I enjoy watching and talking about films but have learned never to discuss them with one person because when you mention one, she will say something like “You mean the one where X happens at the end?”, completely spoiling the film. As readers may notice, when writing about films, I try to give notice as to whether there will be a spoiler or not, because part of the enjoyment of a film is not knowing how it will end.
But should there be an informal statute of limitations on revealing a film’s main story?
For example, for a long time, I had not seen The Usual Suspects, though I had been planning to because I had heard that it was good. A couple of years ago, I finally got the DVD and was planning to watch it over the weekend. Then I happened to attend a cognitive science seminar in which the speaker was referring to the different types of narrators using film and book examples, and in the process revealed the ending of that film as an example of one kind. Talking to her after the seminar, I happened to mention this to her as an amusing coincidence and she was highly apologetic for spoiling the film for me. But I laughed it off saying that it was my fault for not having seen a film that had come out way back in 1995.
But that raised the question in my mind: Should there be a statute of limitations for revealing the endings of films? After all, the surprise film endings of some old films have become well known; Citizen Kane (1941), Planet of the Apes (1968), and Soylent Green (1973) being three famous examples.
One shouldn’t gratuitously reveal film endings of course, but perhaps there should be some decent time interval (10 years?) after which one should not be condemned for assuming that they are common knowledge.