Friday, May 9, 2014

The search for the missing "the"

I watched Spike Lee's brilliant 25th Hour last night for the first time in what must have been a decade. I hadn't seen it since I started keeping track of my rewatches back in 2005, in any case. I was so pleased that it held up.

I was excited to take in the whole movie, of course, but there was a special tingling of excitement right at the start, in the first seven or eight minutes before the title appeared. I thought there was a better than average chance that I would see the word "The" affixed on to the front of the title, and was just waiting for the moment when I was proven right.


Lee's 25th Hour is not, in fact, The 25th Hour, though I thought of it as such as recently as two or three years ago.

It was then I started noticing that the omission of the definite article was not just an oversight.

So how did I get it in my head that the movie was called The 25th Hour?

My best guess is that some publication I read at the time of its release mistakenly listed it that way, and since I thought it sounded better than 25th Hour, I made it a permanent part of my brain.

But the poster above obviously disproves me, as does every reference I have noticed in the past couple years. What I think is even stranger, though, is that I didn't notice this sometime before, say, 2010. Which leads me to wonder if the "the" was still appearing in certain places until that point, or in the place I most commonly saw the title appear.

I checked the website I used to write for, where I actually reviewed the movie at the time of its release, and there was no "the" to be found.

What I think happened is that I just didn't see the title in print all that much. The big thing that changed was starting to use, which duels movies against each other in an endless series of duels. It was Flickchart that started regularly exposing me to the title again, whenever the movie would come up in a duel. And I started using Flickchart at the end of 2009.

Just to be sure, though, I thought I would do a thorough check of the available posters in Google images. The closest I got to being validated was this:

It bears the definite article en Espanol ... but that's probably because it would be grammatically incorrect not to.

Then I also found this:

But I don't really think this has anything to do with anything.

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