Is life really like a box of chocolates? Is greed good? Are you actually a beautiful and unique snowflake, no matter what Tyler Durden says?
We gathered a wide variety of experts to tell us the truth behind the lessons taught to us by some of our favourite movies.
1. ‘Size Matters Not…’
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Frog-sized mindmaster Yoda slaps down Luke Skywalker over his sizeist tendencies.
Expert: Karim Safari, UK and Europeon Muay-Thai Kick Boxing Champion
“Yoda’s right in the sense that a small, skilled fighter needn’t expect to be beaten by a bigger fighter – I prefer fighting someone bigger than me rather than someone smaller. But he’s wrong to say that size doesn’t matter at all.
The strategies for fighting a bigger opponent are very different from those for fighting a smaller one.
Smaller guys should try to put the bigger guys off balance, take the opportunity to step inside his gravity centre and make his size work against him.
Bigger guys should use distance, make the small guy overstretch to hit him.”
Verdict: Part right Yoda is, but not completely.
Next: King Kong
2. ‘It wasn’t aeroplanes. It was beauty that killed the beast…’
King Kong (1933)
After the big ape pavement-dives off the Empire State Building, movie director Denham (Robert Armstrong) offers his verdict on what really did the monarchial monkey in.
Expert: Mike Druit, RAF Strike Command
“Both modern and old fashioned aeroplane-mounted guns are extremely accurate. You’d have to be a really, really poor shot to miss a large non-moving target. Still, these days, warplanes don’t do a lot of strafing.
I’d have thought a Jaguar attack-bomber would be your best bet. They were used a lot in the first Gulf War. They’re the best ground-attack aeroplanes.”
Verdict: Definitely the aeroplanes what done it.
Next: The Fly
3. ‘Be afraid, be very afraid…’
The Fly (1986)
The understandable reaction of Ronnie (Geena Davis) on seeing the killer insectoid man-mass that Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) has become.
Expert: Paul Kiff, Criminologist and Director of the ‘Cracking Crime’ Research Group, University of East London
“I do believe that people should be more afraid, these days. Not because of crime – there’s less crime these days than ever.
But there are plenty of greater risks – global warming, for a start, which could eventually lead to mass migration, which in turn to lead to great conflict and wars.”
Verdict: Yes, be more afraid. But of drowning.
Next: An American Werewolf In London [page-break]
4. ‘Beware the moon, and stick to the road!’
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Sage advice to Yank tourists David and Jack (David Naughton and Griffin Dunne) as they cross werewolf-infested moors at night…
Expert: Frances Warneford, Rambler’s Association:
“We campaigned hard for the ‘Right To Roam In Britain’s Countryside’. As a result, it’s now possible to leave footpaths that explore open access land.
But I definitely don’t recommend straying if it means a rambler would be going on to private land. The footpaths are there for a good reason.
Verdict: Roam within reason, but be sensitive to the undead.
Next: Wall Street
5. ‘Greed is good!’
Wall Street (1987)
Cynical words to live by from lizardy corporate raider Gordon Gekko.
Expert: Anita Bean, Sports Nutritionist and author of The Complete Guide To Sports Nutrition
“Greed would never be good for your health. To be greedy means ignoring your body’s natural appetite cues, eating more than you need.
The only time it would be ‘good’ is if you want to gain weight (as fat). Only an undernourished person or a sumo wrestler would benefit from greediness.”
Verdict: Gordon won't fit his expensive suits for long.
Next: True Romance
6. ‘It is better to have a gun and not need it, than to need a gun and not have it…’
True Romance (1993)
If a week spent dodging drug dealers, pimps and gangsters has taught comic-shop geek Clarence Worley anything…
Expert: National Rifle Association of America spokesperson
“In 2005, states where individuals had the right to carry firearms had much lower violent crime rates on average compared to the rest of the country.
This included the seven states with the lowest total violent crime rates – and 11 of the 12 states with lowest murder rates.”
Verdict: Gun-toting statistics say yes, but if fewer people had guns, surely fewer people would need guns… just saying.
Next: Forrest Gump
7. ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get…’
Forrest Gump (1994)
Irksome words of wisdom from Mrs Gump to her fleet-footed, slow-brained offspring.
Expert: Cadbury’s spokesperson
“We try our best to make each assortment the same. There will be give or take on one or two units. But, broadly, each box will feature the same proportions throughout.
The whole point of assorted chocolates is that whatever you like, someone else won’t – and whatever they don’t like, there’s always some Granny or Auntie who will. You’re trying to cover a broad spectrum.”
Verdict: Chocolate boxes are designed to be uniform and predictable. Not like life then.
Next: The Untouchables [page-break]
8. ‘They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue…’
The Untouchables (1987)
Wily street cop (Sean Connery) explains the not-so-niceties of getting things done in the real world.
Expert: Prof. Gary Becker, University of Chicago
“The conventional approach to war in democratic states favours retaliation after attacks.
This was the rationale behind the Mutually assured Destruction (MAD) doctrine during the Cold War: the US was prepared to unleash nuclear destruction against the Soviet Union if attacked with nuclear weapons and vice versa.
It worked, although there were several close calls, as during the Cuban crisis.”
Verdict: Malone’s way works, but only if you’re truly prepared to eventually go nuclear.
Next: A Bug's Life
9. ‘First rule of leadership: Everything is your fault...’
A Bug’s Life (1998)
Hard-assed grasshopper gangleader Hopper explains his no-holds-barred management theory to an ant colony…
Expert: Trevor Bargh of management consultants Charter Solutions
“Hopper ended up getting killed by a bird, didn’t he? That’s the comeuppance someone dishing out advice like that deserves. Blame culture doesn’t really achieve anything.
Yes, people have to be aware of the consequences of what they do, but you need more of a positive approach, so that everyone rallies together.”
Verdict: Hopper’s advice is for the birds.
Next: Fight Club
10. ‘You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake…’
Fight Club (1999)
Tyler Durden imparts an ego-crushing view of his fellow man’s place in the grand scheme of things.
Expert: Dr. Tara Rodden Robinson, author of Genetics For Dummies.
“Humans share many genes in common with even the simplest organisms, such as bacteria and worms.
Over 99 per cent of human DNA is identical to any other human on earth, and as much as 98 per cent is identical to sequences found in the mouse genome.
Perhaps the greatest take-home message of the Human Genome Project is how alike all life on earth really is."
Verdict: Spot on. We’re just the same decaying organic matter as everything else.
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