True Violence

I’ll never trust movie violence again. From the first chapter of Collin’s book Violence:

One reason that real violence looks so ugly is because we have been exposed to so much mythical violence. … Contemporary film style … may give many people the sense that entertainment violence is, if anything, too realistic. Nothing could be farther from the truth. … [They] miss the most important dynamics of violence: that it starts from confrontational tension and fear, that most of the time it is bluster, and that the circumstances that allow this tension to be over­ come lead to violence that is more ugly than entertaining. …

A particularly silly myth is that fights are contagious. This is a staple of old film comedies and melodramas. One person punches another in a crowded bar … and in the next frames everyone is hitting everyone around them. This fighting of all against all, I am quite certain, has never occurred as a serious matter in real life. …

A second myth is that fights are long. In Hollywood films … fist fights as well as gunfights go on for many minutes. Fighters are resilient, taking many blows and coming back to dish them out; crashing over tables, knocking down shelves of bottles, bouncing off walls, falling over balconies and down stairs and hillsides, in and out of cars and other speeding vehicles. Shooting involves much resolute stalking, running from cover to cover, sometimes daringly outflanking the opponent, but never retreating; on the other side, the evil-doers keep coming back, sneakily and warily if not by sheer pugnacity and ferociousness. …

Whereas most film and stage dramas compress real time to gloss over the dull and routine moments of ordinary life, they expand fighting time by many times over. … In reality, most serious fights on the individual or small-group level are extremely short. If we cut out the preliminaries and the aftermath, with their insults, noise, and gesturing, and look only at the violence, it is often remarkably brief. The actual gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, in 1881 took less than thirty seconds; the 1957 movie version took seven minutes. Crimes involving the use of guns almost never take the form of gunfights between sides both armed and firing at each other. The vast majority of murders and assaults with deadly weapons consist of one or more armed persons briefly attacking an unarmed person. Since the latter half of the twentieth century, gang fights, drug turf battles, or reputational confrontations, … are usually not gun-battles, but very brief episodes, usually with only one side firing. Fist fights are also generally brief. Many bar-room brawls and street fights are one-punch affairs. The lore of such fighting is that whoever gets in the first punch generally wins. …

Children pick their occasions for such scuffles, generally when parents or caretakers are nearby, so that if the fight escalates, they can call for help and end the fight … Similarly, fights that break out in schools commonly occur in the presence of a teacher, or where a teacher will likely come quickly to break it up; in prisons, most fights occur in the presence of guards. …  It is extremely rare that killers, robbers, or fighters are in a laughing good humor, or even display sardonic wit. …

In tribal societies, battles are short, mostly skirmishes among a few hundred men or less, intermittently for a few hours, usually ending when a single victim is killed or seriously wounded. Without social organization to keep soldiers together in ranks, they dart back and forth across a skirmish line, a few men at a time, running away if they are in enemy terrain for more than a few seconds. …

More complex social organization in ancient Greece, Rome, and China brought larger numbers (sometimes on the order of tens of thousands) and more disciplined troops into battle and could keep them in combat as long as a day. One day was also the normal length of battles in medieval Europe. By the time of the Napoleonic wars, armies were sometimes on the order of hundreds of thousands of men, and battles lasted as long as three days. In the world wars of the twentieth century, battles were sustained as long as six months or more.

How long will it take before many movies present violence realistically?  Will that be before or after they present sex realistically?

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  • spriteless

    When they look to do something realistic instead of hamming it up for entertainment. The cartoon movie Wizards had comparatively realistic fights, and one theme was terror inherent in violence. That makes it… what, the 70s? Whenever Bakshi had enough power to make a movie he liked from scratch.

    The porn you can pay to download from a site owned by a couple with a digital camera are real. So as soon as distribution became cheap enough that movies could offer ‘real’ as a special niche in porn.

    Alternately, as young people have easy access to porn, their idea of normal sex is inspired by the unrealistic, thus they replace old reality with the movies reality, making movies realistic. But how is anyone supposed to enjoy a pose chosen for the camera? >_<

  • http://t-a-w.blogspot.com/ Tomasz Wegrzanowski

    Are there any movies at all with realistic violence, or sex, or anything else for that matter? I guess it would be really boring.

    • John

      Unforgiven was pretty accurate. And commented on the unrealism of literary depictions. Also: the Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

    • George

      Try Rashomon? A bandit gives an account of a sword fight that he won. A peasant who secretly witnessed the fight paints a very different picture.

  • Doug S.

