something that can be used creatively.

    For example, Christopher Nolan is a director that has perfected the art of making films that a lot of people will feel the need to watch more than once; Memento, The Prestige and Inception are all films that, as well as being highly enjoyable first time round, leave the audience with enough questions to want to revisit the film.

    Sorry, I veered off-topic at the end there, I bet you didn't see that coming...

  • Comment number 27.

    The debate about whether it's OK to reveal endings reminds me of an experience I had as a student at uni when our media studies lecturer circulated the infamous fake story for which Janet Cooke won a Pulitzer (which she had to hand back). Details here:

    He asked the class to comment on the content of the story and as students discussed it, I piped up with "But you're all talking about it as if it's real when it's fake". Of course I had spoiled the lecturer's twist ending and he was none too pleased. He asked "How did you know about this story?" and I replied "Um...I read the newspaper." I was incredulous to find that this story didn't count as "general knowledge", particularly among students purportedly interested in media. I thought that anyone with a passing interest in current affairs couldn't help but know about this affair (which had only happened a few years before). It was an enormous story at the time.

    I'd argue the same with many spoilers associated with classic and popular films. Surely, particularly if you're interested in film, things like the ending of Citizen Kane and The Sixth Sense count as "general knowledge". I can see the argument that the ending of The Vanishing is probably only known by film buffs but, er, that would be us, wouldn't it?

  • Comment number 28.

    I think myself that if the enjoyment of a film collapses after you know the plot twist, it probably wasn't that good of a film to begin with.

    It's not like Citizen Kane is only a film about the sled. In the case of The Vanishing, yes the ending is surprising but that scene alone isn't why the film is so scary. It's the quietness of it, how everyday it seemed and the detached, bureaucratic manner in which Lemorne carries out his work. It's actually a film that I myself have found gets more under the skin more in repeat viewings. Good films aren't just plot points, they're whole experiences.

    Besides that, it's pretty damn hard to have any sort of reasonable, intelligent discussion about The Vanishing without bringing up that somebody gets buried alive. Particularly when you're trying to discuss movies where people are buried alive.

    Oh, and Soylent Green is people.

  • Comment number 29.

    Karass dies.

  • Comment number 30.

    this comment from Orthodox Caveman?

    FANTASTIC Sunn O))) show.

  • Comment number 31.

    .... But then he hasn't.

  • Comment number 32.

    Spoilers: Leslie Felperin in the 90's was, amongst other things, an on air reviewer on the dear departed BBC Greater London Radio (which had a format close to what is now the saved by public acclaim BBC 6 music). She thoroughly blotted the spoiler copy book with such gems as a) describing in detail a sequence which "turns out to be a dream" (hint the director probably didn't want the audience to know it turns out to be a dream, until, it turns out to be a dream), b) on Gus Van Sant's remake of Psycho, she said, just in case you don't know the original, here's what happens... (cue Hitchcock rising from the grave to bitch slap both Leslie and Gus), c) she ruined David Lynch's Lost Highway by saying that midway through x (old actor you had no idea was in it) unexpectedly shows up and does y (causing me to sit through half the film waiting for the conjunction of x and y). She put me off all film reviews to the extent that I'd switch over from any reviewer, and it is only in the last few years that I followed a friend's suggestion to check out Mark and Simon's podcast. In their defence, I'd say I've found what they do relatively free of serious spoilers.

    What many of us need is a quick Rohypnol / Sunshine of the Spotless Mind / Men in Black memory scrub to delete the plethora of publicity, review, trailer and word of mouth based info that unfortunately hovers in the back of the mind whilst watching our movies. Some have the gift of putting all that aside, bless 'em.

    Old Cinemas: I do feel comparatively lucky do be old enough to remember unpartitioned single screen cinemas, all night film festivals and rep cinemas. On the other hand, you youngsters have missed seeing beloved cinemas being carved up into jerry-rigged multiscreens with paper thin walls that bleed the soundtrack of the next screen's film. Also, you lot live in a time when the kit to make your own films to a high standard is relatively affordable. I can make films more easily with today's standard digital still camera's movie function than I could with 8mm and super8 when I could get hold of it.

    Finally, I'd like to suggest a possible thread for the radio show: "Spoiler in the Title": This is fairly self-explanatory. I've only come up with three so far:

    There Will Be Blood
    Drag Me To Hell
    The Disappearance of Alice Creed

    Of course it's probably not a good idea to discuss how they qualify....

