Did You Know Robocop Has An Almost Perfectly Symmetrical Plot?
When writing a story, it’s hard enough to craft a narrative that can make its way from the beginning to the end in one piece. Plot lines get dropped or forgotten, answers aren’t as satisfying as we’d hoped they’d be, and even with both of those requirements fulfilled, an anti-climactic ending can ruin all of the work those in charge have strived to achieve. Getting from Point A to Point B with enough of a story is scary enough, but to get from Point A to Point B with a completely symmetrical plot? That’s the ultimate landing a script can stick, also known as a chiasmus. If you’re looking for an example of what we’re trying to convey here, then look no further than the 1987 classic Robocop.
Movie blogger Robert Lockard, aka Deja Reviewer, recently posted his analysis on how only one out of order scene stops Robocop from executing a perfectly mirrored story that pivots and begins to reverse the context of each scene that came before it. For example, we see Alex Murphy identify himself by his proper name at the beginning of the film, only to see him do exactly the same thing at the end of the film when he’s regained his mental humanity. Multiple mirror examples like that follow.
The hinge point of the entire film is the successful arrest of Clarence Boddicker, which is followed by the failed attempt to arrest Dick Jones, at which point the events that preceded these arrests occur again. Obviously this big loop of events doesn’t spoil the film’s story, as the film community on a whole has seemed to embrace the original film as a classic masterpiece. Yet this new discovery seems to give even the most die hard fan a new lens to examine one of their favorite films through.
Whether this symmetry was something Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner meant to invoke, or if it was just a happy coincidence, we don’t know. We’re willing to say that it was an intentional stroke of genius, which makes us only love this movie all the more. However, this only puts the sequels and the remake under an even tighter burden of scrutiny, and as always the mileage will vary depending on which one is the topic of discussion. After all, we’re only human.
To read Robert Lockard’s full analysis of Robocop, you can follow this link. For your listening pleasure, we’re including the original film’s classic theme written by the late Basil Poledouris. It’s a song so epic, that not only did the remake pay tribute to it with their opening titles, it’s the song that’s probably been stuck in your head this entire time. (And if not, it is now.)
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