Something occurred to me the other day as I sat watching The Princess And The Frog with the kids for the twentieth time. (Good movie, that one. It's always nice when kids latch onto something that doesn't make me want to jab a chopstick in both ears.) Original thought doesn't occur to me all that often, to be perfectly honest, so I thought I'd better get it out there.
You're familiar with "The Rule Of Threes," yes? It's a general rule of thumb based on the assumption that people always remember things better in threes (click here for a more in-depth definition). In screenwriting, the most important use of this rule is the three-act structure, which goes something like this:
Act One: Main character gets into trouble;
Act Two: Main character tries to get out of
trouble, but the more he tries, the deeper he
Act Three: Main character gets out of trouble.
Apply this structure to any movie, past, present or future - if done correctly, it will follow this same basic outline.
The Rule Of Threes also applies to scripted dialogue, to hammer home certain points within a given film. Think of it this way: A character recites a line of dialogue early in the movie. (You hear it, but it doesn't really register.) Later, he repeats that same dialogue. (You think, Oh, yeah. I remember. He said that once already.) Finally, toward the end of the movie, he says it a third and final time. (Now you think, Say, he said that two times before. Interesting how it ties in with the rest of the movie.) Bam. Point made.
So, in the spirit of things, I thought I'd give you three recent examples where this occurs:
Line: "Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up."
First Use: During the film's second flashback, Thomas Wayne (Linus Roache) says this to son Bruce (Gus Lewis) after he fishes the boy out of the abandoned well.
Second Use: After Batman (Christian Bale) has been doused with fear toxin, he passes out and hears his father whisper, "Bruce... why do we fall?"
Third Use: As Wayne Manor burns, Bruce worries that he's tarnished his family's good name... until Alfred (Michael Caine) counters with the line, reaffirming that Bruce's most valuable lessons are that of his father (and father figures).
Line: "No sacrifice, no victory."
First Use: Captain Archibald Amundsen Witwicky (William Morgan Sheppard) shouts this to his shipmates as they try to dig themselves out of the frozen Arctic.
Second Use: Ron Witwicky (Kevin Dunn) says the line to son Sam (Shia LaBeouf) before they happen upon Bumblebee. (Sam refers to this line as the "Witwicky motto.")
Third Use: During the climactic battle in downtown L.A. Sam says "No sacrifice, no victory" to Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) after risking his life to protect the All Spark, giving the movie some added depth where there isn't any otherwise.
Line: "That is not slime... it's mucus!"
First Use: After Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) has been turned into a frog, Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos), also a frog, corrects her with this line when she complains she's "slimy."
Second Use: As Tiana and Naveen hide in a hollow tree trunk to avoid getting eaten by alligators.
Third Use: In a nifty reversal, Tiana uses the line to dispatch Facilier (David Keith) toward the end of the movie, after he threatens she'll spend the rest of her days as "a slimy little frog."
So there. How about you? Can you think of any other movies where this happens? Care to enlighten the rest of us? Please share below!