Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Wonderful storytelling - a prop demonstration early in the movie Deepwater Horizon

I just borrowed the DVD of Deepwater Horizon from my friendly local public library and watched last year’s big-budget Hollywood biopic disaster (and even IMAX) movie. What impressed me most was the brief prop demonstration shown above in a one-minute YouTube video. At the breakfast table Mike Williams little daughter Sydney jams a brass gizmo into the bottom of a full Coke can, and then squirts honey into the 'straw' on top. (NPR took note of that demo in their movie review).

If you were wondering how people possibly could drill a well into a pressurized gas and oil deposit, they just showed you the answer to your question - it’s a column of ‘mud.’ You didn’t have to go to Wikipedia and look up the page for Drilling fluid, and read the section under Control formation pressures. And then you saw the “well” go out of control and blow out.    

That’s effective storytelling - show rather than just tell. It reminded me of how another complicated story instead was told poorly - David Lynch’s 1984 science fiction epic Dune. It was based on Frank Herbert’s long 1965 novel about a revolt on the desert planet of Arrakis. A 2011 article at The MARY SUE showed both pages from The Glossary that came with Dune... The Movie. As we walked into the theater, they handed it to us. Here are two examples from that glossary:

MELANGE (May-lahnj): the “spice of spices’” the crop for which Arrakis is the unique source. The spice, noted for its geriatric qualities, is of great importance in empowering the Guild Navigators with the ability to “fold space,” thus uniting the Universe under the Emperor.

SANDWORM (known as Shai-Hulud): Sandworm of Arrakis. Sandworms grow to enormous length. Some are 1500 feet long and 125 feet high.; they live to great age, unless drowned in water, which is poisonous to them. 

But If you hadn’t previously read the novel, you still were really lost for the next two hours and seventeen minutes. Too much about that strange world was left untold or unsaid.

Watch a teaser from Deepwater Horizon that cuts between the tabletop demo and the following disaster.   

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