Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cinema’s “Blood in the Mouth Syndrome”

Hey guys,

Let me share Number 72 from my post on
100 Movie Clichés:

72) Dead for Sure, No Doubt About It
In a movie, the absolute proof of the death of a character is when blood drips slowly from the corner of the mouth. This is in too many movies to document. An interesting variation was the dripping of liquid metal from the evil mutants mouth in X-Men 2. As a physician, I can tell you that blood coming from the mouth after a fight is either, 1) a sign of a communication of the esophagus with a major blood vessel, which would be fatal, or 2) a cut.

No, I was not a doctor. That’s from a collection of reader-submitted movie clichés found on
Ebert’s Little Movie Glossary. And now I’d like to share something that amused me recently in the “Answer Fella” (AF) column from the May, 2009, issue of Esquire:

It seems that in every movie, to show a person is dying they have him bleed from his mouth, even if it’s an arm wound. What kind of wound really causes someone to bleed in the mouth?

AF, who bleeds heavily from the mouth and dies a little bit every time he visits his dentist, posed your question to Dr. Armand Dorian, ER doc, professor of emergency medicine at UCLA, and – most crucially – a technical medical advisor for the TV shows ER and Grey’s Anatomy.

“Bleeding from the mouth happens most often when you have any trauma to your lungs. If you have a significant wound that has something to do with your lungs or your gastrointestinal lining, from your mouth all the way down through your esophagus to your stomach, you’ll actually end up spitting up or vomiting blood.”

But from an arm wound?

“Say the guy got hit in his arm or got his arm chopped off and he’s spitting up blood – what happens is you create a huge amount of pressure inside your chest, kind of like a retching cough, [which] can cause microtears in your mucosal lining, which can actually bleed.”

Come on, doc: Give it to AF straight.

“It’s just an easy place to put blood because the actor can keep it in his mouth and spit it out. And it looks good on camera because they get to show the guy’s face – which is what the actor wants.”

Exactly! Got that? Thought you might like to know.

See also:
100 Movie Clichés, Movie Clichés, Movie Mistakes, Ebert’s Little Movie Glossary, MythBusters, and How Stuff Works.

Now wait just a damn minute, MM. You have an article about Cinema’s “Blood in Mouth Syndrome,” and yet you have a picture of Zooey Deschanel at the top? What’s up with that?

She is
also in the May online edition of Esquire. And I love her.




GabbaGoo said...

Anna Friel sort of looks like Zooey to me...

Oh right... blood in mouth, got it.

Mystery Man said...


Hope you're doing well, GabbaGoo.


Sabina E. said...

oh that's interesting. I always assumed that they would show blood coming out of actors' mouths was because it looked dramatic and cinematic, not cos that's HOW it really is in real life.

i remember that liquis silver blood in X-Men 2. That was awesome.

Sabina E. said...

*liquid, i mean. sorry for the typo

Laura Deerfield said...

I'm annoyed by the "Shoot 'em in the Chest" reflex. Cops do not routinely shoot to kill anyone coming at them. Especially when they might have valuable information. And yet, movies and TV do it all the time. They have a clear shot of a shoulder or a knee but they put several bullets center-of-mass. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

And when someone dies they have a blank stare until another kind soul vaguely waves their hand over their face and -- da da! -- the eyelids have neatly closed so the poor actor doesn't have to keep staring so long that their eyes start to water.

Though that does suggest an interesting artistic choice available to the director, to let those dead eyes stare so long until we get us some post mortem tears. Damn it's sad that this fella died.

Joshua James said...

Actually, the police are taught to respond to lethal force in kind ... in other words, by the time they decide to shoot, they shoot to kill.

They're only supposed to shoot when lives are in danger, and shooting to wound still leaves people in danger.

The movies do the shoot 'em in the shoulder and they'll drop the gun, thing. In real life, when it comes time to shoot, they're taught to recognize it's life or death and shoot to kill.

Of course, this doesn't mean that police DON'T make bad decisions, many do.

A bunch of cops shot and killed a developmentally disabled guy threatening them with a hammer in nyc some years ago ... I don't agree with that, but that's their training.

REmember, when the video of Rodney King made the rounds, the judgment of police officials was that the officers acted IN ACCORDANCE to their TRAINING.

A judgment held up at the trial.

Was it wrong? Absolutely ... but that's how many (it varies state to state, city to city, of course) are trained ...

btw, I don't just LOVE Zoey, I LUUURVE her ...

Martin_B said...

They shot a guy in an apartment near me. The medics took him away and he died a couple of days later in hospital. The thing I remember most was his breathing. It was the most horrifying sound I ever heard. A sort of bubbling straining heaving rasping sound. Presumably his lungs were filling with blood. It was too ghastly to be used in a movie soundtrack though. Patrons would leave the cinema in horror.

Mickey Lee said...

LOL. Love it, MM. "Blood in the Mouth Syndrome", very closely related to "Cough in Act One, Dead by Act Three Syndrome"

Tim said...

At least in "House M.D." they vary the bleeding orifice with each commercial break....and the patient still lives!
Damn! That House is a good doctor!

(and I love that show!)

Anonymous said...

china wholesale
cell phones
mobile phone
cheap cell phones wholesale
cosplay costumes
cheap cell phones
cheap cocktail dresses
Cheap Wedding Dresses
cheap jewelry

men's clothing said...

Your article is great,here i tell you some discount online stores
cheap polo shirts
Nike Tn
Men's Hoodies
Women's Hoodies
Men's Ralph Lauren
Women's Ralph Lauren
Burberry Polo Shirt
Moncler Down Jacket
Ralph Lauren Jacket
Ralph Lauren Coat
North Face Jacket
Columbia Jacket

cheap polo shirts
men's clothing
ralph lauren polo
columbia jackets

soz said...

mirc indir
sohbet odaları
cinsel sohbet
kamerali sohbet
cinsellik sohbet
mirc sohbet indir
sohbet indir
seviyeli sohbet
gay sohbet

Unknown said...

NFL Jerseys
Nike chaussures
Nike TN Chaussures
Chaussures de Sport
Ed Hardy
ed hardy clothes
Victoria Secret Pink
Chaussures Sport
puma chaussures hommes
NFL Jerseys
Tn Requin
Nike Air Rift
jeans diesel
Chaussures puma
Ed Hardy
NFL Jerseys
MBT Shoes
Remise Chaussures Sport
chaussures pas cher
Nike Shox Shoes
Air Max Shoes
Nike shoes
Chaussures Sports
nike tn requin chaussures
MBT Shoes On Sale
Athletic Shoes
Clothing Jeans
ed hardy clothing
MBT Shoes On Sale
Victoria's Secret Underwear
cosplay costumes
cheap cosplay costumes