    The opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, showing the D-day assault on Normandy, was praised for its realism… I could barely stand to watch it.

    • http://lesswrong.com/ CannibalSmith
  • Mat

    Will there ever be an incentive for movies to portray either realistically? Is that even desirable for us? Why would I pay $10 to experience emotional pain?

    I’m perfectly satisfied with the eye candy we get on screen right now.

  • Mike Rappaport

    The violence in Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven always struck me as realistic. It seems to largely conform to this article’s discussion (with the possible exception of the sadism of the Little Bill (Gene Hackman) character. Of course, the movie was intended to be a realistic western.

    • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

      This is one of my favorite movies, but I’ll admit the final gun battle is complete fantasy.

  • Dain

    The Pusher trilogy, a series of petty gangster films out of Denmark (of all places) is some dismally realistic stuff.

  • Vladimir

    My red flag went up when I read this:

    In tribal societies, battles are short, mostly skirmishes among a few hundred men or less, intermittently for a few hours, usually ending when a single victim is killed or seriously wounded.

    If this is so, then how come that the percentage of men in hunter-gatherer societies that die in violent conflicts tends to be well into the double digits? (I don’t think this finding is controversial at all any more.) Primitive war is typically total war of extermination, not the gentle and ritualized affair described above.

    Another claim that I find wildly implausible is that “[c]hildren pick their occasions for such scuffles, generally when parents or caretakers are nearby, so that if the fight escalates, they can call for help and end the fight.” This is contrary to everything I’ve ever seen. (The author obviously never got beaten up as a kid.) Fights withing sight of parents or caretakers happen only when kids are overcome with rage to the point where they can’t control themselves even under direct adult supervision, not because they consciously intend to have the fight broken up. I don’t think it’s much different with prisoners either.

    That said, the excerpt presents some good points. Violence typically portrayed in movies has no resemblance at all to what happens in real life. In a typical movie brawl, actors exchange numerous blows each of which would in reality result in instant incapacitation and possibly long-term or even permanent physical trauma or disability. Moreover, the first successful punch indeed wins the fight in most cases, let alone a hit with a firm blunt object.

    Generally, I’d say that people tend to seriously underestimate how easy it is to seriously injure or even kill someone by beating him up, and they also somewhat underestimate how hard it is to reliably kill someone with a single shot from a firearm (except from point blank). I think movie violence is often designed so as to provide a plausible story to an audience suffering from these biases.

    • http://dhyb.blogspot.com Andy Wood

      My red flag went up when I read this:

      In tribal societies, battles are short, mostly skirmishes among a few hundred men or less, intermittently for a few hours, usually ending when a single victim is killed or seriously wounded.

      If this is so, then how come that the percentage of men in hunter-gatherer societies that die in violent conflicts tends to be well into the double digits? (I don’t think this finding is controversial at all any more.)

      The two statements do not contradict each other, since they say nothing about the number of skirmishes a typical man engages in, nor about the distribution of deaths per skirmish.

      With a power low distribution you can quite easily have most skirmishes ending with few casualties but most deaths occurring in a small number of extremely bloody battles. Consider the distribution proportional to (n+1)^(-2), for instance. 61% of skirmishes end with no deaths, 15% end with one death, but the mean number of deaths per skirmish is infinite.

      If the probability of dying in a skirmish is 1%, but you fight in 30 in your lifetime, you have a 26% chance of dying in battle. (I think Matt Ridley quotes a figure of 25% in the Red Queen.)

      • Eric Johnson

        From my memory of Chagnon’s “Yanomamo” and my fading memory of Keely’s “War before civilization” I think you are mostly right. The passage flagged by Vladimir may be largely correct, literally speaking, although I would say it really gives the wrong impression, especially considering that Rousseau’s serene native is such a successful meme.

        The non-massacre violence is a little deceiving, because it’s not purely what it seems to be – to a significant extent it’s part of a broader system of honest signaling about military strength, dedication to vengeance, and general hardness of character. In other words, if you start showing weakness people will know your village can be subjected massacre with significant impunity. When you and all your relatives and allies relentlessly pursue vandetta in response to any offense (such as a singleton killing), ignoring costs, you create a robust deterrent to atrocities large and small. Thus it is shameful not to kill in retribution, but this is not really a cycle of violence, at least not purely; at a deeper level it’s more a fairly steady stream of signaling.

