A common complaint from audiences is that when it comes to upcoming films, the trailer is often criticised as giving away too much of the film. In fact, some have even called for film trailers to be banned. But before audiences even get to see a trailer, the film’s title is released. So, what if the title gives away the plot?
There are a number of film titles which inevitably give away the plot of the film, and sometimes even the main plot point or twist. Of course, there is a strong argument to be made that a majority of these films are often based on other sources, such as real-life stories, novels and historical events, and that it would follow on that audiences already know the outcome, so why does it matter? However, for those who may not be familiar with the source material then the title can make a massive difference.
If a film title gives away the film’s ending, does it matter? Is it a problem? Or does it not matter as long as the film is good?
1. Lone Survivor (2013)
The giveaway: The audience is left in no doubt as to how many people will make it out of the mission alive.
In Afghanistan in 2005, four Navy SEALS are deployed on an ill-fated covert mission to take out Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. But after the Taliban are alerted to their presence, the Navy SEALS find themselves hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned in a terrible battle.
Lone Survivor was based upon the book of the same name by Marcus Luttrell and spent five years in production before being released in 2013. The film was well received. It garnered praise for its performances and battle sequences, and made $154 million at the box office against a budget of $40 million. It was also nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound mixing.
Trivia: Mark Wahlberg admitted that the shoot was the most physically demanding of his life. Before filming even began, the cast underwent training with real Navy SEALS. Whilst filming, Wahlberg was in a great amount of physical pain as he was suffering from a shattered knuckle, three herniated discs and labral tears in his shoulder. In spite of this, he has frequently said that that this is the film that he is most proud of.
2. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
The giveaway: When will Soloman taste freedom again? The title tells you all you need to know.
In the years leading up to the Civil War, New York state citizen Soloman Northup is kidnapped, sold into slavery and forced to work on a plantation in New Orleans. There, he struggles to survive the brutality of his new life and is subjected to cruelty from one owner, whilst also finding unlikely friendship along the way.
12 Years a Slave was based on the novel by Solomon Northup. Director Steve McQueen had been looking to do a film about slavery but was struggling to find the right story to tell. His wife actually gave him Solomon’s book and told him to read it. McQueen was shocked that he had never heard of him but knew instantly that this was the story that he wanted to portray.
12 Years a Slave was a critical and financial success. It has frequently been called one of the best films of 2013 and won three Academy Award, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. 12 Years a Slave earnt $188 million at the box office against a budget of $22 million.
Trivia: As Michael Fassbender was portraying an alcoholic, he asked his makeup artist to paint his moustache with real alcohol so that the other actors could react to the smell and react as to they would to a man who had been drinking heavily.
3. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
The giveaway: The film builds up the tension as to who will kill Jesse James, or if they will go through with it. The title makes it abundantly clear.
It’s 1881, the infamous Jesse James is planning his next big heist whilst taking out his enemies who are looking to collect the bounty on his head. When younger gang members become increasingly jealous of the famous outlaw, they begin to devise a plan to take him out.
Adapted from Ron Hansen’s 1983 novel of the same name, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was a box office failure, but was praised critically, especially for its performances. It was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Supporting Actor for Casey Affleck and appeared on a number of best of the year lists.
Trivia: The descendants of Jesse James have claimed that of all the films made about Jesse James, this one is the most accurate. The film was also popular with those involved in it. Brad Pitt has referred to The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford as one of his favourite films that he has acted in, and Roger Deakins called the scene where the train arrives in darkness as one of the high points of his career.
4. 127 Hours (2010)
The giveaway: As soon as Aron has his accident, we know exactly how long he will be stranded for.
127 Hours is the true story of climber Aron Ralston’s harrowing experience to save himself after he gets trapped in an isolated canyon in Utah whilst out exploring by himself. Pinned into the canyon by a boulder that has fallen onto his arm and crushed it, Ralston must figure out how to free himself before he runs out of time.
Based upon the true story of Aron Ralston, who wrote about his experience in his book entitled Between a Rock and a Hard Place, 127 Hours was a critical and financial success. It was nominated for six Academy Awards and earnt over $60 million at the box office against its budget of $18 million.
Trivia: Aron Ralston did not tell anyone that he was going on his hike and so when he went missing, no one knew to look for him or where to look for him. Many fans of the film have since gone on to hike the same trail. One of them, sixty-four-year-old Amos Wayne Richards wanted to emulate Ralston’s journey and also went hiking to the same spot without telling anyone.
Richards fell down a seventy-foot-deep ravine, dislocating his shoulder, bumping his head and breaking his leg. It took him four days to pull himself out of the ravine and for Park Rangers to find him.
Park Rangers only knew to look for him because since the release of Ralston’s book and the film, there had been an influx of hikers to the area, and more than two dozen rescues have been performed. Previously the number of incidents in the area was zero.
5. The Great Escape (1963)
The giveaway: Will the prisoners’ plot to escape be successful? The title suggests yes.
The Great Escape follows the story of a group of Allied prisoners who plot to break out of a Prisoner of War camp during World War II. As they try to outwit their captors by digging a tunnel out of the prison grounds, the prisoners find that more is at stake than just the escape.
The Great Escape was based on the book of the same name by Paul Brickhill. Though the film is based on real events that took place, a lot of the actual escape was heavily fictionalised. The Great Escape was one of the highest grossing films of 1963, earning $11.7 million at the box office against a budget of $4 million. The film was also well received critically and has gone on to be considered as one of the classics of cinema.
Trivia: Director John Sturges allowed Steve McQueen to ride in disguise as one of the German soldiers during the climatic motorcycle chase. In the final edit, McQueen is actually chasing himself. He played the German soldier whose motorcycle hits the wire.