The law of conservation of details

The law of conservation of details is a principle that emphasizes the fact that every unnecessary detail should be excluded from the film’s narrative, keeping only the information that is relevant to the story. This law applies to various aspects of storytelling, including a character, an object, a dialogue, or others. It suggests that every detail introduced in a story should serve a purpose and contribute to the overall narrative, characterization, and plot development. While this keeps the audience engaged and invested in the story, it does not mean that the narrative should be overly simplistic or without any depth. For instance, the use of symbols in a movie, despite lacking direct relevance to the story, adds a deeper meaning and can provide insights into the character’s psyche or circumstances.

In the film ‘Jurassic Park,’ there is a scene early on where Dr. Ian Malcolm discusses the concept of chaos theory with a young girl. He demonstrates the idea using a droplet of water on her hand, explaining how even small changes in initial conditions can lead to unpredictable outcomes. While this scene might seem like a simple conversation at that time, its relevance is later revealed in the film emphasizing the importance of chaos theory in the context of nature and the perils of tampering with it. This is how Spielberg adhered to the Law of Conservation of Details.

Let’s take another example from his movie ‘Schindler’s List.’ There is a recurring use of a red coat worn by a young girl. Towards the end, the coat is seen again in a pile of bodies. The red coat and young girl in the movie act as a reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust, and their use as symbols underscores the theme of the movie.