Literati’s Law of Averages

September 30, 2008

As defined in Roger Ebert’s Movie Glossary, Literati’s Law of Averages states:

When any character in a movie is reading a book, the page he is reading always will be in the exact center of the book.

Seldom has there been a more egregious example of this law, assuming it can be extended to television as well, than in the following stills from The Sopranos.

First, we have a close-up of the book Carmen Soprano is reading: a real-estate sales exam study book, clearly open to the first page of chapter 1.

The very next shot is a reverse-angle shot, showing Carmen holding the book. It’s been clearly established that she’s just started the book (see the picture above), yet the book is open to its exact center. Maybe it just has an extremely long table of contents, introduction, foreword, and so on?

It’s made all the more infuriating by this counterexample from another Sopranos episode. AJ is reading A People’s History of the United States and finding out about Christopher Columbus’s wacky adventures in enslaving and genociding the Arawaks. This is recounted at the very beginning of the book, as it happens, and AJ’s book is opened to the very beginning.

I guess it’s a function of having different directors for different episodes, but it’s kind of annoying that they got it right once and got it horribly, horribly wrong another time. (And for the record, the real estate example was the horribly wrong one.)

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Powered by WordPress with Hiperminimalist Theme design by Borja Fernandez.

Entries and comments feeds. Valid XHTML and CSS.