  • Comment number 33.

    I wonder where the line, if any, can be drawn when revealing the plot details of a movie. Its not just films with a twist, for instance telling someone that in film X "Everybody dies" is a spolier also, even though the film itself is not set up with a reveal in mind.

    I would agree with the posts of many here, that good films are more than a mere plot point and their enjoyment is far more than this. What concerns me is that by claiming a movie can be enjoyed even with total prior knowledge of its content, we dismiss the sheer thrill of the moment, the impact, that great cinema can achieve.

    Its sad that many will not be surprised by the first incarnation of the chestburster scene in Alien, due to sequels and mainstream acceptance of the imagery....
    Its plain wrong for such a scene to be ruined for someone unaware of the film, who without that prior knowledge is told by a "Fan".

  • Comment number 34.

    I would just like to come in on some of the points that have been raised about the death of the local cinema. I was lucky enough to have been born in a small town in Ireland where we had a small two-screen cinema (riddled with asbestos) ran by a couple who probably remember Hitler's rise to power. I am now 21 but this local fleapit was the main local gathering point for my particular social circle until well after we developed sufficient bumfluff to make our way to the local pubs. This cinema has since been replaced by a modern 6 screen multiplex.

    What really bothers me about the whole affair is that while the 6 screen is thriving, the old local cinema, even when showing mainstream blockbusters, was lucky to get a dozen people through it's doors. More recently, the exquisite, much beloved Kino arthouse cinema in Cork City has been shut down in spite of much consternation by a wide layer of it's frequenters

  • Comment number 35.

    (Sorry accidentally pressed the 'post' button before I ws done)

    The sad thing is the discrepancy between the ammount of people who were angered at the shutting of these places and the ammount of people who ACTUALLY went there. Why is that people will sign petitions, vent their spleens etc. but won't actually go to their local cinema?

    Anyway, DVDs and piracy aside, it is a sad sign that people are happy to go and see, for example, District 9 in a multiplex but wouldn't do the same in a small cinema where, often enough, the experience will be far better.

    Well I've had my rant, but I hope that more small local and arthouse cinemas won't go the way of the Kino. However, if you want to save these places, DON'T JUST SIGN A PETITION, BLOODY GO THERE!

  • Comment number 36.

    In my opinion once a film comes to DVD it's fair game for plot spoilers. Oh and...

    They're actually the same person with a split personality disorder.

  • Comment number 37.

    I can't believe I spelt hole as whole...apologies for that folks!

    Picking up on some of your points...I would say that there could be a resurgence of independant cinemas. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has become more and more jaded with my local Multiplexes. They don't show the movies I want to see, they charge the earth, they place too much importance on 3D.
    We don't actually have a local indie any more, it is now a music venue, but what we do have is a a couple of cinema screens in our local Arts Centre. They are thriving and showing the films that no one else will (they recently screened the refreshed version of Metroplis) as well as a few of the blockbusters after they have been in the multiplexes.
    In an age where as you say, we can watch movies on the hoof, a local indie showing out of the ordinary new movies, double bills and rescreens of old movies, would do well. This is where they can make their money. It's so great to see a movie on the big screen that was released before for you were of an age to see it that way. I have been to many screenings like this and they are usually sold out or almost full. Screening movies in extraordinary locations seems to be the current trend, what fun! I would have dearly loved to be at the screening of Close Encounters of the Third Kind at the base of Devils Tower, amazing was that!

    @StuartYates All I suggest is that you stop reading any kind of movie magazine, blog etc. It is impossible to never give away an ending of any film ever. Some of the movies that Dr K is talking about are ages old, It's insane to suggest that a film critic cannot refer to older movies when discussing a film. Personally I would never get annoyed if anyone spoilt an older movie that I have never seen by telling me the plot. It would probably make me want to see it more. As @FullMetalJacket said "A Good film doesn't need to rely on a suprising finale" It's about the film as a whole. Classic spolier movies always insinuate themselves into movie culture and it seems that nearly everyone knows the plot twist whether they have seen the movie or not @MiracleMile's mates are a rare exception (GEEZ! how could not have heard that one!)
    I think it is wholly acceptable for a film critic to talk about plots of movies that have been out for a number of years, and to try their best not to get too in depth with any new to cinema/dvd movies that have an extreme twist at the centre of their plot.
    I think that's fair enough wouldn't you say?

