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Literature / Moving Pictures (Discworld)
aka: Moving Pictures

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The alchemists of the Discworld have discovered the magic of the silver screen. But what is the dark secret of Holy Wood hill? It's up to Victor Tugelbend ("Can't sing. Can't dance. Can handle a sword a little") and Theda Withel ("I come from a little town you've probably never heard of") to find out!

The 10th Discworld novel and one that changed the nature of the series in many ways:

  • An end to the practice of Klingon Promotion by the wizards of Unseen University due to Mustrum Ridcully taking over as Archchancellor, and therefore a single recurring faculty cast appearing in later books.
  • The last book to use the idea of the Things from the Dungeon Dimensions invading as a generalized threat — later books would shift the idea of extradimensional threats to the elves and others, while the former are simply used as reasons why Wizards are careful about using magic.
  • The start of a theme that would run until The Truth of ideas or inventions from our modern world (or magical analogues) threatening to break the Discworld's Medieval Stasis, but this usually being subject to the Reset Button at the end. Other books to use this include Men at Arms and Soul Music.
  • Though introduced in Guards! Guards!, the characters of Detritus and CMOT Dibbler were made the three-dimensional fan favourites they would become. The book also introduces Gaspode the Wonder Dog, a later recurring character.

The plot is set in motion when the alchemists of Ankh-Morpork discover a way to capture moving images and project them onto a screen. It doesn't take long before the moving pictures become an entertainment sensation, and our protagonists, two aspiring actors named Victor and Ginger, quickly rise to stardom. But all is not well in Holy Wood—something dark is lurking behind the silver screen...

Not to be confused with the Rush album of the same name. Or with, y'know, moving pictures. The Adventure Game Discworld 2 takes some elements from the plot, meshing it liberally with Reaper Man and Lords and Ladies.

Preceded by Eric, followed by Reaper Man.

Contains examples of:

  • Abominable Auditorium: In the caverns under Holy Wood Hill, the protagonists discover the remains of an ancient moving-picture pit — which the narration dubs "the Cthinema" — from the first Holy Wood civilisation, which was destroyed when the Things from the Dungeon Dimensions used it to break through onto the Discworld. Unseen creatures scuttle over the rotten remnants of ancient carpets and curtains, and an audience of skeletons, who apparently died watching the last showing, stare at a strange, rippling screen that hangs in the air, apparently attached to nothing. When they return later, knowing the Things are trying to emerge once again and can only be stopped there, they find the entire population of Holy Wood sitting in the audience, transfixed by the screen...
  • Abstract Scale: The wizard "Numbers" Riktor got his nickname from his insistence that anything can be measured and quantified, including abstract qualities like beauty and reality. And swamp-ness. He had some success in attempting that, if the resograph is any indication.
  • Always Save the Girl: Detritus's top priority at the Cthinema is getting Ruby to safety, although he helps Victor and Ginger deal with the greater threat once it's clear he can't retrieve Ruby otherwise.
  • Arc Words: "Holy Wood dreams." A bit into the book it is revealed "dreams" here is a verb and not a noun, as in Holy Wood itself is some kind of dreaming entity.
  • Ascended Extra: Student wizard Ponder Stibbons is introduced as a very minor character. He will end up appearing in another dozen books (so far), and while never the main character has a pretty substantial appearance in most of them.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: An in-universe example which also provided the page quote.
  • Atlantis: It's implied that the people of Leshp were involved with the last breakout of Holy Wood, and this caused the drowning of Leshp, with only its underwater brass gongs heard echoing mournfully across the bay. Leshp would later appear in Jingo.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: When the movies break the barrier between reality and the Dungeon Dimensions, a giant copy of Ginger steps out from the screen. A giant Victor tries to emerge as well, but is balked when the real Victor ties it up with filmstrip. It even kidnaps a terrified Ape.
  • Boom Town: Holy Wood grows at lightning speed, from an empty worthless beach to a settlement big enough to have an ethnic (troll) bar in just over five weeks.
  • Brainless Beauty: Laddie is a dog version.
  • Brick Joke:
    • The belated arrival of the much celebrated 1000 elephants.
    • Mrs. Cosmopilite is mentioned to believe that three horrible dwarfs spy on her when she undresses each night.note  Later, she offers to check up on Ginger in case any dwarfs are spying on her.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Victor. In a very specific way.
