What is a macguffin in a movie and what is its origin

Within the television industry and the cinema we find various terms that, although at first we were rare, now they have become the bread of each day.

Thus, from a time to this part we have learned things like what a showrunner is in the series or what is a spoiler and where its term comes from, among many other words related to the industry.

However, today we still find unknown terms or that, although we have come to hear about them, we do not have very clear what they mean.

Today, in Hobby Consoles, we continue to review the cinephile terminology to explain what is a macguffin in a movie and what is its origin .

The term MacGuffin (also known as McGuffin or Maguffin) is an expression that began to be known in the world through the legendary Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock.

In short, a macguffin is an element of suspense (either an object, an event or a person) that makes the characters advance in the plot of the film, but that has no greater relevance in the plot itself.

That element allows the characters in a story to value it a lot, so much that almost all the plot revolves around him, even though the thing itself is not really important for the real story that is developed.

Hitchcock himself explained the meaning of macguffin in the book-interview with Fran├žois Truffaut The cinema according to Hitchcock as follows:

The word comes from this story: they are two men in a train and one of them tells the other What is that package that is in the trunk it has over its head? . The other answer: ah , that s a macguffin .

The first insists: What is a macguffin? , And his travel companion responds: A macguffin is an apparatus for hunting lions in Scotland . But if there are no lions in Scotland, , the first man specifies. Then that s not a macguffin, the other responds.

If you still do not finish having all clear about what a McGuffin is, we are going to put some examples seen in the cinema so that you understand it better.

What's a MacGuffin in Films and Why is It Called That

In the last scene of the Cinematographic Classic 1941 The Maltese Hawk, Sam Spade (played by Humphrey Bogart) delivers a killer and a black hawk statuette to the authorities. When asked what exactly the statuette was, Spade looks in the distance and explains quite unsatisfactory: is something that dreams are made .

This black hawk statuette, the so-called Maltese Falcon , is a perfect example of what a McGuffin is, a valuable element in the plot, but that does not come to relevance itself.

Another very clear example of MacGuffin we have it in pulp fiction , considered by many as the best Tarantino Quentin film that stars, among others John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson.

A good part of the movie has to do with a mysterious briefcase that Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield have to recover for his boss Marsellus Wallace.

But At no time can the content of said briefcase be revealed . Everything we see about him is that a brilliant light of him comes out of him. That s another macguffin of cinema.

The funny thing is that originally the briefcase was going to contain diamonds, but when considering it very banal, Tarantino opted to leave him to the imagination of the spectators.

Where there are diamonds by means of it is in reservair Dogs , the first movie of Tarantino. On the tape, four criminals that survive a failed assault face each other by believing that a traitor is among them. The reason is a bag of diamonds that is rarely seen or mentioned on the tape, giving rise to another macguffin .

Another clear example of MacGuffin is found in ciudadan Kane , the classic of Orson Welles. At the beginning of the tape, Kane on the deathbed of him pronounces a mysterious word, Rosebud . No one knows what he refers to, and from that mystery the complete life of him is recreated.

Finally we discovered that Rosebud was the name of the sleigh of him when he was a child, which does not have a greater relevance in the plot but serves as a conductive thread.

Thus, Rosebud has become one of the most important macguffin in the history of cinema .

And, of course, I could not miss Alfred Hitchcock cinema when talking about MacGuffins in movies. The filmmaker explained in his day what was the best macguffin of all the filmography of him.

The main thing I have learned over the years is that the MacGuffin is nothing, I am convinced of this, but I find it very difficult to demonstrate it to others , commented on the filmmaker.

My best macguffin, and with that I mean the most empty, the most non-existent and the more absurd, is the one we use in with death on heels . The film is about espionage, and the only question that arises in history is to find out what spies look for.

Well, during the scene at Chicago Airport, the central intelligence man explains all the situation to Cary Grant, and Grant, referring to James Mason s character, Question: What do you do? .

The counterintelligence man responds: Let s say he is an importer and exporter . But what does he sell? Oh, only government secrets! , Is the answer. Here you can see that the MacGuffin has reduced to the purest expression of it: nothing at all! Hitchcock explained.

While it is usually attributed to Hitchcock, the merit of having coined the term MacGuffin, it never really claimed him as such . So, where does this expression come from?

It seems, it would be the writer Angus MacPhail, Alfred Hitchcock s partner, who would have to be given by the MacGuffin expression. This was commented by the filmmaker Ivor Montagu in an article he wrote in 1980.

Sometimes the Angus Macphail scenarios editor, my former schoolmate would be there. It was Angus who established the term MacGuffin for the unknown objective of the plot that was not necessary to choose until the planning of history is completed .

If it really was MacPhail who coined the term MacGuffin, today it is not clear how this expression occurred.

According to some sources, Macphail himself used to say that he borrowed him from the story of the two men on the train he mentioned Hitchcock , but no official document has been found where Macphail declared something like that.

Some have speculated alternately that it alludes to the English word GUFF , which is defined as nonsense .

Maybe MacPhail took the first part of him and put the word Guff behind her, creating a completely new term (which was freely named in the honor of him) to tell meaningless stories or an element stupid of history.

Be it as it may, although we do not completely have clear from where the term MacGuffin emerged, it was Hitchcock who finally popularized the term thanks to its frequent use of both the word and the argumentation that I described, being a very used element in cinema.

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