  • Comment number 38.

    Oh Dear Apologies to @FullMetalJackson for the name mistake above!

  • Comment number 39.

    Like murder there should be no statute of limitations for revealing movie endings. It's a bit annoying not to be able to discuss plot twists in the open but there will always be new generations of movie watchers coming along.

    Now this started because K&M were discussing whether they should "give away the ending" of "Inception", which is odd, because I thought Nolan left it open for different interpretations (although, of course, my interpretation was the one true one). Not only is it possible for Michael Caine to get it wrong, it's possible for the director to get it wrong as we discussed several inconsistencies here in the Kermode Uncut blog. Somebody told me that there is a clue in the soundtrack which seems to go against the general consensus but of course I can't discuss it here.

    I remember something similar when Mark claimed that the director comes down on a particular side at the ending of "Doubt". Somehow, I think in a movie called "Doubt" that is all about doubt, the last thing you want at the end is clarity.

    I mis-read Mr. Bogle's "The detective is the killer" as "The 'detective' is a killer" and came up with something completely different.

  • Comment number 40.

    @ dave d

    I didn't say that knowing about the sledge ruined my enjoyment of the film at all. I also didn't say that the whole film is about finding out about the sledge. It's a great film and one I would watch again. However I don't know how I would have felt about the film if I didn't know about the sledge revelation. Maybe I would have enjoyed it that little bit more, maybe not.

  • Comment number 41.

    I'll chime in on the same with regards to the cinema. Just a multiplex and DVD, and barely anyone to talk to about anything non-mainstream.

  • Comment number 42.

    Harry isn't dead!

    He's an alien clone, don't talk to him!

    Don't know these two.

  • Comment number 43.

    @Cal: I agree with the overall sentiment, but it just seems like there's a point where not revealing spoilers goes past the point of practical and into the realm of ridiculous. Alien is a pretty good example because that movie is like, what, thirty years old and we're still getting chastised for discussing it out in the open?

    For every film that gets spoiled for a person beforehand, just remind yourself that there will always be several hundred other excellent films that they will (or at least can) see without any early expectations. That's not an excuse to run around spoiling films for the fun of it but... you know. If it happens, it happens. Don't sweat the small stuff. :)

  • Comment number 44.

    Thanks for the reply, hope you are having a good weekend.

    Yeah I agree certainly that trying to enforce a blanket ban on all spoilers would be ridiculous. Thats one end of the spectrum, I feel enforcing the opposite end of the spectrum is equally ridiculous: "All spoilers are allowed".

    Im not saying you or anyone else is claiming that of course, Im simply pointing out that placing a time limit on when things are allowed has a similar effect.

    I suppose the context dictates when its ok to talk spoilers. On somewhere like it would seem appropriate to talk about the movies in full. Similar with all fansites. Maybe on here it is ok to an extent, as most people seem well clued in.

    I think care an attention should be given to it is all. Your right,I need to calm down though, as I sound like Im on a moral crusade haha, far from it.

  • Comment number 45.

    Dr K - you complain that there seems to be no deadline for spoiling the end of films, and yet you rant on about how there are certain films which are "classic" and everyone should have seen. My problem with you spoiling the end of films is that there is a whole generation teenagers just getting into good cinema who have not yet had the opportunity to view them.

    On a lighter note, I would like to share with you my family's favourite plot spoiler, which happened when my older sister was going out with her sixth form friends to see Gandhi, and complained when I (aged 9) said to her (aged 18) "Didn't he get assassinated?". She was extremely annoyed at me for spoiling the end of the film.

  • Comment number 46.

    @Mike The first is a certain film starring a certain Mr Welles and the second one is a 70s remake of a classic scifi movie with one of the most horrible endings ever!

  • Comment number 47.

    One of the most annoying things about today is that you will find the entire key plot points of a movie, whenever you look on Wikipedia about any film, even the newly released ones, where every single moment of a film is included, which may ruin it for a first time viewer and I clearly think that is wrong but there's really not much I can do anything about it but avoid them as much as possible.

  • Comment number 48.

    Tying in with the lack of decent independant cinemas, does anyone listen to the Filmspotting podcast with Adam Kempenaar and Matty Robinson?
    They had Ed Burns guesting on last week and he was talking about the release of his new movie "Nice Guy Johnny" that he wrote, directed and starred in. Due to lack of ditribution and suitable cinemas it was decided to release it to On Demand cable channels, itunes and dvd in the hope that it will reach a wider market. Not a bad idea and a valid step for indie movie makers to take to ensure their movies get seen.

