Hit by a bus

This supercut of people in the movies wandering into traffic and getting hit by a bus is amusing, but it's always been one of my cinematic pet peeves.

The timing is never realistic: often the person is standing in the street for several seconds before the bus hits them, and to maintain the element of surprise, you never hear the squeal of brakes before impact. It's as if there are distracted bus drivers not looking where they're going driving all over the movie universe.

The shots telegraph themselves because of the way they're framed: head-on, parallel to the street, character centered and usually framed in a medium or wide shot from head to waist or head to toe. This is an odd framing because usually the character is consumed with great emotion at that moment (often rage) and so you'd expect to be in a close-up to amplify the emotional moment, the close-up being the shot size of greatest emotional intimacy (unless it's Les Miserables when the entire movie is an emotional peak). So the cut to a wide shot is signal for "we need to give more room on either side of the character to bring the bus in from the side in post-production."

But the worst problem is that "hit by a bus" accidents in the movies are generally used as a narrative deus ex machina. If you don't know how to organically advance the story, just have a character wander into the path of a negligent bus driver. Presto, instant plot advancement.

There are exceptions, of course, when the randomness of a bus accident is central to the theme of the movie. I won't name those movies here because simply seeing the movie title would be a spoiler given the subject of this post, but you'll know those when you see them because as an audience member you'll feel like the one who was hit by a bus out of nowhere and taken right out of the story and into the lap of a lazy screenwriter.