      • http://www.thefaithheuristic.com Justin Martyr

        Keeley makes a similar point about frequent sorties in War Before Civilization (I like Constant Battles better, but it is not as historically important). Keeley also points out that primitive societies do have massacres. He describes a Maori tactic in which warriors infiltrate the enemy at night, set fire to the huts, and kill the males who leave.

    • http://www.abs-usa.com Floccina

      Before antibiotics a small cut could kill a person.

  • mitchell porter

    Harlan Ellison on true violence. (It’s in section 2.)

  • http://robertwiblin.wordpress.com Robert Wiblin

    Why would you expect them to ever present those things realistically?

    I second the near unwatchability of the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan.

  • milieu

    One area where large scale violence still seems to persist in modern western society might be after a soccer game in Europe. Might be easier to observe how it starts up and continues.

    Also, found the coincidence of this post being on the birth anniversary of Gandhi to be amusing.

    • Noumenon

      There’s a chapter on soccer hooligans and how the violence gets started in the book.

  • Douglas Knight

    The last quoted paragraph struck me, about how modern army warfare is unnatural. It reminded me of some scenes in 19C novels about people not understanding battle (Red Badge of Courage, War and Peace, both based on Stendhal, I think).

  • http://rhollerith.com/ Richard Hollerith

    A journalist befriended violent British soccer fans (“football supporters” in British English) and wrote a book about them: Among the Thugs: The Experience, and the Seduction, of Crowd Violence.

    The basic tactic described in the book is to leave the stadium as a group, evade the police cordon designed to funnel you back to your hotel, knock down a fan of the other team and kick him while he is down.

  • http://pdf23ds.net pdf23ds

    Something not mentioned in the article (at least in your excerpt) is the unrealism of fistfights, in that most, if they last more than one blow, end up in a grappling match. It seems like there’s almost never any grappling on the big screen, whereas in more realistic fights, such as in UFC, grappling is the majority of the match.

    I have to wonder whether martial arts experts in no-holds-barred fights have the same tendency. It seems like most martial arts styles’ training doesn’t at all emphasize grappling (with several exceptions), which means either that the training is ineffective in real-world fights, or that experts are much better at avoiding grappling situations.

    • Cyan

      In the most recent UFC, the main fights did not feature grappling. In the three or four fights I watched, only one of the competitors wanted to take the fight to the ground, and his opponent used the sprawl effectively to avoid takedown attempts. UFC no longer gives a good account of how real fights occur (if it ever did). Those fighters are so highly trained for those particular rules of engagement that what occurs between them bears little relationship to non-ritualized violence.

      • Cyan

        Just for clarification, the above comment is addressed entirely to “in more realistic fights, such as in UFC, grappling is the majority of the match”. I just wanted to say that (i) UFC isn’t particularly true to non-sport violent encounters, and (ii) there’s a Pareto-optimal curve for striking vs. grappling such that not all matches feature extensive grappling. I agree with the rest of pdf23s’s comment.

      • http://pdf23ds.net pdf23ds

        Huh. I’ve only seen like two or three UFC fights, all linked to on the internet, and all featured grappling. Maybe those weren’t representative.

      • Cyan

        Oh, lots of fights still have extensive grappling — for instance, the undercard fights that night did. But it’s no longer rare for competitors to choose to remain standing.

    • Robert Koslover

      I’m not an expert on this, but I do have some minor experience in the martial arts and, in my youth, in being in actual fights. When fighting a larger, stronger opponent (I’m small so for me, this was generally the case), it is important to avoid grappling. A well-trained smaller person can defeat a larger person by means of multiple, rapid, well-directed strikes, and by being very, very careful to avoid being tackled. Also, a well-trained (or sufficiently determined) fighter can actually withstand numerous strikes, especially if those strikes are either not well delivered or are partly dodged or blocked. In fights among children, poorly-executed strikes are the rule, rather than the exception. This is a good thing, since otherwise there would be, quite literally, far more schoolchildren killed or maimed in fights. To actually win a fist fight, a combination of skill, determination, and a willingness to endure pain but keep fighting are all advantages. Here’s a rule about when to run: Never fight anyone whose arms are longer than your legs, or whose biceps are wider than your thighs. Likewise, humans generally lose in unarmed fights with medium and large-sized bears, although one can indeed defeat the occasional small black bear. And never, ever, fight with a gorilla or even a moderate-sized chimp. They are amazingly strong, mean, and can literally tear you to pieces.

      • Doug S.

        The first rule of fighting:

        Grab a weapon.

  • http://www.nancybuttons.com Nancy Lebovitz

    I suspect the violence in Slumdog Millionaire is realistic– it’s fast, it’s not ornamental, and it’s never a fair fight.

