3084: SHORT-TERM STORAGE FOR MATERIALISED IDEAS / IDEATED MATERIALS


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PETER GAZENDAM | THE MACGUFFIN

JUNE 25 28 2009

The term ‘MacGuffin’, popularized by Alfred Hitchcock, refers to an object in a narrative that captures the viewer’s attention but only serves to propel a sequence of events. It functions as a motivational ‘thing’, a physicalised but empty pretext.

Interviewed in 1966 by François Truffaut, Alfred Hitchcock illustrated the term ‘MacGuffin’ with this story:

‘It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men in a train. One man says, “What’s that package up there in the baggage rack?” And the other answers,”Oh that’s a MacGuffin.” The first one asks, “What’s a MacGuffin?” “Well,” the other man says, “It’s an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands.” The first man says, “But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands,” and the other one answers “Well, then that’s no MacGuffin!” So you see, a MacGuffin is nothing at all.’

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