In Praise of Exposition


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Published: 2 years ago
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Exposition gets a lot of hate. But is it all bad? In this essay I hope to show the full range of exposition, and spark discussion about what makes it good and bad.


// Movies and Shows Referenced:
0:01 Sherlock, Pilot, BBC
0:16 The Martian
0:25 The Big Lebowski
0:34 The Fellowship of the Ring
0:43 Goodfellas
0:47 Star Wars: A New Hope
0:51 The Revenant
0:58 The Night of, Part 1 HBO
1:16 Back To The Future
1:21 Robin Hood (1973)
1:28 Interstellar
1:42 Mercy (2016)
1:51 Star Wars: The Phantom Menance
2:02 Suicide Squad
2:17 Inception
2:28 Westworld, Pilot (HBO)
2:33 North By Northwest
2:38 The Matrix
2:47 The Wire, Pilot (HBO)
3:00 End of The Tour
3:28 House of Cards, Pilot (Netflix)
3:40 The Big Short
3:57 The Darjeeling Limited
4:27 The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
4:41 Ex Machina
4:55 Star Wars: A New Hope
5:15 Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
5:21 12 Angry Men
5:46 Westworld, Pilot (HBO)

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A great movie that has a ton of exposition: The Hunt For Red October

2 months ago

Or Das Boot, the mother of all great submarine films. It was originally a 5 hour miniseries and you really get to know the crew in that cut. So much dialogue and exposition, yet it's always natural and invests you in the world and the characters.

2 months ago

Ready player one's opening ten minutes is nothing but exposition, and it's just wonderful. It's like reading the rules before playing the game.

3 months ago

arrested development uses exposition as a plot device as well

6 months ago

This deserves a million views

10 months ago

I dont mind exposition when it's some concepts of the movie that we need to understand before we dive into the plot, in order to better familiarise with what the characters are going through. Interstellar, the matrix, ex machina etc are few such examples.

But what i find awful exposition is lacking creativity in telling the audience what the characters were going through or were seeking, before the events of the movie. Like the katana introduction, or a scene in tdkr where the cat woman is threatening the bad guy to give her the clean slate, but then the bad guy first explains what the clean slate is. In deadpool's words, 'Now that's just lazy writing' !

11 months ago

One of my favourites for exposition is LA Confidential. Voice over or dialogue, it's perfect.

11 months ago

Sees The Wire? I'm happy. Great vid as well

1 year ago

exposition ruined modern films. Go watch interstellar's ending again without all of the exposition. It would have been as masterful as 2001.

1 year ago

The Matrix is at 2:36 Matrix fans

1 year ago

please do one about The Night Of, a good show that noone has noticed

1 year ago

0:59 what film is this from?

1 year ago

It's a miniseries. "The Night Of"

4 months ago

The exposition in the movie Vertigo is among the WORST I've ever seen...just awful.

1 year ago

Hitchcock did have some awful exposition.

1 year ago

booom! got it!

1 year ago

Brilliant. Refreshing without VO!

1 year ago

Exposition should be praised when does right, but it should never be treated as something you want. Exposition should be avoided at all costs, whenever it can be, however it is completely necessary to tell most stories.

1 year ago

i really liked the no voiceover, it put the focus on the variety of different stories, that was cool, it allowed the format to be different but i liked it, and it felt more expositional in a way which i thought was cool

1 year ago

Super comprehensive! We actually just made a new video digging a bit deeper into writing effective exposition with proven techniques ;-) https://youtu.be/njZBYNu2vxA

1 year ago

So it's kinda like sound effects...if you notice it, that probably means it's not well done.

1 year ago

I would not say so. There are many instances where very obvious exposition is still well done, and not awkward or boring. The film “Amelie” for instance starts with a very long exposition that makes the characters seem like people you can easily relate to. Also in “The Grand Budapest Hotel” there is a lengthy explanation of one of the main character’s entire rather eccentric disposition. Both are done in a stylistic way that adds to the mood of the movie.

5 months ago

Not necessarily

7 months ago

Dislike for the SS criticizing.

He was dick measuring as a precaution because they could (like we see them try to) devise a plan through whispers and steal his wrist thing, then kill everyone. Etc.

Classic DC hater, doesn't use his brain~

1 year ago

i would like to punch you on your mouth

1 year ago

Clearly doesn't.

1 year ago

Cynima Rapscallion cuz he has good taste?

1 year ago

why would I give money to a DC hater, though?

1 year ago

Unfortunately I don't allow people to punch me in the mouth as a patreon reward, you can get extra content though: https://www.patreon.com/thomasflight

1 year ago