  • Chandelier Swing: During the description of how the famous Ankh-Morpork Civil War allegedly started as a Bar Brawl that got out of hand, there's a mention of someone swinging on the chandelier.
  • Circling Birdies: Happens to the Bursar when the resograph recoils after firing and bonks him on the head.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Gods on Discworld exist and have their power because of millions of people have vague, faraway faith in them. Here a comparable reality-altering force can be produced by just a few hundred people believing what they see with their own eyes in a clickie.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Dibbler thinks that if a single frame of advertisement convinces people to go to an eatery, then five minutes of that frame will work even better.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The ancient wizard Windle Poons mentions having had student japes with "Numbers" Riktor (the inventor of the resograph seen in this book) and "Tudgy" Spold (Greyhald Spold, another ancient wizard who died as part of the events of The Light Fantastic).
    • Victor's rather uncommon surname (Tugelbend) is shared with one of the senior wizards who were Taken for Granite in The Light Fantastic. Though not stated explicitly, it's at least implied that this is the deceased uncle whose bequest allows Victor to live comfortably as an eternal student.
    • "Ankh-Morpork had been burned down many times in its long history—out of revenge, or carelessness, or spite, or even just for the insurance." The last one happened in The Colour of Magic.
    • As in Pyramids the one camel in Holy Wood is far more intelligent than anyone realizes, intelligent enough to not let anyone know how intelligent it is, and has an insult for a name. Evil-Minded Son of a Bitch, in this case.
  • Cosmic Horror: The Things make their last major appearance, along with the Necrotelicomnicon.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: A bit of an inversion; Dibbler does find a pen, but doesn't find paper, so he writes the story of Blown Away on his bedsheets.
  • Covers Always Lie: The poster for the click Sword of Passione shows "a picture of what might just possibly be Ginger" and in the background erupting volcanoes, dragons, and cities burning down. The movie doesn't actually have any of that, but it's still a great success.
  • Damsel in Distress: Ginger always plays this.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Gaspode. Also Soll on occasion.
  • Deliberate Under-Performance: Victor Tugelbend aims to fail his Final Exams every year - but only just. His aim is to fail by the slightest and most narrow of margins - so that he gets to remain a student in perpetuity. But he can't fail so completely that his uncle's bequest is voided. His reason is that he has a trust fund allowing him to live in some comfort - provided he remains a student. The moment he graduates, the money goes. The moment he can't maintain the minimum grade stipulated in his uncle's will, the money goes. Therefore he has to avoid getting a pass mark of 88% but not to let his mark drop below the threshold of 80% that voids his stipend. It's a fine line.
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration: Victor gets into Century of the Fruitbat Productions by pretending to be delivering a message, observing "No one with their sleeves rolled up who walks purposefully with a piece of paper held conspicuously in their hand is ever challenged."
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Ponder Stibbons accidentally spills ink on his own exam paper and so fills out Victor's instead, which the Bursar had cut down to one question ("What is your name?") so Victor couldn't keep getting 84%. As time drags on, he keeps adding more and more annotations to his answer to have something to do. "The Answer to Question 1 is Ponder Stibbons, which is what my name is".
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Rock's remarks about how trolls only get roles as the heavy are reminiscent of Hollywood's unfortunate history of casting too many African-American actors as the Scary Black Man by default.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Silverfish, Detritus and Gaspode all end up in the same bar, drinking side by side and complaining about their problems, without actually listening to a word each other say.
  • Drowning Unwanted Pets: Gaspode the Wonder Dog says his first memory is of being tied in a sack with a brick and thrown into the river Ankh. The only reason he survived at all is that the water in the Ankh river is so polluted and overgrown the sack couldn't sink and he was able to walk back to shore. He recalls he thought the brick was his mother.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: As tape doesn't exist yet, Gaffer Bird cites string instead.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Windle Poons has a minor comedic role in this book before having a major dramatic role in the next book, Reaper Man.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • This is the first appearance of the UU wizards who would later be a recurring cast of comic characters. Although they are already quite well-formed here, there's one inconsistency where the Chair of Indefinite Studies is described as the enormously fat one, while in later books the Dean would have this description.
    • The Dean is also shown as the most conservative and rules-following member of the Faculty, reluctant to go out and see the Clicks until the other members push him into it; in his future appearances, he is usually the most eager to get involved in whatever weirdness is going on. Justified in later books by the Dean, having missed out on so much potential excitement in his youth, making up for lost time.
