Physical impossibilities in film

FX – special effects – distort our views of the world of petition law

If there is smoke under the hood, get out of the car immediately and take cover, because the car is about to blow up! And beware of the sparks that pistol bullets make. At least, if you believe everything you see in the cinema.

Effects are as old as the film, because realistic scenes often do not achieve the desired effect. So the clattering of horse hooves is produced with coconut halves, because the real horse is not clear enough to hear, for a light rain shower, a whole water cannon is installed and the porn movie is subsequently synchronized, because the phrase that fell in reality "now finally comes, I have only five meters of film left" does not have the desired eroticism. Yes, even the roughest firecrackers are dubbed (bomb atmosphere in 3D and Dolby Digital).

However, not only is it slightly overdrawn, but in some cases completely exaggerated and outright physical nonsense is shown. Action movies that try to make up for a bland script by running remnants of action are particularly rich in this respect. A person hit by a pistol bullet will indeed collapse, but he will certainly not be pushed in a high momentum over a staircase, while the protector remains stable on the window sill: The following applies "Actio = Reactio" – the thrust of the pistol bullet on impact can’t be higher than the jolt of its firing. Likewise, pistol bullets do not produce sparks when they hit metal, because they are not made of steel, but of alloyed lead, and they do not become so hot on impact that they light up. A sonic vaporizer, on the other hand, does not reduce the pistol bang to an inconspicuous "Flupp". Likewise, the removed bomb is of course not immediately audible with the detonation, but as in a thunderstorm, the thunder follows the lightning only after a delay.

More than 1.8 seconds of carnage is not possible

Minute-long shootings with coarse machine guns are imposing and always popular, but they are complete nonsense: a Mac 10 with 0.45 caliber shifts 1000 bullets per minute, but the magazine holds exactly 30 bullets and is empty after 1.8 seconds. If the actor used a special gun with a 3000-bullet magazine to shoot for 3 minutes without reloading, the bullets alone weighed 45 kilos, not to mention the cartridge cases – this literally leaden gun would be quite detrimental to the casual shooting pose. Moreover, it would be red-hot junk after only one minute, since it is not designed for continuous use without cooling pauses..

In the same way, gasoline does not explode in accidents as easily as movies would have us believe, in which a car falling off a cliff catches fire instantly – in one movie even a few moments before impact! – and disappears only a few seconds later in a fireball. But those movie images in their heads led many people to not buckle up or to hastily drag accident victims with spinal injuries out of the car, risking paraplegia.

The jump through the window: a certain death

Conversely, the cinematic stunt of jumping through a normal window is deadly in real life. In the film, therefore, sugar glass or plastic is used or the window is blown up before the stuntman jumps through it. In "True Lies" you see this when Arnie is almost caught by a terrorist in the men’s room, who then flees into a store and escapes through its front window: In slow motion, it’s easy to see how an explosive charge zounds the center of the windshield on the left side before the terrorist actually jumps through the windshield. And the jump from the second floor succeeds also only in the film without broken bones.

Physically not at all tenable are the popular shrinking or monster tricks. If it should be possible – however – to enlarge or reduce a person without changing the atomic number of his body and thus also the mass, the enlarged person would be in a literal sense "inflated" and would run the risk of being blown away by the slightest breath of air, while the dwarf would simply sink into the ground. If, on the other hand, by some miracle the giant gained in atomic number and mass, its legs could no longer support its own weight – a problem with which the dinosaurs had to contend.

"Darling, we have a giant baby"

Space ships are not allowed to drift by in space or even to explode, because the airless space cannot transmit sound. In contrast to a battle on Earth, flying slugs were not slowed down or eventually fall to the ground, thus eventually penetrating the hulls of attacking ships. Likewise, you don’t see laser beams as glowing pipes, but maybe in a totally smoky bar, and a sniper won’t warn his victim of the coming shot with a red laser dot on his jacket, especially since the targeted person can then recognize the sniper’s location and react accordingly.

Looks cool, but has no basis in physics: Neither did you see the laser beam in daylight, nor did it even cover the environment (Source: Starwars set photo.com)

Some movies like the classic 2001 do everything right – explosions in space are silent – and are impressive nevertheless or just because of that. Other box office hits botch so extremely that they obviously have to be set in a different universe. The website "Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics", which the case discussed here originates, has set up an evaluation system for this purpose, from "GP" for "good physics" uber "PGP" for "still quite usable" and "RP" for "to throw up" to "XP" for "Extraterrestrial Physics"Physics from another world than ours. Completely failed here are "Star Wars I" and the remake of the "Planet of the Apes"Both the flying junk seller Watto and the pod race in Star Wars can only exist in a comic book, but not on any real sky body, and the false sparks of the crossfire in a sliding scene in the monkey planet make many a fireworks show turn green with envy.

The Matrix has a weaving flaw

Also the "Matrix" does not get off scot-free: As is well known, it is a computer simulation, but even this does not explain why the machines feed people to produce energy instead of utilizing the food needed for this more effectively. Some of the kung-fu scenes hurt again "Actio = Reactio" again massive and the policemen hit by Trinity do not fly in the direction that should be expected – it is supposed to look cool and not real.

Even if Trinity is no longer subject to the laws of physics in the Matrix – they apply to the policeman, he has not hacked the Matrix. Therefore, he actually had to fly on his back and not against the wall. (Source: Matrix)

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