1. Show
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    Characters Dying With Eyes Open

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Show, Mar 8, 2011.

    We see it all the time on TV and movies these days. A character dies with their eyes open and somebody typically shuts them later(unless they are random victims on a crime show not important enough to merit such a scene). Is this too much of a cliche these days? Or does the fact that a lot of people, especially victims of murder who die rather sudden or violent deaths, actually do die this way make it a somewhat acceptable cliche? What are your thoughts on this?
     
  2. Tesgah
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    I must admit that I don't like it. It feels cheesy, so I prefer that people die with their eyes closed.
     
  3. Ellipse
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    It's a good storytelling mechanic, but in reality, when a person dies, his/her eyes tend to rest in a neutral position so they are half open/closed, not fully open or closed as on tv.

    This happens because certain muscles relax while others contract when the eye is open and vice versa. When you die, the muscles of your body slacken, until rigor mortis sets in.

    This is why in the early 1900s and before you would see pictures of dead bodies with coins over their eyes. The coins would weigh down the eyelids so they would stay closed.
     
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  4. Anonym
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    The eye closing thing does seem a bit cliche, but dying with one's eyes open doesn't, because quite simply it's realistic. I guess if someone didn't know that people actually do die with their eyes open it might come off against contrived, but to me it doesn't, because I do.
     
  5. Show
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    ^^^^Of course, if somebody does die with their eyes open, it leaves the closing thing as kind of a given, even if it is cliche. It just seems like something people'd do.
     
  6. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    Ellipse is right. That's actually the reason why people always close the eyes, because the way they end up looks a little ghoulish.
     
  7. Show
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    ^^^^Exactly, it's become kind of like a necessary cliche of sorts. It's cliche but realistically what would probably happen.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, people do die with their eyes open...

    but what bugs me the most in movies/tv, is that for some stupid reason, the eye-closer never really does it... they just pass a hand over the eyes, not even touching the lids, and the eyes magically close!

    so, does anyone here know why actors don't use their fingers to close a dead person's eyes, when that's really the only way it can be done?...
     
  9. Show
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    I'd like the know the answer to that myself. I've noticed that a lot.(Maybe the eyes closes cause the actors playing the corpses can't turn off their reflex to blink when something is coming at them. ;) ) Although I have seen a FEW scattered cased where somebody actually uses their thumbs to slid the lids over the eyes. I think I usually do something like that in my books. (I have characters die both ways and seeing as my books have high body counts, there's plenty of opportunity. xD)
     
  10. Unit7
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    Because it be rather uncomfortable to have someone actually touch your eyelids like that?

    Though it actually doesn't take much to close someones eye lids. Just did a bit of testing and ran my hand down my face. Most of the time I actually did close. Then again I may be unknowingly closing them the old fashioned way.

    But the method would work as long as there was contact. But I think it has more to do with comfort/health reasons. So they just show them running a hand over the dead persons eyes and film it from an angle that suggest there was contact.
     
  11. Ellipse
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    Unit7 has it right. When someone else touches your eyes it is very difficult to fight the reflex to blink. Your eyes are very sensative to touch because they play an important role as one of your senses. If you get hit in the eye, it will hurt. A lot.

    In fact, some of the armed forces use this as a method to check if a person is really dead. Use a finger to flick them in the eye. If they're not dead, they will flinch in pain.
     
  12. Show
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    Interesting. Although I am sure they could get around the actors blinking. They'd need some kind of help to keep their eyes open for the duration of the scene I imagine. And I do recall seeing it done on occasion. I guess the hand is a bit more cinematic than your thumbs.
     
  13. Annûniel
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    True, touching the eye to check for a reflex is a fast, easy way to check if an animal is dead or not. It was procedure to check to see if an animal had died or not at my old job. Though it's not really so painful just to touch the eye, else contacts would be much more of an issue! But it is uncomfortable, and will cause you to blink instinctively. This is why they don't have actors actually close the eyes of an actor who "died" on screen. They will probably blink when a hand or finger comes close to their faces.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    maybe... but it still looks pretty stupid...
     
  15. Show
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    I don't see why actors blinking when touched should be something so limiting in a movie though. I'd think modern technology could easily get around that. At the very least, they could do a little more to make the eye closing look more genuine. lol Sometimes it seems like they don't even try. lol
     
  16. Ellipse
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    Ah, but modern technology costs money, especially if you want it to look convincing. :D
     
  17. Show
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    ^^^^Unless it's a really low budget film, they seem to use that technology for just about everything else, including most of what caused said person to die like this. lol Heck, don't they need to do something to have the actors keep their eyes open that long to begin with? lol Something tells me it would be pretty easy to make it at least a little more convincing. ;)
     
  18. Ellipse
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    In most of those low budge films, the special effects are pretty cheap and look it too. :( *points at Sci-Fi Channel's movies*

    Actors just suppress the urge to blink. There is nothing special about that. It's like a person wearing contacts. They have to train themselves to not blink while putting the contact in or taking it out.

    Actually, in some of those movies, you can see the actor's eyes dialate in the light if you look closely enough.
     
  19. Show
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    ^^^^Resisting the urge to blink in the short-term works. I'm a bit less convinced about extended shots. I would think technology could handle these simple details quite easily without much cost.

    So with the eyes, I think they could pretty easily make it look realistic without requiring some pricey special effects.
     
  20. mammamaia
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    ditto that!... i tried it on myself a bunch of times, in different ways, and never blinked once... so, i put the silly practice down to bad directing, period!...

    goes hand-in-hand with having cops/detectives/whatevers hold their flashlights stupidly 'back-handed' up over their shoulder, instead of the way normal people hold them, which would allow it to be used as a weapon, if necessary... and having non-cop characters stick a gun single-handedly way out in front of them, so it'll be easy for the baddies to grab it or swat it away, instead of holding it in close to the body, from where it can be fired more safely... sheesh!!
     
  21. Show
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    ^^^^Well, to be fair, try it with somebody else and see if you get the same result. If you can do it without much acting experience, I am sure the actors could, for the most part.

    Our movies have a lot of those silly little things eh? lol I guess it's our job as writers to make sure to correct them in our books if called upon! :D
     
  22. SeverinR
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    The only time I have seen this,
    was when our dog got hit by a car. Dead on impact.
    Her eyes would not close.

    I have never had a human die with their eyes open. But I work in a hospital, not many traumatic deaths. The few deaths I worked on when I was an EMT
    one had facial damage, so could not tell.(motorcycle accident) The other was a heart attack eyes closed.

    I think it has to be quick deaths to die with eyes open. ie no time to close the eyes.
     
  23. Show
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    ^^^I agree. If death happens so quick that the person doesn't even pass out, that's likely when such a thing would happen.
     

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