For this reason, we will dedicate this space to explaining the meaning of the McGuffin, a technique more used in movies than you might imagine, as we will see.
- Surely you will be interested: The 20 most used cliches in movies.
What is a McGuffin and what is its importance
Generally, the McGuffin is associated with Alfred Hitchcock since he was one of the directors who used it the most.
If anyone still doesn’t know what we’re talking about, here it goes: McGuffin is the name given to an object or device (although it can be any element of the narrative, including a person) that helps develop the plot of a movie, but that doesn’t is vital to the story itself , since the McGuffin does not necessarily have to be always present on screen.
? An element that triggers the main argument but in turn, if it disappears, it doesn’t matter because it continues to advance?
Yes, it is simpler than it seems. Although the term is coined to Hitchcock, other filmmakers have used it in their work.
The 10 most famous McGuffins in the history of cinema
If you are still not clear about what the word McGuffin refers to, we have selected 10 well-known examples that we believe will help you understand him better.
EYE! If you have not seen any of the titles that we present, we warn you that spoilers are coming , so read before which movie we are going to talk about and decide if you want to continue or go to the next one:
10. Doug (The Hangover, 2009 )
This example from McGuffin comes in handy, showing that the resource can be represented in the form of a personand not exclusively as an inert object.
Doug’s bachelor party ends with Phil, Stu and Alan waking up in their hotel room after a wild party. But Doug, the future boyfriend, is not with them. From there, he begins the journey through the city of lights to find him, while the three friends try to reconstruct what their night was like from the puzzle pieces they find along the way. And all because of Doug, which is who they’re in Vegas for and who the movie takes place for.
There comes a point where this charismatic trio has gotten into so much trouble that the public forgets about Doug. The search for the promised gives rise to the plot, but we do not hear from him again until almost the end of the movie, when the mystery has already been revealed.
9. The plans of the Death Star (Star Wars. Episode IV: A new hope, 1977)
The first chapter of the famous galactic saga had as its central axis the theft of some plans whose information we did not quite know what it consisted of.
After boarding the Tantive IV ship and discovering that the stolen plans are missing from the computer, Darth Vader and the entire Empire mobilize to track them down. But, what’s in those shots?
We just know that it’s the nice robot R2-D2 who has them, always accompanied by his inseparable and verbose C-3PO. Later, we meet the rest of the characters (Luke, Obi-Wan, Han, Chewie and Leia), who will try to prevent the Empire from dealing with the androids.
To the end,We know that the blueprints contain details about a glitch on the Death Star that could destroy it, but we hardly learn anything beyond that.
What is not a McGuffin
Let’s think: if Darth Vader had recovered them at the beginning, the Rebel Alliance would have been annihilated without any chance of success and goodbye blockbuster saga.
8. Rosebud (Citizen Kane, 1941)
They say it is one of the best movies in the history of cinema (if not the best), but its plot could not be simpler: the last word of magnate Charles Foster Kane before he died is ” Rosebud.” This will cause an intrepid journalist to delve deeply into the meaning and origin of the word, originating the central theme of the fim.
- You may be interested: The 10 big mistakes of the Oscar Awards.
When we found out it was “Rosebud” after all, many of us had to snap our jaws back together.
7. The Rabbit’s Foot (Mission: Impossible III, 2005)
After a failed second installment, JJ Abrams revived the saga starring Tom Cruise and gave us one of his best installments, which also includes one of the most brutal villains to those that Ethan Hunt has never faced: Owen Davian, characterized by the versatile Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
In order to stop him, the IMF (Mission Force: Impossible) must get hold of “the rabbit’s foot”, a device that we barely get to see on screenand of which we never know what its function is. But it is that it does not matter to us, although the little gadget is constantly being mentioned, the argument keeps us in suspense throughout the footage despite the fact that this explanation is missing.
6. Private Ryan (Saving Private Ryan, 1998)
A new example that the McGuffins can be used in person form: Private James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), “protagonist” of the Steven Spielberg film that narrates as a detachment of marines is sent to look for him.