    • The Bursar is also, strangely enough, the Only Sane Man in the University, a role that's later taken by Ponder Stibbons (who also appears in this book as a very minor character lacking in the traits he gets in the later books); Bursar's not the insane Cloud Cuckoolander we see in later books, but it's implied that Ridcully is slowly driving him to madness, so it might be justified.
      • The Bursar is also mostly sane at the beginning of the next book, Reaper Man, but is slowly driven around the bend by the events of that book (in addition to Ridcully's influence).
    • A minor case, but in this book, Gaspode's ability to cogitate and talk is attributed to the magic of Holy Wood, and he's implied to lose those abilities at the end with the other animals. In later books, he's still intelligent and talking, a reversion attributed to Unseen University's magic-saturated rubbish a la The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents.
    • It's briefly mentioned that there are a few elves in Holy Wood. Elves as seen in later books are inhuman monsters, who are unlikely to be affected by Holy Wood mind control in the same way as you can't poison a cobra. This is handwaved in Lords and Ladies with "there's a few folk who say they're elves".
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Descending into the Cthinema, Victor and Ginger pass some discarded items, including Ruby's red feather boa. While Ruby's not a child, she's a known innocent whom readers fear for upon realizing she's down there somewhere.
  • Eternal Recurrence: At the end, Victor speculates whether the battle between the Golden Guardian and the Things has been happening across all existence. We never do learn if he's right.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Dibbler, a man who'd sell his grandmother for tuppence, refuses to contemplate making pornographic films... at least, not yet.
  • Executive Meddling: CMOT Dibbler's role as the Corrupt Corporate Executive who will stop at absolutely nothing to work Product Placement into the Clicks is an in-universe example.
  • Extremely Easy Exam: Victor Tugelbend, to remain a student in Unseen University indefinitely (which he wants to do to continue getting money from his dead uncle's estate), has been repeatedly almost but not quite passing his final exam. The faculty get tired of this and try to give him a special final exam with one question: "What is your name?".
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: As usual, CMOT Dibbler is back to selling sausages once a definitive ban on clicks is issued by both the wizards and the Patrician.
  • Famous for Being Famous: By Discworld standards (or at least those of the Patrician) this applies to the movie actors. Their fame, instead of being for real-life great deeds (or even their talent, which they haven't actually got much of) is mostly a function of the Holy Wood magic, and deemed as "dangerous."
  • "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: At the end, when the magic of Holy Wood expires, all the animals lose their intelligence, which they're all pretty happy about, by and large.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: When you finally fully understand what is going on, it puts a very sinister slant on the phrase "the magic of the silver screen".
  • Fog of Doom: The unrelenting sunny weather of Holy Wood gives way to cloaking fog on the opening day for Blown Away.
  • Foreigners Write Backwards: Had Victor and Ginger only realized this trope was in effect for Holy Wood's long-ago inhabitants, a lot of trouble might have been averted.
  • Foreshadowing: Gaspode thought Death came as a member of each species he took away (a giant black dog for canines), which happens in Reaper Man.
    • Victor gets Gaspode to run away from danger by throwing a stick, which even a talking dog who fully realizes the consequences can't resist trying to catch. That same irresistible canine urge to chase flung sticks will lead to Wolfgang's death in The Fifth Elephant.
  • Forgotten Trope: Pratchett uses catchphrases and running gags from the 19th century to demonstrate how out-of-touch the ancient wizard Windle Poons is, such as "Tuppence more and up goes the donkey!" and "How's your granny off for soap?" Since nobody but him knows what the jokes are even about, they all count as a Orphaned Punch Line.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: The wizards disguise themselves with "False False Beards", by twisting loops of wire through their real wizardly beards until they look like they're wearing very badly-made false beards. This works well enough that, when they try to invoke their wizardly prerogatives to skip the ticket queue or get into the theater without paying, they are soundly rebuffed.
  • Fowl-Mouthed Parrot: The attempts to add sound to the movies by having parrots recite the lines ran slap up against this trope.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Parodied with Mustrum Ridcully. He's an outdoorsy type that does talk to the animals, but usually to say things like, "Winged ya, ya bastard!"
