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Author Topic: Fun Deus Ex Machinas  (Read 436 times)

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Offline Fortis Scriptor

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Fun Deus Ex Machinas
« on: March 29, 2018, 10:42:14 AM »
So, I was watching Lord of the Rings for the 'insert number somewhere in the thousands at this point,' and I got to the end of Return of the King and the bit where Frodo and Sam are waiting to get gobbled up by the lava. But then, out from the smoke in a ray of heavenly light, the eagles show up to extract those two Vietnam style. Tolkien's Eagles are quite the meme as far as Deus Ex Machina goes, I'm sure most of you have seen at some point one with a caption along the lines of "Eagles, Because even Tolkien writes himself into a corner sometimes." This got me to thinking about Deus Ex Machina, it's quite an interesting trope, one that these days, writers are taught to avoid, but I think we can all agree that when used right, like the Rohirrim showing up at both Helms Deep, and Minas Tirith to save the day it really pays off and gets the reader or viewer pumped up. (Funny enough, Minas Tirith had a double Deus Ex Machina, when the first Deus Ex Machina ended up in the same corner as the poor bastards they'd come to save.)

So what I'm opening this discussion up for is this. What is your stance on Deus Ex Machina in your own writing, and what are some of your favourite examples of the trope in media you've seen, read, played, or perhaps created yourself?

Offline Coryn

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Re: Fun Deus Ex Machinas
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2018, 12:26:13 PM »
It certainly can be used to effect. I think, like any trope, the trouble people have with it is when it's used too many times, and crosses the line from trope into cliche.

To make it work, it think its possibility needs to be set up earlier on. Not in a chekhovs gun kinda way, but in a way were the reader can expect it as possible, but doesn't maybe suspect it.

I think a good example is at the end of Star Wars, when Han shoots the tie fighter chasing Luke, and therefore knocks Vader out of the way. Han is shown to be leaving the scene earlier, and so the audience doesn't expect him to come back in to the film. And yet he does, and saves the hero when he was otherwise completely doomed. An audience member could have guessed Han was a good enough guy to come back and save Luke, but there was no way to actually know that, especially given Han's character through out the rest of the film. So instead of people calling bull*censored*, everyone comments on how it was a great surprise, and goes home satisfied.

So I guess I'm saying that it needs to conform to the internal logic of the story. Maybe that's not really a deus ex machina in that case. But that's for others to decide.

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