The rescue mission aims to prevent the almost certain death of Ryan, lost somewhere in Nazi-occupied France. During the course of the film, we follow the advance through enemy territory of the patrol led by Tom Hanks,but it is not until the end that we do not put a face to the one who gives the movie its name .
Although to be fair, it is worth mentioning that James Ryan does play an important role even though he is a McGuffin who is dispensed with for much of the story, since when he refuses to abandon his unit to its fate and return home, indirectly this sealing the fate of the entire rescue company.
5. The Holy Grail (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989)
We choose the Sacred Cup as an example of McGuffin from one of the most famous adventure sagas, although any of the objects that start the action in the rest of the movies could have taken its place (including the skulls from the infamous fourth installment).
This third part begins with a flashback in which we see that the father of Indiana Jones has been searching for this lost treasure all his life. Already today, we know that the Nazis are also after him. But it is not until his father is kidnapped (for him to help them find him), that Indiana Jones also sets out to find him, find the Grail together before the bad guys and save the world.
However, little we get to see why the Grail is such a valuable piece , but the cup has taken the viewer through the action to the end.
4. The contents of the briefcase (Pulp Fiction, 1994)
A peculiarity of the McGuffins is that, when it comes to objects, they do not necessarily have to explain to us what they are or what they are for. And in Pulp Fiction we see it clearly. Tarantino’s convoluted plot progresses although the contents of the briefcase that goes around so much is never revealed. But does it really matter?
We know it’s important and that characters might kill for it, but we never know what’s inside. We don’t care.
It has been speculated on the Internet for years that it was what shone so brightly and lit up the faces of those who looked at it when the briefcase was opened, but Quentin Tarantino has admitted that there is no answer to this conundrum.
3. The $40,000 (Psycho, 1960)
A good example very representative of the work of Hitchcock, who was an enthusiast of this resource. Psycho is a pioneering film that dared to do something that would be unthinkable for many filmmakers: kill its protagonist in the middle of the second act. In addition, it includes a McGuffin who gets lost and even so, the focus of the viewer’s attention is maintained. We refer to the envelope with money that Marion Crane steals at the beginning of the film .
After eloping with him, we follow her drive around the state, believing that the police are after her; until he stops at the famous Bates motel. After the shower scene, with Marion already dead, the car, her body and the forty thousand dollars that have given her so many headaches disappear. Does this harm what remains of the movie until the end? Not at
all. The investigation after her disappearance continues its course without problems.
2. Colonel Kurtz (Apocalypse Now, 1979)
Again, a McGuffin embodied by a character of flesh and blood. In this case, it’s the outcast Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now , Francis Ford Coppola’s personal adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness novel.
In this case, an expedition led by Captain Willard must enter through the Cambodian jungle and go up the Mekong River until they find Colonel Kurtz, an alienated man who has renounced military service and has established himself as a god who rules with his hand . of iron on an autochthonous tribe .
As in the case of James Ryan, the little we know about Kurtz is what is revealed to the protagonist (and by rebound, to the viewer) as soon as the film begins; In addition to the concerns and doubts that this enigmatic character generates in him as he feels that he is getting closer to him.
1. The One Ring (The Lord of the Rings saga, 2001 – 2003)
Yes, the famous Ring of Power from Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Tolkien’s work is also a McGuffin. Let’s reflect and think about what we know about this little indestructible jewel: Sauron, the tireless villain mobilizes all the dark forces of him to find the little object. What else?
Well, it is a weapon of power longed for by all peoples and that, if it fell into enemy hands, it would mean the destruction of Middle-earth.
But, let’s face it, what shows of power does the Ring
Attracts Ringwraiths give when its wearer puts it on his finger, tries to seduce secondary characters and detaches from its owner at will… But that’s it,It is enough for us and enough for us to follow the journey of the Fellowship of the Ring through three films and wish that Good triumphs over Evil. Our interest lies in the journey of the characters, not in the object itself.
All the news and news about cinema and series of the moment, you will find them in this link.
All the news and news about cinema and series of the moment, you will find them in this link.