  • Functional Magic: In one memorable sequence it's described why magic is so rarely used to accomplish anything on the Disc, and why wizards' real job is to stop magic being used:
    Real magic is the hand around the bandsaw, the thrown spark in the powder keg, the dimension-warp linking you straight into the heart of a star, the flaming sword that burns all the way down to the pommel. Sooner juggle torches in a tar pit than mess with real magic. Sooner lie down in front of a thousand elephants.
  • Gate Guardian: The golden man, an obvious Shout-Out to the Oscar, who is at first is taken by the characters to be some kind of dangerous god sealed away behind a gate. Then they realise that the text with this information should be read right to left, and he is in fact standing in front of the gate, i.e. as a guard against the Eldritch Abominations on the other side.
  • Genius Loci: Victor speculates that Holy Wood is one.
  • Genre Savvy: What enables Victor to beat the things from the Dungeon Dimensions.
  • Glamor Failure: Initially, the Thing that emerges from the silver screen looks like a giant Ginger. Very soon, that fades away, leaving a giant-sized mass of limbs, tentacles and eyes instead.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Victor, Ginger and Dibbler are all "branded" by the wild Holy Wood idea with a gold star in each pupil.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Lampshaded by one of the cabbage farmers, who asks his associate what "dang" means after the latter uses the term twice in quick succession.
  • Hard-to-Light Fire: Victor's about to use the highly-explosive octo-cellulose film to immolate one of the Dungeon Things, only to find he doesn't have any matches.
  • Heroic Dog: Gaspode, though he hates being one. Laddie is a much straighter example, and Gaspode becomes one because Laddie's selflessness starts to rub off on him.
  • History Repeats: Victor figures all the major figures drawn to Holy Wood are descendants of the survivors of what happened the first time.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: The Odium's troll doorkeeper, being of a race that eats rocks, says "coming the raw trilobite" instead of "coming the raw prawn". Although just how a fossil can be "raw" probably only makes sense to trolls.
  • If I Had a Nickel...: Windle Poons says that if he had a penny for every time the Watch chased him home, he'd have "fivepence-ha'penny" (because they once gave up halfway).
  • I'll Take Two Beers Too: When the wizards go to the cinema, about eight of them are seeing a movie; two go to the stalls and buy an enormous amount of food. "That seems about enough." "Okay... do you think we should get something for the others?"
  • Immune to Mind Control: Detritus just walks right by the Cthinema screen's hypnotic images, because he doesn't have much brainpower and all of what he does have is entirely fixated on finding Ruby. He's too preoccupied to notice the enticing patterns are there.
  • In a World…: Ideally, a click should be set against the epic backdrop of A World Gone Mad! And it should include a thousand elephants!
    "Why are all Mr. Dibbler's stories set against the background of a world gone mad?
    "Because Mr. Dibbler is a very observant person."
  • Intelligible Unintelligible: The Librarian, as usual. Gets some lampshading from Ginger after Victor translates a large infodump: "You got all that from 'Ook?'" "Well, not just one, obviously." And then there's the bit where Victor is trying to find just the right word for something: "It seemed very, um, what's the word?" "Ook." "Sacerdotal, yes."
  • Interspecies Romance: Ginger's secondary Love Interest in Blown Away is played by the troll Rock. Ginger herself is the only one who seems to object to this casting decision, and she feels that way because she thinks it'll make her look ridiculous.
  • Just in Time: During a chase sequence, Victor realises that the Theory of Narrative Causality means he will dramatically arrive just in the nick of time, but has to run flat out anyway - trying to invoke this and stop to catch his breath would break the 'story'.
  • Kill It with Fire: Victor's solution after the wizards say they can't do anything because the Things feed on magic.
  • King in the Mountain: The Guardian of the Silver Screen (who looks just like my Uncle Oswald, or something like that) is awoken from his slumber by Detritus beating the gong.
  • "King Kong" Climb: The climax features a giant woman carrying an ape up a tall building.
  • Laborious Laziness: Victor is one of the masters of this trope. He's in exceptional physical shape — and the only one to use UU's gym besides the Librarian — because he reasons it's easier to get around when you've got a lot of muscle and no fat to carry around.
  • Marilyn Maneuver: Ginger dreams of this scene. Later, when the Odium gets blown up, the gust of hot air lifts the 50-foot Ginger-thing's skirts around its waist.