  • Comment number 49.

    if there is one sentence you can say that ruins a film, it's probably not a very good film anyway

  • Comment number 50.

    How about posters and video boxes that spoil give away plot points?

    The dvd cover for the Cohen Brother's 1994 film, 'The Hudsucker Proxy' (**SPOILER ALERT, IF YOU HAVNT SEEN IT**) contains a picture of Tim Robbins holding a gigantic hoola-hoop towards camera, ruining the dramatically ironic idiot/genius reveal of Norville Barnes swinging a hoop on his hips in front of a baffled boardroom! For the first half of the film he’s had us staring at a piece of paper with a circle drawn on it on it “Now let me ask you a question: Would an imbecile come up with this?”.

    Thank god I saw it on telly. The fact that one cannot avoid but look at the box of a film we’re thinking of buying/watching, and in our ignorance not help but ruin a very nice little plot twist that would have served us some enjoyment, is as ridiculous as it gets.

    What bloody idiot came up with that box?

  • Comment number 51.

    I wouldn't say that fear of being buried alive is 'irrational'. Given that this is something which would almost certainly lead to death and definitely to extreme distress it seems entirely rational to fear it. I remember a vet once saying that it was reasonable to fear spiders as in most countries of the world their bite may well hurt or kill you and therefore it was sensible to give them all a wide berth. It's only when a fear persists and debilitates in the face of unlikely odds that it becomes irrational. Avoid a phobia but keep the fear, good Doctor - without it, surely horror movies would be largely redundant.

  • Comment number 52.

    I remember watching Helena Bonham Carter in Lady Jane, where knowing what happens in the end improved the film because it made me sympathetic to the character. Sometimes filmakers try to too clever by leaving the big reveal until the end when watching would be much more satisfying if the audience is allowed to know what is going on.

  • Comment number 53.

    Personally I don't think you should ever give the plot away, there are still a multitude of films that I want to get round to seeing and I watch at least fifteen to twenty a week on average. And I totally respect the fact that not everyone can get around to every film within particular timescales. Therefore if someone asks me my opinion on a film they haven't seen I've 'honed my craft'in as much as I avoid giving the game away but just say enough to' wet the apettite' so to speak.:-)

    1.Guess what he really didn't want to be saved.

    2. After all said and done he didn't give a damn.

    3. That boat just wasn't big enough.

    4. He really was the richest man in Town.

    5.Who'd have thought it - An Architect?

    Oh and by the way The Titanic sink at the end.........;-)

  • Comment number 54.

    The message doesn't say "Save me" it says "Save yourselves...from hell"

  • Comment number 55.

    Probably echoing quite a lot of the discussion here, there has to be a reasonable expectation that any "twist" ending is going to be public domain knowledge eventually. If people want to discuss any medium, be a book, television show or film, you have to be able to discuss the subject at length, including an ending.

    The way I see it, it's a question of choice. Informed viewers/readers should be able to discuss these things so long as one takes reasonable steps to shield those who aren't informed yet, either through appropriate warnings (i.e. spoiler alerts) or by obfuscating the discussion through special markup e.g. using a font with white text on a white background, so that you can't easily see the text inadvertently.

    (see TV Tropes for further musings on this topic).

    Oh, and his wife's decapitated head is in the box...

  • Comment number 56.

    "I think myself that if the enjoyment of a film collapses after you know the plot twist, it probably wasn't that good of a film to begin with... Good films aren't just plot points, they're whole experiences."


    I would agree with this. However, I also hold it to be true that, one of the joys of watching a film for the first time is being allowed to discover the story for yourself, not knowing what is going to happen and being suprised by the drama, as it unfolds. To rob someone of that is to do them a significant diservice.

  • Comment number 57.

    "For example, I have never seen Don't Look Now, as I don't see the point in watching it because you (Mark) have given away the ending, and various pivotal scenes throughout the movie." #19

    If your mind is made up then so be it; however Nicolas Roeg was noted for being a great stylist; the narrative in his films was secondary. If you've seen his Man That Fell To Earth or Walkabout you'll understand what I'm trying to say. With some films it not the story that's the most interesting but the way it's being told; more so with Roeg than most other directors.

