RINGS OF POWER & Others: Tell, Don't Show - Breaking Down The Use of Dialogue and Titles

Many movies and tv shows have titles explaining what it is about. And if that isn't enough, it can always be explained through dialogue what is going on. Read on and find out how.

Features Opinion

Often information is dispersed to the viewer through exposition, but that is not only way of telling the audience what is happening. Both titles of and dialogue in movies and shows can be used to various extends to achieve this. With some doing it better than others. Rings of Power is a show that falls in both categories of giving information through it's title and dialogue.

As the title gives it away, Rings of Power is about the Rings of Power. However, the rings don't come into play much later on. And even when they do, characters try to talk around it by saying small or circular objects. That makes it feel like it takes forever, while the viewer already knows what it's about. And this is done with on many occasions. Characters only act in certain ways to create challenges for the protagonist to overcome.

Information through dialogue

Avatar: The Way Of Water has a similar problem. Both have characters act and say what needs to be done and said. In Avatar, Jake only calls in the help of Norman, so that Quaritch can follow them. In Rings of Power, Thondir tells Galadriel that Sauron may be gone, so that it appears nobody believes Galadriel. Even though the viewer was told just a few minutes before Sauron's army grows ever stronger. This makes little sense, but it happens anyway so that the protagonist has something to react to. (1).

However, saying what needs to be said can also be used more effectively. In Vikings: Valhalla, dialogue is very predictable. So predictable even, that the viewer can guess what one character is going to say in response to another. But that doesn't make it bad. Despite the dialogue being predictable, it neatly gives the necessary information to the viewer without it unnaturaly creating obstacles for the main characters in the show.

Taking this one step further, is using dialogue as a device. No matter if it's good or bad. This is the case with Star Wars. For Lucas, dialogue is used to get from point A to B and thus very utiliariatian. Characters state their emotions, intents and feelings all very bluntly. Which as a side effect makes it really quotable. Star Wars' dialogue is thus as recognizable as the sound effects (2). And also, functions like it: it very clearly gives information. It's not what saying what needs to be said, but hearing what needs to be heard.

Information through titles

What needs to be said, or rather what information is to be given, is not just limited to the script. Titles itself can be used as well. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a movie that makes it very clear what the viewer can expect: Captain America and the Winter Soldier. It doesn't however give too much away, only what is necessary to hook the audience in. Similar to Rings of Power, the viewer knows what it's going to revolve around.

Both the recently announced Superman and Batman movies carry the titles Superman: Legacy and The Brave and The Bold. But neither makes it really clear what they are going to revolve around. Superman: Legacy might indicate the long-lasting effects of something, but the movie will actually feature a Superman early in his carreer. The Brave and The Bold takes this even further. It can mean anything, but not that it will be about Batman and Damian Wayne's Robin at all. Even if it's the main focus of the movie.

There are exceptions though, like Spider-Man: Far From Home. It does tell the viewer what situation Spider-Man finds himself in, but only to a certain extent as the trilogy commited to using 'Home' in it's titles. Either way, it gives the viewer enough information. And giving the viewer information is what titles, but also dialogue can be used for. Whether that is regarding what is going on, or what to expect. It says what has to be said.

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