  • Mistaken for Fake Hair: See For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself above—the wizards' "fake fake beards" are thought to really be fake beards, and they can't convince someone they're really wizards!
  • Mocky Mouse: The Holy Wood inhabitant Squeak is a sentient mouse with traits of Mickey Mouse and Jerry.
  • More Hero than Thou: Laddie insists on carrying the injured Gaspode to safety, even as Gaspode yells at Laddie to save himself, there's no time.
  • Mundane Solution: The UU wizards, confronted with the manifested Dungeon Things, are at a loss because attacking with spells would only make them stronger. The Things are killed with normal fire and an 800-foot fall.
  • Mystery Meat: The stew at Borgle's commissary is stated to be made of fish, "on the principle that if you find it in water, it's a fish."
  • Mystical Hollywood: Holy Wood is essentially the mystical version of Hollywood, in which moviemaking summons the Eldritch Abominations from Dungeon Dimensions.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: When Victor and Ginger go into Holy Wood toward the end and find there's no sound, Victor is described as mouthing a phrase that "Ginger would not admit to knowing" when he's exasperated.
  • Never Given a Name: The talking duck, mouse, and rabbit have no names, although the cat might have a name, if having once been called "Puss" by a child counts.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The monster is defeated and all is well... when Victor learns that he'd been reading the book wrong and his and Gaspode's attempts to stop Ginger from opening the buried door were only hindering her from waking the Guardian.
  • No Man of Woman Born: There are plenty of (accurate) legends about reading the Necrotelicomnicon causing men to go insane, or worse. Fortunately, the Librarian is not a man, so the worst he gets is a migraine.
  • No More for Me: Ponder Stibbons repeatedly gets found trying to sneak out of the UU for a quick beer at the climax. At the end, after having an Eldritch Abomination fall on top of him, he swears off beer (and, indeed, leaving the UU at all) forever.
  • Non-Promotion: Dibbler hands out meaningless "Vice President" titles like candy.
  • Noodle Incident: Just hinted at, but there must have been quite a few really strange ones, if the sight of Victor riding a film-conjured horse being followed by the other wizards all piled onto Poons's magic-propelled wheelchair around the cameraman, while three others are dragged along behind was only the 57th strangest thing the Librarian had ever seen.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Inverted. Victor is reluctant to spend the night watching over Ginger, lest it affect her reputation. Ginger dismisses his fears, as she doubts her landlady will guess that he's guarding against her possible possession by supernatural forces: "She'll just think we're having sex." Indeed, she does think just that, and heartily approves.
  • Oblivious to Hints: The Dean keeps missing the Chair's hints that he and the others sneak into the Odium through the back of the building, despite them being very obvious.
  • On One Condition: The reason Victor's still a student. The condition is that he must get above a certain mark on every test to keep getting his inheritance - so Victor carefully answers just enough questions correctly that he gains his inheritance but never actually passes to become a full-fledged wizard. The Bursar, having noticed the trend and furious with this, comes up with a test that would have beaten Victor one way or the other: "Question 1) What is your name?" And that is the test. He doesn't show up to take it, on the other hand Ponder Stibbons does...
  • Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?: Troll version: "Is that the legendary Sceptre of Magma who was King of the Mountain, Smiter of Thousands, Yea, Even Tens of Thousands, Ruler of the Golden River, Master of the Bridges, Delver in Dark Places, Crusher of Many Enemies (takes a breath) in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?"
    • It loses something in the translation.
  • ...Or So I Heard: When the wizards see a poster for a "click" with Victor on it:
    Chair of Indefinite Studies: It's a Victor all right, but not our Victor. Says here he's "Victor Maraschino".
    Lecturer in Recent Runes: Oh, that's just a click name. They all have funny names like that. Delores De Syn and Blanche Languish and Rock Cliffe and so on... Or so I'm told. By the porter. He goes to see a click nearly every night.
  • Painting the Medium: Inside the Cthinema, there's no sound, and Victor's and Ginger's attempts to speak to one another are rendered as empty spaces surrounded by punctuation.
  • Performance Anxiety: Despite having appeared in dozens of films, Ginger is terrified to step out of a coach in front of an actual audience of cheering fans. Justified, as she'd never acted in front of anyone but a camera crew before.
  • Playing Against Type: In-universe. Trolls normally play heavies and monsters, but Rock gets cast as a romantic rival of Victor's in Blown Away. Ginger is not amused.
