The three basic things that humans need to do to survive are eat, sleep and breath, right? Yet you don’t really see these happening together in the movies. People on the silver screen are rarely seen doing either of the first two and even in the case of simple respiration, there is nearly always someone who fails to keep it up all the way through to end.
Clearly the stories just don’t require the characters to engage in these mundane pass times but isn’t it a little odd how few films depict the activities that are most common and most essential to our existence?
I’m not asking for scenes of people on the loo but eating can be highly social there is often drama in slumber, especially when there’s dreaming involved so I don’t think it is too much to expect. What I want is movies that show both of these alongside a total absence of death.
Why do I only require single cases of food consumption and voluntary unconsciousness yet demand everyone continues to fill and empty their lungs on a regular basis throughout the whole film? Well, it’s because that is the common pattern of most days in most of our lives. We digest edible items, we rest at night and thankfully in the vast majority of cases any given twenty four hour period does not involve friends and acquaintances passing away.
Sleep is often a motif of course (as in Inception), food can be a theme, (check out The Cook, the Thief, his Wife & Her Lover) and there are even films in which no one dies (although those are rare enough by themselves). What I’m looking for though is movies that have all three. Name me a film in which someone eats, someone sleeps and everyone is still alive at the end.
Back to the Future does well on two counts; Marty sits down to a meal with his future family and he is woken by his future Mum, but Doc is shot and the Libyans crash their camper van so it fails on the third. Looking at the sequel, Old Biff dies of a heart attack after returning to 2015 (presumably to avoid the question of which timeline he has ended up in). It is only Part Three that ticks all the boxes. Marty wakes and starts doing Robert DeNiro impressions in his undies, he eats the buckshot riddled bird and no body actually dies. The whole film is actually about preventing that from happening.
Foody films obviously do well with the dining and their mortality rate generally is good too. Clearly not the aforementioned Peter Greenaway pic or Hannibal but Big Night scores okay. Unfortunately with all that cooking there is little time for sleeping, at least not in its literal definition.
Ratatouille also wipes out because Gusteau has eaten his last supper but I think we can give Chef three out of three as Carl and his young son Percy go to bed after sending the first tweet.
If you consider Chef among the other films I have seen at the cinema recently you will see how much of an exception to the rule it is (possible spoilers):
Guardians of the Galaxy – 0/3
Joe – 1/3
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – 1/3
Begin Again – 1/3
Chef – 3/3
How to Train Your Dragon – 0/3
A Million Ways to Die in the West – 0/3
Fault in Our Stars – 2/3
Oculus – 1/3
22 Jump Street – 0/3
There are clearly some films that pass this test, When Harry Met Sally sails through and so does Ghostbusters, unless you count the demise of Mr Puft, but there aren’t as many as you might suppose.
What do you think, have I scored any of these films incorrectly, can you name any others? Come on, it’s the Summer, the days are long. Grab a beer and have the discussion.