Chekhov’s Gun: Setups and Payoffs in Film




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44 Comments

  1. Hello There
    March 31, 2017
    Reply

    Rey spent years on the planet learning to work on and pilot ships, she also spent a long time learning to defend herself with her staff. This guy really doesn't know what he's talking about.

  2. Stephen Benner
    March 31, 2017
    Reply

    Sort of the opposite of deus ex machina.

  3. CloaknDagger213
    March 31, 2017
    Reply

    I would have compared the Avengers lack of setup at the end with Independence Day to show how that setup could have be done well.

  4. Wendy James
    March 31, 2017
    Reply

    Have you ever heard about another saying that is wide spread in Russia in regards to storytelling? There was a famous comedy scetch in mid-60s, when reporter "accidently" meets the guy in the middle of the street, that "coincidently" happens to be a musician (as a hobby), and "coincidently" there's a piano standing nearby in the middle of the street hiding in bushes.
    Ever since then term "piano in the bushes" or just "piano" in former SU referes to any illogical plot devices that resolve characters' problems, and it's really an opposite to Chekhov's Gun.
    To easier understand the meaning let's look at the adamatium bullet in Logan. We know the whole story, at the beginning Logan has a bullet, at the end Logan dies. If Logan would've shot himself with that bullet – that would've made it a Chechov's Gun, but instead it was used to kill his doppelganger! It breaks the logic of the movie, degrading the value of this plot device, because it was nothing more but a "deus ex" to kill Logan's clone that happened to have adamatium skeleton! They could've easily used any antitank weapon on him, or get the doppelganger high on a drug Logan used, or anything – that doesn't really matter, the whole subplot about Logan wanting to kill himself was used only to shot that doppelganger, not to show any payoff with the character at the end. Which makes this bullet nothing more than a mere "piano" in a weak scenario.
    Water glasses, astma and baseball bat in signs are "guns". Bacterial infection that killed martians in War of the Worlds is a "piano". The tower of light in Wreck it Ralph is a "gun", while Vanilopy's "controllable glitching" is a "piano". Even Harley's martial arts, even if they would've been explained are mere "pianos", not "guns", et cetera.
    In genral "guns" are interesting, while "pianos" are annoying. If you're writing a script and you need a plot device, you should focus on it being organic with the script, something believable, and not impossible. You can't just go "hey, I watched a video on youtube on how to defuse a bomb yesterday", unless it's an absurd comedy like Hot Fuzz.

  5. Jsn Sdx
    April 1, 2017
    Reply

    You would sound awesome with a de-esser!

  6. Brian Ferry
    April 1, 2017
    Reply

    HoustonsProductions1. You describe the term Chekhov's gun as a genenaral rule not introduce an element of a story without making it a part of the story.
    In this story, You didn't have to name names but in referencing setups and payoffs, you said out of all directors "Aaron Sorkin is the king of this".. fine. And then you go on to give examples of setups and payoffs, none from Aaron Sorkin. Chekhov's Gun: Why bring HIM up specifically in this video if you're not going to use any of his material?? I find that ironic.

  7. User 1
    April 1, 2017
    Reply

    nice spoiler alert

  8. Tim Gehrsitz
    April 1, 2017
    Reply

    The Harley example makes me think you've never watched any Batman series before Suicide Squad. The Joker is a character whose background we still don't know. He always told some background story but it was never consistent because it was never the truth. The point of the joker is that his background is a mystery, and he just does what he does for chaos. Same with Harley, because she's supposed to be the Jokers sucker crazed female fanatic. The way she learned is probably uninteresting, so it's unnecessary to the story, so it's best to leave it out.

  9. judgeomega
    April 1, 2017
    Reply

    Time to break out the peanut butter. -Wanted

  10. Bethany Wipf
    April 2, 2017
    Reply

    Was I the only one eagerly waiting for the payoff of Katana's sword in Suicide Squad, "Soultaker"? It's called "Soultaker"! It TAKES SOULS. How cool! Aaaaaaaaaand… nothing.

  11. Sparkles*
    April 2, 2017
    Reply

    I love the Inspector Bond series

  12. Paulus Caesar
    April 2, 2017
    Reply

    While watching this I just kept thinking of the gun hanging at the pub in Shaun of the dead. That's a good payoff… I wonder if they were consciously referencing Chekhov's Gun in that film, as a gag.

  13. Elric of Melniboné
    April 2, 2017
    Reply

    Oh, my god… people need to be walked through movies now? It's terrifying how dumb they've become. Thing only make sense if there's a proper setup? Maybe, if you're too stupid to understand anything.