  • Poster-Gallery Bedroom: Ginger decorated her bedroom with the posters of her own "clicks" (movies).
  • Poverty Food: The stew served at Borgle's commissary costs only 30p a bowl, but is so gross (and the "fish" in it so loosely-defined as such) that you have to be desperate to eat it. Luckily for Borgle, Holy Wood's economic nature means that there are plenty of very poor customers.
  • The Power of Acting: Some of the actors actually gain these due to Holy Wood's influence.
  • Primal Chest-Pound: The Librarian tries one, and then has to wait for the buzzing in his ears and the flashing lights in front of his eyes to go away.
  • Product Placement: In-story example. Dibbler persistently tries to force advertising for Harga's House of Ribs into Blown Away.
  • Prop Recycling: In-Universe: Silverfish assumes that the Ankh-Morpork backdrops and props might be used this way to recoup some of the expense of building them for Blown Away. Learning that they'll be burned to the ground is the last straw for the alchemist, who throws a fit that gets him booted out of his own studio.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The fake Ankh-Morpork built for Blown Away manages to look more like Ankh-Morpork than the real thing.
  • Recognition Failure:
    • Since the wizards have mostly avoided the "clicks", when Victor Marachino and Delores DeSyne are given the red-carpet treatment, they're totally perplexed by the whole thing and wonder why the two celebrities are getting all the attention.
    • Also, one clicks fan refers to the Patrician as "some local bigwig" trying to get reflected fame.
  • Reference Overdosed: While Wyrd Sisters and Pyramids started the trend towards increased Shout-Out usage, this is the novel where Discworld's pop-culture allusions can first be said to have reached critical mass: barely a page goes by without a Real Life movie or film-industry reference.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder:
    Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler: Trust me. Have I ever lied to you?
    Bezam Planter: Well, one night last month you sold me a sausage in a bun and you said-
    Throat: I was speaking rhetorically.
    Bezam: Oh. Well. I dunno about rhetorically.
  • Running Gag: "... with a thousand elephants!"
    • Pretty much everyone who works for Dibbler is named Vice-President of something, up to and including a Vice-President in charge of Vice-Presidents.
  • Self-Deprecation: Achmed the Mad's previous work is Achmed the I Just Get These Headaches' Book of Humorous Cat Stories, which is implied to explain a lot about his mental state. The Unadulterated Cat was published the previous year.
  • Series Continuity Error: A minor one. Hwel made reference to popcorn back in Wyrd Sisters, but here, "banged grains" are a new invention. (This can be handwaved by the fact that Hwel's "inspirations" feature a lot of things he isn't personally familiar with.)
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: A subplot features Klatchian stock dealer Azhural N'choate and his clever 12-year-old assistant M'Bu, who receive Dibbler's order for a thousand elephants. They embark on a 3,000-mile journey (mostly offscreen) which takes them through two jungles and across the Disc's two biggest mountain ranges, gathering elephants along the way, taking their herd from three to 363 to a thousand, leaving a trail of accident scenes and a trillion very happy flies in their wake... By the time they arrive, the moving-picture industry has completely collapsed and Dibbler has lost all his money. We never learn what happens when they find out, although The Compleat Discworld Atlas suggests that many zoos along the route subsequently found themselves with more pachyderms than they thought they had.
  • Shaped Like Itself:
    • An alchemist who invents popcorn (or 'banged grains') says "if you put butter and salt on it, it tastes like salty butter".
    • The resograph resembles an ornate ceramic pot, the size of a man of large pot height.
  • She's Not My Girlfriend: Victor about Ginger.
    Gaspode: Your girlfriend...
    Victor: She's not my girlfriend!
    Gaspode: Would-be girlfriend...
  • Shout-Out: Far, far too many to mention here, save for a few notable ones.
    The Dean: Twas beauty killed the beast (He liked to say things like that)
    Chair of Indefinite studies: No it wasn't, it was it splatting into the ground like that.
    • As is the climax, which involves a 50-foot tall blonde woman climbing a tall building, clutching a screaming ape
      • While a couple of wizards on a broomstick fly around its head shooting at it with a crossbow.
    • The cat and the mouse also suggest making a click of... well, a cat trying to catch a mouse. And meanwhile someone has invented the conventional mouse-trap...