    There’s an essay by David Drake (I think it’s “It’s a Lot Like War (Introduction)” in Men Hunting Things about the extent to which industrial war is unlike what people are evolved to endure. It’s not just the duration (longer days, and no seasonal limit to the number of days), it’s the noise and the randomness. The punchline is that war is like hunting, with humans as prey.

    The Ellison essay was interesting (anyone else notice that the first section is also about violence?), but there’s also barfights– some people do those for the fun(?) (compulsion?) of it.

  • http://michaelkenny.blogspot.com Mike Kenny

    there was a recent gang fight among two chicago gangs caught on video–can’t find it at the moment, but it was on youtube–and it conforms to this description of fighting. one person was killed.

    i’ve also heard chimps tend to attack when they have something like 5 to 1 numerical superiority, idea being the chimps can grab an opponent males four limbs to neutralize him and then another chimp can kill the neutralized chimp.

    • Cyan

      Chimps are actually pretty bad at killing each other outright, at least compared to humans. Usually they just beat the hell out of their captive (especially the genitals), who then succumbs to injury and weakness and dies over the course of days. They could easily strangle captives if the idea ever occurred to them, but it doesn’t seem to have so far.

      • Eric Johnson

        I’ve heard the same, about their practices. (I’ve read Wrangham’s “Demonic males,” a great book.) But it’s hard to believe they couldn’t kill if they wanted to. It seems possible that leaving the victim alive could harm the enemy group further by causing near-futile nursing. The latter could also create social dissension between 1st-degree relatives of the victim and the rest of the group, who are less sympathetic. It’s also possible that peri-lethal attack could function as torture which terrifies other members of the enemy group. This could drive them to avoid feeding alone – which will reduce their foraging efficiency, cuts their energy profits, and may thus prevent breeding. That would benefit the attackers and their offspring, who can encroach on their enemy’s territory as the enemy population dwindles.

        It’s the need to often feed alone, for optimal foraging efficiency, which allows effective violence by hostile gangs, which performing incursions across territorial lines for that specific purpose. Chimps are not interested in pitched battles or fair fights; they are interested in killing at 4:1 or so, which allows them to kill risk-free.

      • http://michaelkenny.blogspot.com Mike Kenny

        Those are fascinating points. I’m reminded of what I’ve read by one military theorist or another, Liddell Hart or JFC Fuller or both, arguing that it’s better to gas the enemy in a nonlethal manner and cause him to be in pain and recover in the rear area where he drains resources and spreads horror stories.

        Another odd possibility–if a male chimp’s genitals are damaged and he recovers, he could still possibly be a competitor for alpha male status, but he would be non-procreative. If he becomes the top male, he would essentially monopolize a sizable amount of female affection without impregnating them, thus reducing the birth rate of his group, to the benefit of whatever group damaged his genitals. I would also imagine the bolder males are more likely to have their genitals damaged due to fights because, well, they’re bold. Even if they aren’t alphas, they can cause trouble for alphas. I don’t know how realistic this is.

      • http://rhollerith.com/ Richard Hollerith

        Will a group of male chimps ever carry off or take possession of the females of a group of males they have vanquished?

      • http://michaelkenny.blogspot.com Mike Kenny

        Will a group of male chimps ever carry off or take possession of the females of a group of males they have vanquished?

        According to this book chimps do try to kill all the males of a rival group and bring the females into their group (p31 at the bottom).

  • curious

    beef one:

    Contemporary film style … may give many people the sense that entertainment violence is, if anything, too realistic.

    has anyone ever actually heard this complaint? too over-the-top, too bloody and/or gory, sure, but too realistic? i don’t know of anyone who labors under that illusion.

    beef two:

    Children pick their occasions for such scuffles, generally when parents or caretakers are nearby, so that if the fight escalates, they can call for help and end the fight … Similarly, fights that break out in schools commonly occur in the presence of a teacher, or where a teacher will likely come quickly to break it up; in prisons, most fights occur in the presence of guards

    seems like a really ripe case for sampling bias. the claim about children has no reference cited in the text — just an anecdote from the author’s observations. no reference for the school fight/teacher claim. there is one listed for the prison claim; i’d be very interested in the methodology.

    • Robert Koslover

      I agree. As a child, most of the fights I observed, or was involved in, took place when no adults were in the vicinity.