    Don't Look Now is also a key British film of the 1970s (First released on a double bill with The Wicker Man too; those were the days.) and it's the way of the world that films like DLN, that really hit a chord get referenced a lot; in conversation, writing and popular culture; have homages paid (there was one towards the end of Casino Royale) etc.

    I do appreciate where your coming from; with many films I've also not wanted to know anything about the ending before viewing it, that way I can enjoy the story pulling me in and engrossing me; with some films like 6th Sense half the the fun is seeing if you can guess what the plot twists will be.

    With other movies it's less important (Bond / McClane / Bourne - he wins.) With the Godfather & Jaws I'd already read the books first; but both films really impressed me; and Jaws the movie was much, much better than the book.

    Knowing the ending of Don't Look Now shouldn't spoil your appreciation of it too much, appreciate it for it's styling, cutting, cinematography etc; I saw it a couple of times when first released, and have watched it several times since on TV.

  • Comment number 58.

    Like the majority of the posters here, we all would like to see a movie with "fresh" eyes, without any preconceptions. However, in today's instant information world, there is a plethora of information available about EVERY movie ever seen by eager fans who want to share their experience online.

    While we would like to keep ourselves pure for the first time viewing experience, it doesn't always work that way. I love the Kermode and Mayo podcast and know that oftentimes, I won't get to see a movie they review for many months to come.

    However, it is nice to be able to provide a comment or two on a movie occasionally that I have had the great fortune to see before the majority of people (doesn't happen very often).

    I've become used to plot spoilers and try not to let them interfere with my enjoyment of a movie. You just have to let it be.

    I'm thrilled and delighted to have the good Dr read from one of my posts. A great honour.

    As for spoilers? They are the number of steps to the beach.

  • Comment number 59.

    I can only state my own personal preference and that would be ‘please don’t reveal’. I love film in all its entirety but grew increasingly detached from ‘Hollywood’ a long time ago and have quietly but pleasantly enjoyed cinema from Asia, Americas and Europe and all of them viewed with little or no commentary from anyone. This has enabled me to be shocked, gobsmacked and sometimes heartbroken as I have often little knowledge of the narrative before I choose to watch them. I would advise anyone to dip their toes into the ‘foreign’ cinema world as the western fair is very often poor copies of excellent material. A further point someone had put regarding reading books, I to would if I could read a book first before a movie if this is possible as often the Directors vision is not the story teller’s interpretation, not to say the Director can’t put their own stamp on a film, but in most cases they get it horribly wrong. So no spoilers from me…

  • Comment number 60.

    Mark, I'm sure you're looking forward to the day when you can introduce your children to such films as Pan's Labyrinth, Local Hero, It's a Wonderful Life, Brazil, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Silent Running, and of course, The Exorcist. So how would you like it if they were incapable of becoming emotionally invested in said films because people like you blabbed about their endings? I can just imagine the look of disappointment when they look into your eyes and say, "Well I knew Father Karras was going to do that."

    Still want that moritorium?

  • Comment number 61.

    i totally agree with your ten year rule for spoilers lol. although personally speaking i dont mind spoilers at all. i used to hate people telling me the end of movies, till the night i sat down with my mum to watch "jeepers creepers". now before people start hitting me both me and my mum were on the edge of our seats the whole way through. in fact in my head i was already in the shop buying the dvd lol. about 10 mins from the end my dog at the time decided he wanted to go out for a walk (great timing lol). we paused the movie and my mum took the dog out (it felt like forever as i had to know what happens to these characters). when she got back we got comfy and un-paused the movie. i felt my heart slowly sink. i couldnt believe what i was seeing. as the camera panned round to reveal the corpse of the main character, i slowly turn to my mum who was also looking at me. we took a moments pause then both burst into a huge fit of giggles. we had just witnessed what looked like a cardboard cut out of the main character trying to be passed as a dead body. was the actor out to lunch that day, i mean wtf lol. so after that disappointment i decided before i watch any movie i either look up spoilers or skip to the end of the dvd. its safer that way lol.

  • Comment number 62.

    Louis Cypher is the Devil.

    The detective is the killer.
    Angel Heart

  • Comment number 63.

    He's a ghost! (That's more than ten years old isn't it?)

  • Comment number 64.

    @ 60. Redfield

    So you'd advocate handing all our children over to the Amish to raise to protect the little blighters from anything that might spoil their enjoyment of movies that were made before they were born? Interesting. I'm not saying it's a bad idea, mind.