  14. Carl Siemens
    April 2, 2017
    Reply

    3:35 Rey knows how to fly ships, because she's flown ships before. She says so a little while later:
    Rey: Nice Shooting
    Finn: Now that was some flying
    Rey: Thanks.
    Finn: How did you do that?
    Rey: I don't know!
    Finn: No one trained you?
    Rey: I've flown some ships, but I've never left the planet!

    As for knowing what Wookies are: This isn't explained, but there quite a few species on Jakku that she comes in contact with. It's not too much of a stretch that she would encounter Wookies on occasion.
    She can fight with staffs, rather she fights with a staff once, against two unarmed people. How is this a criticism? Part isn't a payoff, if anything, it's a setup: The film is demonstrating that Rey is more capable that you may have thought.

  15. Audrey Beale
    April 3, 2017
    Reply

    With Rey though, she's meant to mysteriously be connected to the other movies somehow. Yeah she's good at stuff that wasn't set up, but maybe that's hinting at something later to come? Idk. I've had a theory that she doesn't remember who she is, because the brief memories we see of hers seem like they were placed there to make her forget who she really is. The movie seemed to hint that at least Han knew more about her. And that whole vision she has makes no sense right now either,but might later. All I'm saying is that right now, we don't have the whole picture. The first movie may be just one big setup.

  16. Robert Pritchard
    April 4, 2017
    Reply

    It's ironic or something that there's a clip from Pulp Fiction on screen when setups are described, cuz Tarantino is the modern master of NON-setups. His recent movie all include things that are retroactively set up, which is to say, not set up at all. It's like he's writing the script and suddenly says, "Boy, it sure would be good if the MC had the ability to punch through wooden boards," but rather than inserting that detail earlier in the script, he writes, "Insert title card: Five years earlier. Montage of scenes where the MC learns to punch through wooden boards." Suddenly there's a guy with a gun under the floor! Insert title card: Five hours earlier. Some guy: "Ima go under the floor with a gun now so Ah kin shoot them people in five hours time."

  17. Aaryn Bastian
    April 4, 2017
    Reply

    then i raise you this
    whats the point of setting up the daughter in 10 cloverfield lane when in the end we werent given anything to answer where the actual daughter is/did he actually killed the girl. (im sorry i forgot their names)

    because thats the reason emmet and the protag, michelle was it, to kill the old dude and run away so that piece of information plays a big role in the development of the story

  18. fromthawell
    April 4, 2017
    Reply

    This works for great comedy gags in movies as well.

  19. V V
    April 4, 2017
    Reply

    thx for spoiling 10 cloverfield lane without a warning

  20. thetramp123
    April 5, 2017
    Reply

    Uh, Captain America defied authority's orders in Captain America: First Avenger. He's always had a trait to be able to decide between doing what was the right or wrong thing, even if that right choice was potentially against an establishment, even one that he admired. It's just that in the later films, in modern times, there are more complex dilemmas than just fighting nazis.

  21. Aaron Chin
    April 6, 2017
    Reply

    Fuck you mentioned Spectre and I just realized all the "Q showing James his equipment" scenes in the Bond series are specifically to avoid James pulling a gadget out of nowhere and confusing the audience. Pretty cool.

  22. ArlanKels
    April 7, 2017
    Reply

    Sadly I feel like nowadays the whole Chekhov Gun thing is basically overriding any sort of intelligent writing.
    Or rather it's making movies and tv shows significantly predictable.

  23. Daniel Giles
    April 7, 2017
    Reply

    The first time I saw The Avengers, I thought for sure that Thor accidentally charging Iron Man's armor to over 400% was a setup that would pay off later. I immediately assumed his suit would need a boost to that overcharged capacity to save the day in the climax, and that Thor would oblige. I was strangely disappointed, and I still think it would've been a good addition…maybe to give him the boost he needs to get the Nuke through the portal.

  24. Alannah
    April 7, 2017
    Reply

    I think setup also needs to be subtle in a lot of cases though. You can't just blatantly state everything outright.

  25. Justin Bellotti
    April 9, 2017
    Reply

    Anton Chekhov looks like Edward Norton, or is it just me?

  26. Nirbhay Sharma
    April 10, 2017
    Reply

    I loved your video, but god damn man, you can't set up the quinjet scene from Captain America the Winter Soldier right when it's about to get awesome and then cheat us out of that payoff. come on man, I thought you were cool

  27. Abdullah Alarfaj
    April 14, 2017
    Reply

    good video man.
    just a side note, "in bruges" would've had enough content for this entire video essay.
    watch it !!

