The Fictional Bondage Rules, Part 2

Silly-ass bondage from the movie "Streets of Fire." Diane Lane is tied to the bed by ONE WRIST only by her evil captor. And they say Walter Hill is a great director. Couldn't prove it by me.

copyright 2005 by Pat Powers

Rule 2: Credibility -- the bondage should be convincing within the dramatic context it exists in.

Or to put it more simply -- No Loosies, unless it's a comedy or the captor is supposed to be an idiot. If bondage is sloppy or done in such a way that it can easily be escaped from, it causes the scene to lose all its dramatic impact. Worse yet, it can cause the viewer to slip completely out of the suspension of disbelief and wonder, "Why the heck doesn't she just ...?"

Frex, take all those scenes where women are tied hands in front and left alone and gagged. A great example would be the "Charlie's Angel's" episode in the Loosie Awards section where the damsel, left alone on a cot by her captor, could very easily free herself and escape in less than five minutes with a very reasonable amount of effort, but makes no such effort. Apparently, she is even stupider than her captor, and that's saying something!

Two movies in our Loosie Awards section, "Dangerous Attraction" and "Murder in Mind" actually have scenes where damsels who are gagged, have their feet bound at the ankles and are bound hand in front are able to kill their captors. Serves the morons right.

There are places where bad bondage is effective and makes good sense, primarily in comedy scenes. For instance, the scene in "The Painter" where Bebe Neuwirth is tied up "for her own good" by her dimwitted painter boyfriend. Unfortunately, one of her hands is tied to the handle of a kitchen drawer, and so Bebe is able to free herself within seconds of his departure just by sliding the kitchen drawer out of its niche. Because her boyfriend is SUPPOSED to be a dimwit and the scene is played for laughs, it works just fine for me.

But when an evil genius pulls the same sort of garbage on a woman he intends to kill/rape/marry against her will, and yet she doesn't escape, the movie's credibility goes right out the window.

As a general rule, bonds should appear to be secure enough to hold a wildly struggling damsel in distress for a reasonable amount of time. Gags should appear to be able to greatly diminish the volume of a damsel's cries for help and should appear to be firmly in place. If they're taped, they shouldn't have any corners pulled up and they should cover a signficant portion of the victim's face, better still, wrap entirely around her head as in "Blind Witness" and "Ulee's Gold." If they're cleave they ought to be thick and appear tight and shipshape. Same with ball gags and bit gags. Thin cleave should be very tight and hold in wadding to block the victim's screams (thin cleaves alone aren't very effective in this respect. Over the mouth gags, attractive as they are, are not at all credible and shouldn't be used. Don't even THINK of using a cowboy-style over-the-nose gag to silence a damsel -- it never silenced all the bank robbers and cowboys who used it purely to disguise their features, why should it silence a damsel?

Hands should never be secured in front, they should be secured in back, or overhead, or to a waist chain or some fixed object. Manacles and cuffs should be just larger than the wrists and ankles of their wearers, not the huge, oversized models that their wearers must ball their hands to avoid falling out of. As a general rule, the easiest, most effective and most photogenic way to secure a damsel's hands is behind her back. A rope running from her bound hands and under her arms, then around her neck (rigged so that the pressure is on the back of her neck) is very dramatic and permits you to show her bondage from any angle.

You should always show the full extent of your victim's bondage. Under no circumstances allow her to simply stand with her hands held behind her back. This fools no one and decreases dramatic tension. (The most egregious example of violating this rule is from an old TV series called Time Cop (not to confused with the van Damme movie) in which a damsel wears a futuristic collar and has her hands secured behind her back.

A sharp-eyed DiD fan named Van spotted the fact that a few frames of the scene showed a chain running from the damsel's unseen bound hands to the back of her collar. But they never showed this chain or the wrist cuffs -- just watching the film at normal speed, you would never have guessed there was a chain in place, and you only knew her wrists were secured behind her back because of the way she held her arms.

Just think about that. They went to the trouble to build an elaborate prop for the actress to wear, one that she could wear safely for a long time while the shot was set up, without choking herself. Very likely it had futuristic cuffs to match its futiristic collar. It was a prop that would have added a great deal of visual drama to the scene.

And then they DIDN'T show it! This is ludicrously stupid.

If the damsel is in the open, shackling or tying the legs to prevent a runaway is a good idea. If the damsel is left alone, hogtying her or securing her to some heavy, fixed stationary object is in order. It may seem a litte baroque, but actually it's practical -- audiences know that the penalties for kidnapping and false imprisonment are very severe, so they'll understand if the captors go to a lot of trouble to ensure their captive doesn't escape. Frex, in the real world prisoners in jails, male and female, generally wear leg shackles, and wrist cuffs secured to a waist chain when being transported, because it's deemed safer for the guards if their charges know they have no chance to escape. Which means if they aren't so carefully bound, they do have a chance.

Paying attention to these rules will keep your audience freely suspended over their own disbelief.