  • Comment number 65.

    I had a scream out loud moment regarding plot spoilers recently but it wasn't a movie on this occasion. Like the good doctor my tv viewing is minimal to none, however one of my guilty addictions is Dexter which is airing season 4 in the UK currently and I must say is thoroughly gripping and dangerously addictive.

    It was to my absolute horror that one of our state side friends who had enjoyed the privilege of viewing the show far earlier than us catching up in the UK felt it necessary to post on Facebook their shock and horror of the series finale (in thorough and descriptive detail!).

    Now this to me is a bang out of order and I would like to use this blog as an opportunity to say to our overseas friends ZIP IT!!!

    I'm loving this game thats started on this blog by the way, I wanna have a go!

    They burn him alive in a weird cult ceremony

  • Comment number 66.

    I'm constantly amazed at how many classic movies are allowed to completely spoil plotlines in episodes of the Simpsons... so many Simpsons episodes simply ruined by this thoughtless practice!

  • Comment number 67.

    although i do agree there should be a moratorium on spoilers, say 15 years, on a whole im quite militant about spoilers

    apart from the premise nothng else about the plot should be given away

    ive pretty much given up reading phillip french's reviews because he just gives away the whole film

    ive noticed that giving away spoilers is particularly prevelant with older reviewers. why is this? was that the tradition, summarising the plot of the film? where did it come from?

    as for burried, it slightly underwhelmed, it wasn't claustrophobic enough for me. ive an irrational fear of being burried alive but this didn't scare me at all. ryan reynolds was fine, he carried the film quite well. it was shot quite creatively considering it's confines. as a filmaking exercise it was sufficiently successful, but it terms of tension building, it really it didn't get me under my skin. I thought that section in Kill Bill was far more successful. As was the Vanishing and I vaguely remember being pretty terrified by some Twilight Zone episode that had a similar premise.

    What Burried was far more successful at, was evoking the exhasperation of being put on hold and phone etiquette in general

  • Comment number 68.

    it's obvious. 2 years on dvd and then all bets are off.

  • Comment number 69.

    @66: your post reminded I just had another thought re: spoilers. Parody films (and their lesser modern equivalents like "scary movie") acted as "spoilers" for the original films they mock. I never saw the original James Whale Frankenstein until a few years ago, yet my primary reaction to it was mirth, as I repeatedly recognised the references from "Young Frankenstein".

    In fact, taking this point further, I recall my enjoyment of "The Exorcist" the first time I saw it was tempered by childhood memories of Repossessed, the Leslie Nielsen vehicle ("Father Mayii" "Bye Fruu Fruu!" etc,etc.) Has Dr. K ever mentioned this forgotten film?

  • Comment number 70.

    There's no such thing as a story being "too old to be spoiled". I went to see Hamlet at the Cricuble on Saturday. There was a huge, audible gasp from the audience when (spoiler!) Gertrude drinks from the poisoned cup in Act 5. Yep, after 400 years there are still people who don't know how the most famous play in history ends.

    I agree that a truly brilliant film (or play, or novel) won't be ruined by revealing a spoiler, but the experience of the person seeing it for the first time won't be *whole* if you've spoiled it for them. It might be 95% of what it could have been, and that 95% could still be brilliant, but it's still 5% less than it was when *you* experienced it (assuming you weren't spoiled in the first place).

    How often have you enthused about a film and told people "don't read too much about it, just go and see it before you hear too much"? I know I have, many times. And there have been times in the cinema when I've realised, halfway through a movie, that I'm watching an absolute masterpiece, and I've savoured every moment of it, knowing that it would be the one and only time it would be utterly fresh and original to me (and this makes me loathe people who talk or throw popcorn or browse on their mobiles even more - they are ruining my one-and-only experience.)

    And I still think back to some of the best plot twists I've ever seen. Like the slow drip, drip, drip of realisation at the end of The Usual Suspects that (spoiler!) you've been fed a web of lies by Soze all along. Now, I can watch that movie over and over because it's a great movie, I don't need to be surprised again. But I treasure the first time I watched it and *was* surprised, and I would feel like an absolute rotter if I robbed someone else of that experience, out of a lazy assumption that everyone knows how the movie goes.

  • Comment number 71.

    See my post #7 SurfingSharka - you're right and I hang my head in shame.