      • http://blogjack.net Glen Raphael

        My childhood experience, too, was that fights happen when adults are not around. Indeed, I find it hard to imagine fights breaking out in the presence of a teacher given that – at least in my schools – fighting was prohibited and thus likely to lead to punishment of both parties involved.

  • http://stuartbuck.blogspot.com Stuart Buck

    Totally agreed as to how unrealistic hand-to-hand fighting is in the movies. Ever seen the move where one guy bashes someone else’s face with his own forehead? My daughter (then two years old) did that to me one time, just by accident, i.e., she hit my nose with her forehead. I was paralyzed with pain for several minutes, and was certainly in no condition to get up and keep fighting with anybody. And that was a two year old.

  • http://www.pursuitoftruthiness.wordpress.com James

    In Witness (the movie) violence is fast and ugly.

  • Granite26

    In tribal societies, battles are short, mostly skirmishes among a few hundred men or less, intermittently for a few hours, usually ending when a single victim is killed or seriously wounded. Without social organization to keep soldiers together in ranks, they dart back and forth across a skirmish line, a few men at a time, running away if they are in enemy terrain for more than a few seconds. …

    Any games with a high death penalty are good examples of this. Boffer Weapon Larpers are a good example, as are WoW matches.

    CoDMW may be the perfect example. Compare the difference in behaviour between INSTANT respawns in normal modes and the far more cautious behaviour in SINGLE LIFE modes. Extrapolate that behaviour out past 15 secs to respawn and 2-3 minutes, and I think you’ll see something.

  • Abdullah Khalid Siddiqi

    The first two parts of the Godfather movie had realistic murders. Almost all of them involved gun men running in, or suddenly appearing out of hiding, to take one or two shots that killed and then ran away.. The third movie however messed up with that helicopter scene…

  • J

    Hey Mr. Hanson:

    Surely there is an assumption here that drama- or any form of storytelling- is supposed to be an accurate imitation of reality. Must it be so?

  • http://pojatitkee.blogspot.com Paavo Ojala

    “One person punches another in a crowded bar … and in the next frames everyone is hitting everyone around them. This fighting of all against all, I am quite certain, has never occurred as a serious matter in real life. …”

    I’m not sure about this. Coming in aid of one’s friend perceived as being attacked is quite common. If there are factions present, then escalation is very real possibility.

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  • http://knowinghumans.net Brian Holtz

    Back when UFC had only three rules (biting, fish-hooking, eye gouging), grappling pretty much always won. I haven’t followed it lately, now that it’s less like real fights.

    War movies tend to be very unrealistic about rates of artillery fire, and also about how easy it is for opposing sides to see/observe each other.

    And let’s not forget the standard cliches:

    * bad guys take prisoners, but good guys never do
    * good guys use grenades, but bad guys never do (or at least never effectively)
    * gunshot victims die immediately, unless they’re a lead character
    * gunshot victims die without making noise if shot with a silencer

    Also, if you ever find yourself in a movie fight with someone where you have a knife and he doesn’t, then be sure to immediately give it to him. In movies, the unarmed guy always defeats the knife-wielding guy.

    Saving Private Ryan tried to overcome some of these cliches, with mixed success.

    One of the most famous street gunfights, the 1986 Miami FBI shootout, lasted a full 3-4 minutes and is documented in excruciating detail at http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs7.htm. It’s now a textbook example of how even mortal wounds won’t immediately stop a determined person if there isn’t damage to the central nervous system or to the heart/aorta (i.e. immediate collapse of blood pressure).

    • http://pdf23ds.net pdf23ds

      On a related note, I’ve long wondered what the exact proximate cause of death is with gunshots to the head. It could be loss of blood in some cases, I suppose, and if the bullet hits something vital (like the brain stem) you probably die instantly. But it would seem like most shots through the cortex (which seem to be the majority in movies) would knock you unconscious, but then simply leave you with lots of brain damage. (I believe this is born out in attempted suicide statistics.)

      Also, how much trauma is caused by the bullet’s shockwave tearing up brain tissue, and how much by the simple puncturing of the bullet?

      I am so morbid.

      • Torben

        But it would seem like most shots through the cortex (which seem to be the majority in movies) would knock you unconscious, but then simply leave you with lots of brain damage. (I believe this is born out in attempted suicide statistics.)

        20% of the blood circulation is through the brain. A liter a minute.

        Also, how much trauma is caused by the bullet’s shockwave tearing up brain tissue, and how much by the simple puncturing of the bullet?

        Consider ejection of brain tissue if the bullet penetrates the skull out. If it doesn’t exit, it ricochets.

