But are they really dead?
March 7, 2005 10:56 AM   Subscribe

A friend recently posed this question, and I had no answer: How come movies always have blood trickling out of the mouth to show that someone is really dead? Does death by physical trauma always cause internal bleeding and your lungs to fill up with blood and eventually work its way out of your mouth? Or is it just that a trickle of blood from the mouth is more dramatic than just a dead stare?
posted by arielmeadow to Health & Fitness (18 answers total)
 
A theatrical prop to emphasize death.

(I never saw 'trickles' of blood from corners of mouths when I worked in Emergency rooms ........ wholesale vomiting exsanguination, yes..........but mere trickles would IRL probably come from mouth trauma. But I guess coughing up blood might show up like this if it was dribbled and not cleaned properly - but likely from cancer or emphysema and not a bullet wound)
posted by peacay at 11:08 AM on March 7, 2005


In martial arts movies, it's an explosion of blood that means a death blow. A trickle before that means serious injury, but the blood spit-take means you're toast.
posted by goatdog at 11:21 AM on March 7, 2005


In response to a question I'd asked because of something I'd seen in a cartoon, my mother told me that when people died, their tongues stuck out. I was maybe seven. I believed this well into high school.

My mother has denied doing this to me, but I am now a Republican. It's a cautionary tale.
posted by MarkAnd at 11:52 AM on March 7, 2005


I'm inclined to think it's just a film convention because the audience immediately "gets it" without explanation--the same reason that film takeout is almost always either pizza or Chinese food, and characters return from the grocer with celery or a baguette sticking out of a paper sack.

That said, goatdog's comment is very interesting, and I'd love to see a site comparing film shorthand in countries with radically different cultures. I know I've seen a number of Chinese films that left me deeply puzzled and feeling I'd missed something important.
posted by Tuwa at 11:59 AM on March 7, 2005


I don't know about the trickle of blood coming out of the mouth, but a sure sign of being severely fucked is a large pool of blood in the ear. Why don't they show that in the movies?
posted by TheGoldenOne at 12:05 PM on March 7, 2005


Related: why do people plugged in to the Matrix have the blood trickle and other physical reactions when supposedly the only way you get injured is due to your brain being convinced you are? It's not like you can cause internal injuries with your mind.
posted by abcde at 12:30 PM on March 7, 2005


Yeah, and why did Keanu-in-the-matrix look just like Keanu-out-of-the-matrix? And why did any of the other million things that made no sense about that movie make no sense?
posted by kenko at 12:33 PM on March 7, 2005


I always assumed it meant that there was a hole in the lung from, say, a bullet wound. It was blood that was coughed up into their mouth. If there was no obvious damage that would cause bleeding to the lung, then it's just silly, really.

Oh, and yes, it is a theatrical convention. Just a way to let us know that the character is a goner.
posted by qwip at 12:34 PM on March 7, 2005


Severe nosebleeds can pour blood into the lungs that is then coughed up. (Happened to me)
posted by inksyndicate at 12:38 PM on March 7, 2005


why do people plugged in to the Matrix have the blood trickle and other physical reactions
They have seizures and bite their tounges

Yeah, and why did Keanu-in-the-matrix look just like Keanu-out-of-the-matrix?
The first humans placed in the matrix were full grown humans, so their brains were already used to working physical bodies with certian dimensions. It was just easier for them to provide avatars that were exactly like their real selves. Later, when babies were placed in the Matrix, all the equipment to do the accurate full body thing was already in place, so there was no reason not to use it.
posted by Capn at 12:45 PM on March 7, 2005


why did Keanu-in-the-matrix look just like Keanu-out-of-the-matrix?

Erm... he didn't. In the Matrix, Keanu was buff-ish, had hair, and no plugs. Outside, he was scrawny and wasted, had his head MOL shaved, and had plugs.

Also, the mouth-trickle = death does not apply to one Captain James T. Kirk. He is required to get a Kirk Trickle* at least once per Instance of Fisticuffs.

*As distinct from a Dick Trickle, who raced cars.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:15 PM on March 7, 2005


Also, the mouth-trickle = death does not apply to one Captain James T. Kirk.

You're confusing the convention of a bloodied lip indicating injury in a fight (Harrison Ford action movies always use this, too) and the convention of blood drooling from the mouth of a guy who was just karate-kicked to death.
posted by me3dia at 1:56 PM on March 7, 2005


It's not like you can cause internal injuries with your mind.

So people who get stress-related ulcers and heart-attacks are injured by an outside force physically hitting them?
posted by falconred at 2:22 PM on March 7, 2005


I don't know about the trickle of blood coming out of the mouth, but a sure sign of being severely fucked is a large pool of blood in the ear. Why don't they show that in the movies?
posted by TheGoldenOne at 12:05 PM PST on March 7 [!]

Heat did.
posted by jikel_morten at 2:32 PM on March 7, 2005


heh. In the health category. Funny :)
posted by jikel_morten at 2:33 PM on March 7, 2005


I think that, if a real manly man was still alive, he would presumably "ptui" that blood onto the ground in a manly way, rather than just let it ebb out lifelessly.

Ergo, any real man who trickles from the mouth is dead.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:29 PM on March 7, 2005


Could be caused by biting your tongue or cheek, but yeah, probably just a movie convention.
posted by Ritchie at 6:14 PM on March 7, 2005


For a long while, most of the Raj Hamal movie posters you'd see in Nepal showed him with blood trickling out of the side of his mouth (as well as his nose, and sometimes the edge of his eyes).

Raj Hamal, being the pretty much the #1 hero of Nepal cinema (over 175 films in the last 15 years), you new he wasn't going to die. But that he was going to take a terrible pounding by the bad guys (before finally gaving them all what-for in the last few minutes).
posted by blueberry at 11:24 AM on March 10, 2005


« Older taxfilter: digital camera vs. film camera   |   Shopping cart question Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.