  • Comment number 72.

    I fall on the time is irrelevant side of things. Generally i simply ask two questions before launching:

    * Have you ever seen it?
    * Are you ever likely to watch it?

    If the answer is No then its fair game.

  • Comment number 73.


    Well, yes, except we are talking about internet blogging and radio broadcasting here so the answer (if you can hear it) is unlikely to be a unanimous "No"

  • Comment number 74.

    Hi from Bulgaria!
    In the last couple of days I've watched the whole archive of Kermode Uncut. And of course, I fell in love with... let's say with film criticism.
    Back to the question... I don't usually read anything about a movie I'm going to see, because I give myself the privilege of enjoying it without someone Else's opinion. So spoilers of any kind are not gonna spoil my experience of the movie I watch.
    I'm afraid this might change now, as I got addicted to Dr. Kermode's blog...

  • Comment number 75.

    How does it work if the film's made 20 years later and it has the same plot device......?

  • Comment number 76.

    #66: Agreed. I've been an avid Simpsons watcher for at least twelve years, but it was only about five years ago that I saw Star Wars and it was slightly ruined by the fact that I knew the various references from the Simpsons. On the other hand, having seen Star Wars, that then made Blue Harvest (the Family Guy parody) a lot better from my point of view, because it felt like being 'in the club' and some of the slightly more obscure things were consequently funnier. Likewise a good parody can enhance the original film (see the Simpsons' opening gag with Bart and the penny jar).

  • Comment number 77.

    Will someone just tell me what happens in Don't Look Now?

  • Comment number 78.

    Luke McGrath asked:
    "Will someone just tell me what happens in Don't Look Now?"

    The beginning of the movie is as shocking as the ending, and I'm not going to give away the beginning either, as that would be just as much of a spoiler for someone who hasn't seen it. All I'll say is that it's one of those movies where you're not sure whether the protagonist is going nuts or sincerely perceiving ghostly phenomenon. The beginning sets up that he has good grounds for experiencing either. The ending is more horrible and shocking than either of the previous scenarios. It's one of those movies, like the original Wicker Man, which slowly and quietly sets you on edge (and, like the original Wicker Man, might be considered slow paced and dull by some) until your nerves are completely frayed at the end.

    Watch it. That's all. Just watch it.

  • Comment number 79.

    Don't Look Now Spoiler Alert!

    The fleeting images of the little girl in red that Donald Sutherlands character keeps on seeing is not actually the ghost of his deceased daughter and many of the other signs that are unfolded throughout the film are actually omens of his own death.
    In a very creepy scene at the end of the film he corners the "child" in red and approaches her. The figure turns around and reveals a horrible haggard face of an escaped maniac thats been murdering people in the streets of Venice. The killer slits Donald Sutherlands throat killing him.

    You can see the final scene for yourself.

    If you haven't seen this movie I would highly recommend it!!!

  • Comment number 80.

    One should never reveal the plot twists of a film. Ever.

    Mark is a very entertaining and incisive reviewer and due, I feel, to his gift of the gab and the need to fill air time he will talk about the film he's reviewing in a lot of detail, giving away plot points aplenty.

    For a while now I've taken to avoiding listening to certain Mark and Simon podcasts in which films that I'm interested in seeing will be reviewed. For example, I avoided Mark's' Scott Pilgrim' and 'Enter The Void' reviews until after I had seen the films.

    For a long time now I've avoided all hype for any film I'm interested in. Currently 'Paul' is on my keep-clear-of list. I want to see it with as little prior knowledge as possible. Not easy...

    In this age of mass-communication it is harder to not know about a film before seeing it. But it is possible to avoid what you can by making choices such as avoiding film magazines, film programmes – radio and telly – and film blogs until you've seen a particular movie.

    Many of my all time favourite films are those that I knew next to nothing about before seeing them. Films such as 'Dead Man's Shoes', 'Get Carter' and 'Once Upon A Time In The West' blew me away when I saw them – they appeared to come out of nowhere. All of them go on interesting journeys and I'm so so glad I knew nothing about what those journeys were before I saw them. I hope others can share those experiences.

    Giving away plot points and twists is at best mischievous and worst arrogant. A film reviewer of Mark Kermode's skill and insight should know this and treat such vital elements with the reverence and respect that I, for some reason, feel is befitting to him.

  • Comment number 81.

