::hyperventilate:: Why no warning that this movie has gratuitous height sequences?

I am acrophobic in a moderate way (can climb an 8 m long ladder but endure mortal terror up there, walk over a footbridge with hip-heigth guardrails every day but am relieved when I’m on the other side, etc.)

What goes with that, at least in my case, is that when I see pictures or movies of people in situations that I’d dread I feel almost the same distress as if I were in their place. I cannot endure e.g. seeing a scene where people stand a few meters from a cliff edge and distract themselves with a heated conversation instead of lying down and holding on to the ground with hands and feet :wink:

No prizes for guessing that I eschew movies that center on climbing or mountaineering. For LotR:FotR and LotR:TTT I knew from the books about the few relevant scenes and shut my eyes beforehand.

I haven’t found data on the prevalence of acrophobia but I guess some percent at least some percent of a population is in the same case.

Yesterday I saw I, Robot,

which was on the whole better than I expected but leads me to believe that the director has an ex-wife who is acrophobic, from the way he enjoys gratuitously using the motive of height.

  • looking down from the broken lab window into the USR building’s central atrium
  • walking on pedestrian ledges in that building with ridiculously low handrails
  • the USR’s chief executive’s office at the top with ceiling-to-floor windows - urk
  • the whole part of killing the Evil Central Brain - if I were an E.C.B. I’d insist on being housed in a nice solid bunker, not hanging exposed.

Now there are descriptions, age warnings, etc. in movie reviews, promotional material etc., tailored to the respective culture (e.g. in American reviews I often see a reference to ‘language’ - apparently it’s not a silent movie then).

The easily offended are certainly catered well for by these warnings. Would it be too much to ask to mention ‘heights’? After all I guess the proportion of acrophobics in the cinemagoing public might be larger than the proportion that does not want to view nudity :wink:

I have acrophobia, so I can sympathize, but I haven’t experienced that weird feeling while watching a movie. I think you’re asking a bit much of the movies. Where do you draw the line? How many other phobias are the movies to consider? I’m in a second-floor apartment with a balcony, and I still occasionally get that scary feeling that I’m going to fall when I look out over my balcony. Have you seen Vertigo? The protagonist, James Stewart, has a fear of heights, but has to overcome his phobia. I love that movie, and watching him climb all those stairs and reach the top didn’t affect me, although I could understand his fear. Maybe you need to see someone to try to desensitize you. Be realistic: script writers and directors can’t anticipate everything that might cause a bad reaction in someone with a phobia of some kind. (I think I desensitized myself, to some extent; intellectually, I know I’m not going to fall off my balcony, so I force myself to go out and look over it; I force myself to drive over the Chesapeake Bay bridge, even though the height scares me, because I keep tellilng myself the bridge is not going to collapse.) If a fictional movie causes a phobic reaction in you, I suggest you get help.

To clarify: I don’t expect script writers to avoid such scenes, I just wonder why reviews etc. don’t mentions this.

Okay, but I think you’re still expecting too much – why should a reviewer mention it if he/she doesn’t have a similar reaction that you would? I read movie reviews a lot, and reviewers tend to address the acting, dialogue, cinematography, and special effects. As I said, I sympathize, but I don’t know how you can avoid or be prepared for such scenes.

Because then, they would have to write a full page describing in detail every scene in the movie. because there are people who have all sorts of phobia : blood (fairly common in movies), crowds (agoraphobia is common), birds (surprisingly common phobia), knives (I’ve had two different girlfriends who had this phobia), spiders (obvious…and a number of people can’t even look at the picture of a spider), various disasters (a friend of mine would never watch a movie about an earthquake, for instance…I’m sure some people similarily wouldn’t want to watch a scene depicting a fire, either, and they’re fairly common too in movies). Lakes, planes…A friend’s mother has even the phobia of statues. Should there be a warning for scenes taking place in a museum or a catholic church? Some people have the phobia of watching the sky, especially night sky. So, a warning for any scene showing the moon and stars shining just before the main protagonists exchange a passionnate kiss?

