5 days ago
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
The MacGuffin, a phrase coined by Alfred Hitchcock, is a cinematic device that appears most commonly in suspense thrillers or action movies. Basically, its sole purpose is to drive the narrative forward by giving the characters something to care about, kill for, or die for. It can be an object, event, or thing that is of great importance during the first act. Ultimately, however, the MacGuffin itself is often meaningless - it really could be anything.
But you all probably knew that already, so let's have some fun today. Can you name the movies in which the following MacGuffins appear?
-The Sankara Stones
-The Rabbit's Foot
-Letters of Transit
-The Holy Grail
-The Case***(No, I'm not thinking of Pulp Fiction here)
*** My favorite example of a MacGuffin is "The Case." In this particular movie, the screenwriter is being a bit devious by making the MacGuffin ultimately meaningless, not just from the audience's perspective, but also WITHIN the context of the story. As it turns out, The Case may or may not contain anything. The protagonist was never even interested in it. It's a great turn of events and one of the things that elevates this particular movie above the standard action thriller. That, my friends, is the ultimate MacGuffin, and also a pretty cool play on the concept.
Beware of SPOILERS if you read any of the comments to this post.