      • Dave

        Speeding bullet releases energy and forms temporary cavity. Instant unconsciousness occurs. Intracranial bleeding,and edema quickly raises intracranial pressure, causing respiratory arrest. Some brain gunshot wounds are survivable,especially if small low energy bullet used. If delayed brain death supervenes it is principally due to due to intracranial pressure.

  • John B

    The cops/robbers confrontation at the beginning of Reservoir Dogs felt different from most movie violence. Chaotic, fearful, what felt like minutes of running with a sudden few seconds of shooting. Maybe still not realistic, but more so.

    Seconding The Godfather. The scene with the gun hidden in the bathroom.

    Amores Perros might be another movie for closer-to-realistic violence.

  • http://www.twitter.com/johncapone John

    Movie sex isn’t realistic? You mean most people don’t have sex the first time they meet, without condoms, and wearing their bras the whole time?

    • Noumenon

      Just keep wearing your bra anyway, John, it looks good on you.

  • Jim

    I read an interview once with a bodyguard, who trained other bodyguards. He had been in the SAS I think. He was asked what one should do in a fight to maximise your chances of immobilising your adversary. His answer was to punch them in the throat, as hard as possible, hopefully damaging the windpipe. He said this would drop the largest of opponents.

    I have no idea if this would work, but I have always remembered it. Hopefully I will never have to put it into practice.

    • Steve

      There is a long tail of resistance to physical damage, and ability to dish it out. If you’re not experienced at throwing punches, and your target is experienced at taking them, you’re not even going to slow him down.

      Of course, given the accuracy of this post’s subject, you’re unlikely to ever have the chance at a throat punch if you’re in real danger; it’ll be a knife from behind or an overwhelmingly intense onslaught from a few experienced people. If you do have a chance to do anything, remember you’re likelier to be able to match an experienced attacker’s sprinting ability than his fighting ability.

  • http://julianodea.blogspot.com/ Julian

    My recollection of playground fights from my childhood was that they were usually over very quickly. Scuffles, with maybe one boy ending up on the ground. I remember one boy being “king-hit” in a classroom, which knocked him out for a few seconds I suspect. Sometimes two evenly-matched boys might trade blows for a while. There was a great fear of “loss of face”, and all-out fights were rare.

    This is just my recall after nearly forty years of course.

    In terms of long gunfights, I wonder if the capture of the outlaw bushranger Ned Kelly, here in Australia, was not one of the lengthier cases.I have always imagined this fight going on for hours.

  • Thanatos Savehn

    Again, the problem is assuming that everyone is like you and has your same experiences, or lack thereof.

    Anyone who has bow hunted a deer, shot it, tracked its blood trail, slit its throat, hung it up, gutted and field dressed it is less likely to have such a reaction to real violence. At least that’s been my experience.

    I suspect that most urban folk are so far removed from the natural world that pretty much any encounter with nature, red in tooth and claw, is likely to cause more than just a little shock.

  • Mike Rappaport

    Robin, you said that the final scene in Unforgiven was total fantasy. Perhaps, but I found it more realistic than most Westerns. Eastwood beats them not because he is so fast and so great a marksman; he is just able to keep his cool better, being a very experienced gunfighter. Most of them are scared off or too surprised to act fast. Let me put it this way: if one man can beat so many others, maybe this is how it would be done.

  • http://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com TGGP

    I’ve been interested in Collins’ book every since Tyler mentioned it, but it was always so expensive. I just checked it out on Borders’ site though, and apparently its now in paperback for much cheaper.

    There was a collection of movie scenes called “Ultimate Fights”, one of which was from “Crossing the Line“. That one seemed to aim for an unusual degree of realism in that the fighters get really worn out a while before the fight ends. They only go on because, in accordance to what Collins said about such organized bouts, there is a surrounding fight infrastructure which compels them to continue.

  • Jason

    One of the interesting effects of this is that Reality is Unrealistic.

    There’s a ton of stuff about this. See also Only A Flesh Wound, Instant Death Bullet, and Blown Across the Room, among others.

    All of these are mostly part and parcel of the Willing Suspension of Disbelief, with a particular focus on the Rule Of Cool, Rule Of Drama, Rule Of Funny, and Rule Of Scary, as goes violence in stories.

  • Stuart Buck

    Here’s a video of a real street fight. If you blink, you’ll almost miss it (around 1:15 or so). http://conditioningresearch.blogspot.com/2009/10/dont-pick-onthe-wrong-guys.html

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