That’s just impractical to do so for the sake of a very very small minority of the population who is so sensitive regarding a particuliar thing that they would be made uncomfortable just watching it on a screen. Plus you could add to the mix people who are going to break in tears because the actor dumps her boyfriend (viewer just has been dumped), because an actor is seriously ill (viewer’s mother died from cancer two months ago), …etc…ad nauseam (makes me think there should be a warning for this too : a friend is phobic regarding vomiting. Better not let her watch a scene where a drunk character throws up).

There’s really no reason for reviewers to warn specifically about height scenes rather than about any of the scenes I mentionned above and an infinity of others which are going to disturb some viewers.

SCREEN IT!'s non-judgmental review of I. Robot would have adequately warned you about the height fright sequences.

If you’ve found that helpful, perhaps you can use SCREEN IT! as an ongoing resource to preview any thriller type movies you’d like to see.

You don’t need to donate anything to use the site, but I usually donate about $10.00US each year.

Please let me know if that helps.

Sorry. Corrected link.

Ditto here. Severe reaction to heights. My wife and I did a little hiking two weeks ago and we wound up next to a rather drastic cliff edge; she went out to look over while I turned my back a few feet away and clutched the rail. Not only could I not approach the edge, I couldn’t watch her do it.

And I don’t have the same reaction in movies, either: because I know it’s almost always fake, or at least so carefully controlled as to be completely safe. The actors are either in front of a greenscreen and the “height” is added later, or if it’s a high fall or whatever I know when they’ve switched to the stuntman and I recognize based on the fall whether it’s an airbag or a dropline etc.

But there are exceptions. The rooftop fight at the end of Jackie Chan’s Who Am I, for example. The movie up to that point is pretty mediocre, average JC fare, but the climactic battle on the top of the skyscraper has me squirming and bouncing on the couch every time I watch it. Because, see, the fight is choreographed to take full advantage of the location: at one point, f’rinstance, Jackie gets thrown sideways, and nearly goes over the side except that he catches a handy pipe and winds up landing on the building’s ledge with his body half out into empty space. (Gives me a little shiver just to type it.) The scene is full of this sort of thing. And because it’s Jackie Chan, you know they were actually up there doing this crazy shit. Sure, there are probably safety cables and stuff they’re covering with fx and editing around so you can’t see them, but it’s still the actual actors in the actual location with actual height.

So yeah, I read ScreenIt every single week, for this and ahem other reasons. Very handy resource.

I can sympathise with the OP but would never have thought to say “I am acrophobic in a moderate way” even though my behaviour is much the same. My ex-wife used to do anything that required getting on the roof at home because I looked so terrified when I did it.

A few years ago I was bushwalking with the family in the Blue Mountains and came across a group at the lookout atop a 450 foot cliff. Some guy was rigged up to absail down to people we could hear calling from below. The people with him at the cliff edge were trying to gently encourage him to go over the edge. He said he didn’t want to. As soon as I became aware that he was even contemplating going over I began to feel physically ill.

As he became more definite about not going over I couldn’t help myself, I had to butt in and offer my congratulations that he wasn’t being swept up in the moment and doing this stupid thing. His friends looked mighty displeased with me as I continued to encourage him to “just walk away and forget this nonsense…what does it prove?”

It was all very silly and of course his friends couldn’t just tell me to piss off without jeopardising his trust in them. We ended up with his friends trying to talk him over the edge, me trying to get him to sit down and have a drink and my family trying to get me back to the car. When they eventually got me to shut up it became apparent that my constant chatter was an attempt to stop me “feeling” the revulsion I felt about him absailing. Once I shut up and started feeling sick again I had to leave, much to the other group’s pleasure.

You need a friend who can pre-screen movies for you. When our kids were little, we pre-screened movies that we thought were dubious – for instance, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK was a wonderful movie for them, except for the couple of seconds of way-too-graphic violence (exploding heads, etc). So we would either not let them see it, or warn them when something was coming up that we thought might be upsetting.

That’s probably a simpler solution than asking movies to post warnings to cover every phobia, religious scruple, or whatever.