    I think it is unacceptable to ruin the endings of films for the following obvious reason: you are potentially ruining films for the next generation who have yet to experience them. For instance, I took great pains to ensure my six year old son did not know the twist at the end of The Empire Strikes Back before I showed him the film. Subsequently, he experienced the same shock and amazement that I experienced when I first viewed the film as a child.

    On a related note, I think it is equally unacceptable for DVD covers to ruins films. In fact, when I tried to show Planet of the Apes to a friend who had never seen it, I made sure the cover sleeve was removed and that he didn't see the disk as I put it in the DVD player, as that also had a spoiler image of the ending on it. However, despite the above precautions, my friend then saw the DVD menu which had the same image as displayed on the disk and the cover, so my precautions were in vain.

    I think the only circumstance in which it is acceptable to ruin films is if clear spoiler warnings are given first.

  • Comment number 82.

    A certain amount of twists will inevitably be given away. What I do have a big problem with and see often, is where a TV guide actually gives away a twist as part of the plot synopsis.

  • Comment number 83.

    When the movie Troy was released a few years ago, I went to see it with some friends in Germany. It is commonplace to have an interval during long films there. My friends and I were chatting when I accidentally spoiled the movie for Lisa by telling her that Achilles gets shot in the heel and dies. Silly me, I didn't realise that I still had to keep that fact secret after thousands of years! Needless to say, I didn't tell her that the giant horse was actually full of soldiers.

  • Comment number 84.

    ALl these people listing spoilers are hilarious... except for the fact I don't know which films you're talking about! Now I'll sit down to a cinematic classic and, as the end credits roll, realise that actually I deep down knew the twist, and it had been stored by my subconcious to get revenge on my concious self for being the favourite.

    Congratulations chaps. You've fueled the war taking place in my all ready fragile psyche...

  • Comment number 85.

    Andre picks up the tab

  • Comment number 86.

    I accidentally spoiled the movie for Lisa by telling her that Achilles gets shot in the heel and dies. Silly me, I didn't realise that I still had to keep that fact secret after thousands of years! Needless to say, I didn't tell her that the giant horse was actually full of soldiers.


  • Comment number 87.

    John Hurt dies surprisingly early from a gastro-intestinal complication

    The film ends abruptly because the Police storm the beach and arrest the actors for murder

  • Comment number 88.

    Surely the point at which it becomes acceptable to reveal a plot spoiler is "as soon as you've watched it." Especially when it's poor stuff like Sixth Sense, where the twist only works because the film ignores its own rules.

  • Comment number 89.

    Dr K

    A "plot spoiler" is called a "plot spoiler" for a reason. I'm a bit disappointed that you seem to think that plot spoilers have a shelf life. They don't.

  • Comment number 90.

    Tom Brazelton of sells a T-shirt called Spoilers (and another called Spoilers 2) which is a list of some of the best examples of these.
    Whenever I wear it I get people stopping me and playing 'spot the movie'!

  • Comment number 91.

    just gonna get round to watching 'rocky balboa' and someone mentioned he dies.. i dont know if this is true but thanks a lot!
    talking of rocky, heres all 5 films in 5 seconds - still makes me laugh after umpteen viewings..

  • Comment number 92.

    I always remember when Sean Hughes was covering Jonathan Ross's show a few years ago and gave away the twist in Sixth Sense live on radio! The fils had just been released and I was about to see it, so was a bit gutted - but at the same time thought it was funny! To be fair it actually made the film more interesting knowing the end and did open up quite a few plot holes too...

  • Comment number 93.

    To answer the original question: Plot spoilers, or at least discussions that hint at spoilers, should be immediately OK after release on a BLOG site - a blog is primarily for discussing films that people should have already seen (if they want to discuss them). The review program on 5 Live is the reference for people who have not seen a film yet - and one of the things I use to decide (provided its Kermode and not the other threesome - no offense guys). I can't think of anything more irritating than a film blog that was banned from discussing the details of films because nosey b***ards want to tell you how to run your site. It's like trying to have a conversation with someone about a film both of you love then someone butting in to stop you making a point because THEY HAVEN'T SEEN IT YET! I mean, he tells you what films he's talking about in the video titles - so don't hit the link. I think people secretly want to have it spoiled for them so they can be angry and indignant about something (because most mainstream multiplex films leave little else to be really passionate about). Eat, Pray, Love, Complain.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.