    • Then there's Ruby's Troll cover of "Falling in love again", and Detritus' version of "Let's face the music and dance"...
      • She also quotes Mae West at one point.
    • Detritus beating the gong to awake the Guardian is a reference to The Rank Organisation's films' "Gongman" opening.
    • Mr Silverfish's name is a rather obscure one: Samuel Goldwyn of Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer originally anglicised his Yiddish name as 'Goldfish' before switching to Goldwyn.
    • "What's up, Duck?", said the rabbit. The rest of the animals are also shout-outs: The cat talks with a lisp, like Sylvester; the mouse stands in Jerry, and the duck is unintelligible and always angry.
    • One not related to the movies is that the design of "Numbers" Riktor's resograph is based on this ancient Chinese seismograph.
    • And in a reference to both literature and film, an ominous passage foreshadowing the Dungeon Things' emergence is a near word-for-word rehash of The War of the Worlds's first lines.
    • Ridcully is originally known as "the Brown" presumably as a Shout-Out to Radagast the Brown, who actually was a Friend to All Living Things.
    • One of the wizards quotes the famous "not dead which can eternal lie" from H. P. Lovecraft, and a subsequent page backs it up by referring to the opera pit as "the Cthinema".
    • Holy Wood Hill, a.k.a. the ParaMountain, is supposed to evoke a worn remnant of the Paramount Pictures logo—it's even noted that the stars around it seem unusually large, as in the circle of stars in the logo, but this is also foreshadowing because the stars of the Dungeon Dimensions are similarly large and hint at what lies beneath.
      • Earlier, Victor sees Ginger approach on the beach at night, a torch held high and a sash draped over her shoulder, much like the Sony/Columbia Pictures logo.
      • When he later stops her waking up the Golden Man she's in the exact pose of the logo.
    • The Golden Man, who resembles everyone's Uncle Oswald.
    • Death, as he takes the Thing falling from the Tower of Art: You belong dead.
    • Ginger's original name, Theda Withel is a reference to silent film star Theda Bara. Dibbler falsely claims that she's the daughter of "the daughter of a Klatchian pirate and his wild, headstrong captive". In real life, Bara's press agents said that she's the daughter of an Arab sheik and a French woman, while she was in fact the daughter of a tailor from Cincinnati, Ohio.
    • The Necrotelecomnicon is a parody of H. P. Lovecraft's famous Tome of Eldritch Lore, the Necronomicon.
    • A man in half a lion suit comments that he's in a film about going to see a not-very-good wizard, which involves following "a yellow sick toad"...
    • At one point, CMOT Dibbler starts singing and dancing in the rain, just like Gene Kelly.
    • Ginger has a dream involving standing on a vent and having air blow her dress around. Just to make the comparison to Marilyn Monroe really clear.
  • Spit Take: Invoked by Gaspode, when he suggests Victor wait until Dibbler has his mouth full before demanding a percentage of the gross for his next click.
  • Spoofing in the Rain: Dibbler, carried away by the thought of how much money he's going to make on Blown Away, starts dancing to the beat of the rain drops. A cameoing Nobby Nobbs is bemused to see him "singing in the rain like that".
  • Stage Names: Victor and Ginger are credited as Victor Maraschino and Dolores De Syn.
    • Subverted in that Ginger rejects her name, presumably having never heard of Fred Astaire and....
  • Subliminal Advertising: CMOT Dibbler is introduced to the idea and persistently tries to work it into Blown Away after being sponsored by Harga's House of Ribs, for instance putting fireworks in the city set so they'll go off when it's set on fire and spell out "Hottest Ribs In Town". He also seems to get the wrong end of the stick, reasoning that if one single frame of advertising can do it, five full minutes will be even better!
  • Super Wheelchair: Windle Poons' wheelchair.
  • Take That!: Dibbler's idea of inserting five-minute "subliminal" ads into the middle of the shows is a jab at Heyne, the publisher for the German editions of the books that Discworld had been with right up until this very book, which inserted ads just like that into all the books they published.
  • Talking Animal: Several, most notably Gaspode. The animals are all unhappy with their increased intelligence.
  • Theory of Narrative Causality: This always exists on Discworld to some extent, but this book incorporates movie and movie tropes into a universe where previously only oral and written stories existed. As the climax is about a Genre Savvy dashing movie star and his love interest saving the world from a giant inter-dimensional monster attacking the city while the town people watch, this trope gets turned up to eleven.
