I thought I would comment on this from my perspective, which is to say from
someone without an extensive formal film education.
I think that the escalation of "everything" (violence, car explosions, etc.)
in many mainstream, commmercial films is attributable to an increasingly
jaded audience. Rather than relying on superior stories and superior methods
of presenting those stories, film makers try to top each other with
spectacular visuals and graphic "shock" scenes. Even those films that have
a good storyline, cast, director, etc. are not immune from the percieved need
to "top" previous films in visually dramatic ways.
People naturally learn by imitation----this is how babies learn to walk and
talk-----and though we later learn to learn through other methods, we still
have a natural inclination to imitate. When a film character's speech,
actions or thoughts impress us, we have a natural urge to imitate those
characteristics. Most people can keep this urge contained or indulge it
within in a proper perspective, but an unfortunate few cannot.
Another unfortunate effect of "spectacular" effects that have become
commonplace in many films such as cars exploding (they rarely do), water
shooting skyward when a fire hydrant is damaged (they all have a valve to
prevent this), people being flung about from the impact of bullets (law of
physics doesn't allow this), and serious physical injuries that are incapable
of even slowing down a "real" hero, is the fact that many people having no
other experience with these type of events except for what they see in film,
begin to conciously or subconciously accept them as facts. "Facts" such as
these then become commonplace and expected by moviegoers, so film makers then
have to top these expectations----which is where the escalation begins.
This is all just my uneducated opinion----I look forward to the responses of
others on the list.
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