  28. My Guy
    April 15, 2017
    Reply

    "Remove everything that has no relevance to the story." Oh how wrong Quentin Tarantino proved him.

  29. Edel K
    April 23, 2017
    Reply

    Harley Quinns knowledge of fighting is acknowledged in her files. It's also just a fact of her character. She was a criminal in the batman universe. Almost all of them have fighting abilities.

  30. ChrisFarmer
    April 23, 2017
    Reply

    All the comments are defending Rey but I'm here for Hiccup. 🙂 Yes, we see the shooting contraption very early on before we know much about him. But I think overall, the movie spends a fair amount of time establishing that Hiccup is clever, observant, and good with tools. And before he takes the shooting machine out to hunt dragons, it goes off inside Gobber's shop so the machine itself is established, along with Gobber's frustration that Hiccup is always trying to invent machines instead of fighting like everyone else.

  31. The Loser Club
    May 7, 2017
    Reply

    only good thing to come out of Chekhov, I HATE The Seagull

  32. Vikrant Tyagi
    May 9, 2017
    Reply

    +HoustonProductions1 So does that mean Deus ex machina is exactly opposite of Chekhov's Gun principle? Since Deus ex machina simply disregard any obligation to explain the rescue from situation?

  33. reed whetstone
    May 10, 2017
    Reply

    what's the movie at 2:20?

  34. Charles Wundy
    May 11, 2017
    Reply

    Back to the Future is the holy grail of this shit

  35. Word Unheard
    May 12, 2017
    Reply

    Damn it, man. I spend waaaaaaaaaaay too much time on YouTube as it is. Now, I just had to subscribe to your channel. There goes more hours of my life. That cure for cancer is never going to be discovered by me, now.

  36. Bryan JediKnight 97
    May 12, 2017
    Reply

    Actually they're wrong about Rey, she's a scavenger and has been living on Jakku fighting to survive. Plus she's said that she's flown ships before but never left the planet. So they aren't unearned.

  37. KreativeKill
    May 16, 2017
    Reply

    4:35 youre not wrong that they didnt cover her backstory in suicide squad, but the reason why was covered in the comics, she's acrobatic cuz she did gymnastics and was olympic level bla bla, you get what im saying, but it should have been covered though.

  38. valar
    May 19, 2017
    Reply

    Setting up an environment is an especially important skill in fantasy. You need to establish certain rules for your fictional world in order for your world to be cohesive and to maintain tension in the narrative. One of the problems I had with the Harry Potter films was that the magic system was poorly developed and the wizarding dulels had so many fireworks I was never sure where certain characters were on the 'wizarding scale' or even what was going on, and those scenes often lacked tension.

    Tolkien is an example of setting up an environment done right. In the Lord of the Rings it is always clear who has magical powers and who doesn't, and the use of magic is quite restrained so you know it can't get characters out of trouble and instantly resolve plotlines.

  39. StoryIsEverything
    May 20, 2017
    Reply

    Here are three setups from three of my favourite films.

    Die Hard: Show him the watch/it's a Rolex.
    Ghostbusters: Don't cross the streams.
    Back to the Future: Thirty years ago lightening stuck that clock tower and it hasn't run since.

  40. StoryIsEverything
    May 21, 2017
    Reply

    Setups are normally used for the protagonist to obtain their desire at the climax.

  41. MadBunnyRabbit
    May 22, 2017
    Reply

    But it would make sense for hickup to be a skilled inventor, because he's a crappy warrior and the only other job in the village seems to be a blacksmith. So he has a lot of time to tinker with stuff.

  42. Supernaturlisch
    July 9, 2017
    Reply

    You could NOT have picked a better opening scene. Hot Fuzz is my favorite movie of all time. First I see your The Secret Life of Walter Mitty video, and now this? You have great taste, man, if I do say so myself.

  43. juampy varela
    July 27, 2017
    Reply

    I hate suicide squad and love the mcu, but I disagree when you talk about them here, harley is a murderer psycopath and the movie presents her that way, we dont need an explanation for everything, is like asking "why will smith knows how to shoot, nobody tells us", it doesnt have to be explained.
    In the other hand, civil war makes tony be a really good guy lover of pollitics all of a sudden with the excuse of a woman that says "MY SON DIED". In iron man 1, 2 and avengers we see him act against the system and there is no sign of a transformation, thats why (in my opinion) civil war fails to send it's message, tony is alienated from the real tony stark and becomes someone else just to have a problem with the cap.

  44. Lucky Chips
    November 4, 2017
    Reply

    The wold ends and my families in a survival bunker. I pop in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Then everyone looks at each other. Next everyone starts to beet the crap out of each other, with glass bottles.

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