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!: Dibbler: "That's Mister Megalomaniac to you!"
  • Thing-O-Meter:
    • The "resograph", which measures changes in the fabric of reality. Thanks to the influence of Holy Wood, it starts going crazy and eventually self-destructs. The name is pretty literal, since it apparently comes from Latin "res", "thing".note 
    • Another Riktor invention, the mouse counter, is mentioned in passing. Also a Swamp Meter and the Rev Counter (for use in ecclesiastical areas), plus the star-counting Celestial Enumerator.
  • Timmy in a Well: Parodied with Laddie and Gaspode. When Victor and Ginger are trapped in a cave, they go to a troll pub to get help. Gaspode, who can speak, tries to tell the trolls about the problem, but they don't listen. Laddie only barks, but the trolls recognize the trope from the movies he starred in, and follow him.
  • Tiny-Headed Behemoth: The traditional troll concept of masculine attractiveness is said to be something along the lines of a monolith with an apple perched on top.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Necrotelicomnicon.
  • Totem Pole Trench: The ticket seller at the Odium accuses the wizards of being children in their father's coat. Being disguised as fake wizards apparently worked a little too well.
  • Twinkle Smile: Victor gets one, but without an Audible Gleam, because sound "clicks" haven't been invented yet.
  • Two Words: Added Emphasis: Silverfish warns Dibbler that paying for Blown Away will be "In a word - im-possible!".
  • Two Words: I Can't Count: The word "impossible" is counted as two words by Dibbler. Fans assume this is a reference to legendary Hollywood producer Samuel Goldwyn, malaproper and simile-mangler extraordinaire.
    "In a word — im-possible!"
    "That's two words," said Dibbler.
  • Unexpected Successor: Mustrum Ridcully was elected as Archchancellor of the Unseen University even though he was long retired from wizardry and had moved 500 miles away from the University. In fact, that's why he was elected: since he'd spent the events of Sourcery five hundred miles away minding his own business, he was unconnected with the resultant scandals and thus would be a good placeholder until the incident faded from recent memory. Unfortunately, he had no interest in just being a placeholder, and proved too indestructible to remove via the Dead Man's Pointy Shoes rule.
  • Verbal Tic: "Good boy Laddie! Laddie good boy!"
  • Was Once a Man: The Necrotelicomnicon reveals that when the ancient city of Holy Wood sank into the sea, its people "became one withe the fishes and the lobsters." This is presumably why no one eats the fish that still swim among the submerged ruins.
  • Watch Out for That Tree!: The Librarian's botched attempt to do a Tarzan swing at the Dungeon Thing while wielding an iron pike. He ends up with all four limbs splayed across the side of the Tower of Art, going "...ook..." very softly and painfully.
  • Wham Line: When the Bursar has found "Numbers" Riktor's documents about the resograph (which keeps firing pellets with a 'plib!' in the background) and is reading them aloud:
    "And thus the direction of the disturbance [in the fabric of reality]—" ... whumm... whumm... "—can be estimated by the number and force—" ... whum... whummWHUMMWHUMM. "—of the expelled pellets, which I estimate in serious disturbances—" Plib. "—may well exceed two pellets—" Plib. "—expelled several inches—" Plib. "—during the—" Plib. "—course—" Plib. "—of—" Plib. "—one—" Plib. "—month." Plib.
    • As for the force, the resograph is shooting out pellets hard enough that they can chip away pieces from a stone wall.
  • Wingding Eyes: As usual on Discworld, the eyes reveal something about someone's nature that cannot be hidden. In this case, anyone who has been infected by the Wild Idea literally has 'stars in their eyes', a small golden one in the middle of each pupil.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: The Librarian usually gets aggressive when he's called a monkey, but when Ginger does it, he just pats her hand.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Ginger is not possessed by the Things: she is actually instrumental in defending the world against them. But Victor assumes he is the hero, and she is just the Distressed Damsel, thus preventing her from doing what must be done, even though there were hints that what is possessing her is not evil.
  • You Cannot Kill An Idea: Literally. Moving pictures are inspired by a Wild Idea that escapes into the world from what lies beyond, drawing the Things from the Dungeon Dimensions along in its wake. The priests on the beach could hold it back by remembering Holy Wood, but not destroy it.

Alternative Title(s): Moving Pictures