The print and TV news media is full of the highly visual tragedy of the Costa Concordia, run aground and capsized in the Mediterranean.
Describing the chaos of the evacuation, survivors have likened their experience to the film Titanic.
You get this a lot with disasters, accidents and traumatic experiences. “It was like a movie” say those who were there.
It is a description that grates, however, because those movies in question are attempting to depict a real life incident. So of course any given real-life carnage is going to be “like a movie” because those movies are trying to be likereal-life accidents!
A less traumatic example might be when a model or movie star is described as being ‘sculptural’ or ‘like a sculpture’. Well, of course they are, because the sculptor models his artwork on precisely those people! Its a back-to-front metaphor. Taken to the extreme, one might describe Harrison Ford by saying “he looks like Indiana Jones” or “he looks like Han Solo.”
Yes, yes, I know we describe things via metaphor, and movies are metaphors. But to my mind “it was like a movie” still feels inadequate description of a real-life scene.