Pulling a Nora

While we’re on the subject of A Doll’s House, it’s time to unleash my treatise on how many other shows overuse Ibsen’s iconic-cum-cliché ending, a tradition I’ve dubbed Pulling a Nora.

The equation that explains the creation of clichés: success breeds fame, which breeds copycats. If your view of history is long enough, then there’s nothing outright new under the sun; originality comes from rearranging existing entities into novel arrangements, with the creativity being specific to the chosen combinations of these borrowed factors.

Homaging a cliché can spur different insights in conversation with the original, tapping into its inherited dramatic power … but doing so (again and again and again and again) runs the risk of diminishing returns.

For instance: how many fucking plays finish with one of the lead characters bursting beyond the confines of the stage, to escape the repressive bounds of the action that’s just unfolded?

AKA: Pulling a Nora. 

Riffing on past forms can still be effective … as long as these moments overcome the increasing possibility of feeling hackneyed.

Another overly common conclusion: after the final line of dialogue, the characters turn to the audience to gaze off at their horizons ahead. And then: blackout (…but perhaps not before they let out one last breath — be it an inhale, an exhale, or both — yet another climactic cliche).

The screen version of these ubiquitous finales would be like characters driving off into the sunset, or staring down the camera lens for the first time all movie.

Now have fun noticing these endings everywhere.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s