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In the classic sci-fi film, Robocop begins to recover his memories and visits his former family home at 548 Primrose Lane (about 53 mins in). The house appears to have been largely cleared and prepared for sale, even to the point of having an automated estate agent fitted. In the lounge, Robocop finds some dead plants; perhaps someone forgot about them. He then makes two strange discoveries in the kitchen:

  • A broken mug, which apparently belonged to Alex Murphy, has been prominently placed on the work surface. Aside from this, the surfaces are clear.

Murphy's mug

  • A pile of partially burned objects, including a book inside which is a damaged photograph of Murphy's family.

burned book

It seems odd that the house wasn't properly cleared. Leaving rubbish around is not a good way to draw in a buyer. Moreover, the positioning of the mug looks deliberate, and I can't work out how the objects at the back of the kitched came to be partially burned. Is there any explanation for this?

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    I'm assuming his wife was a little despondent about him dying.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 22, 2023 at 11:18
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    @Valorum --- No doubt she was, but that doesn't explain the prominent placement of the broken mug, or why the house is fully prepared for sale, except for a few scattered objects. It looks like someone retrieved objects from rubbish outside the house and put them back after it had been cleared. Commented Apr 22, 2023 at 11:27

1 Answer 1

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In-universe

There's nothing to indicate that anything untoward has happened. The implication seems to be that Murphy's wife widow has given the house one last look before handing it over to the automated real-estate agent.

She evidently decided to burn the last few items that she found in the house in the fireplace (presumably while blubbing her eyes out), then changed her mind and pulled them out and chucked them into the kitchen sink to extinguish them, but then couldn't be bothered/was too distraught to collect them back up again and ended up leaving them on the kitchen countertop where Murphy finds them.

Note that the presence of the dead plant is intended to imply that the house has been on automated sale for a considerable amount of time without any potential buyers visiting.

Out-of-universe

Having perused the script and novelisation, it would appear that this is a case of the tail wagging the dog. In the original script, Murphy finds the cup in a shelving unit and puts it down on the counter hard enough to break it. In the film he finds the cup on the counter already broken.

It's certainly possible that the prop broke wrong during an earlier take and that they just decided to have him find it that way, despite it not making a lot of sense for it to be out on the counter already broken.

enter image description here

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  • "despite it not making a lot of sense". Editors clarify, and editors confuse... :D
    – RonJohn
    Commented Apr 22, 2023 at 20:07
  • I've found that scriptwriters sometimes (ofttimes) write odd things like this into the script because they need information revealed to the audience but a backstory for how that information is revealed isn't necessary, wanted, or cared about. Sometimes we get so caught up in the world that we forget that everything in the movie/book/etc. isn't actually as well thought out as we hope or expect. From the scriptwriter's perspective, it isn't necessary that it is.
    – JBH
    Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 5:54
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    @JBH - My experience is that films that were written before screenwriting software was invented (e.g that tracks dependencies) you often get these weird unexplained events because the thing that explained them got removed but the screenwriter didn't notice
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 6:45
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    I'd buy that for a dollar. Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 5:57
  • Also worth considering, in any big movie they film lots of content that gets cut and even content that isn't cut is often moved around a lot. The editor works with the director et al to take the footage as filmed and arrange it in such a way to best serve the movie experience, this can involve moving footage which was scripted early in the film and putting it later or what may have happened here they might have filmed him breaking the mug but found for creative reasons it worked better to just have him find the broken mug as is. Maybe pacing, or edit flow, or to suggest wife broke it in rage. Commented Mar 25 at 21:13

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