It’s very easy to miss little details when watching a movie, even if you’ve watched the same one multiple times. And that’s fine because a lot of the time, those details are not meant to standout; they are simply there to help build the scene. Sometimes though, filmmakers put an insane amount of effort into things hardly anybody will ever notice; Easter eggs that are seemingly there just because they can be. It’s fascinating to see the lengths creators will go to see their vision carried out, and the following 10 films all contain insane details that you probably never even noticed.
10. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace – Q-Tip Stadium
This infamous Star Wars prequel has a reputation for jettisoning practical effects in favor of green-screening everything, but there were still a ton of models and props used. Remember the gigantic stands in the pod-racing scene? If you look at it, you would think that it was all created on a computer. However, the stands are actually part of a miniature set designed by model maker Michael Lynch. The truly mind-blowing part is that to create the appearance of a crowd, Lynch used 450,000 painted Q-Tips and blowing fans underneath the models to simulate movement. The Phantom Menace may still be a terrible movie, but that Lynch’s work is still an admittedly impressive technical feat.
9. Monster’s Inc. – Sully’s Hair
The animation wizards at Pixar are no strangers to putting lots of detail into their films, considering how labor-intensive computer animated features are to create. Apparently, no detail is too minuscule for Pixar to phone in, as even things as commonplace as hair are given their due. You may remember Sully, one of the lovable monsters from 2001’s Monster’s Inc., as being an exceptionally hairy creature. What you probably took for granted is just how much work was put into making Sully’s hair look just right. Every single one of Sully’s staggering 2,320,413 hairs were individually animated and every single frame featuring the character took between 11 and 12 hours to render. Clearly, Pixar doesn’t believe cutting corners, no matter how small they may seem.
8. Hero – Perfectly Still Lake
The 2004 martial arts film Hero, starring Jet Li, is considered one of the greatest in its genre, and a lot of that acclaim can be attributed to its absolutely gorgeous cinematography. There’s a fight scene that is set on the surface of a breathtaking, serene lake. The scene is so effective because the lake is so still and pristine, but getting that effect captured on film took some hard work on the crew’s part. Director Yimou Zhang was adamant that the lake’s surface had to be perfectly still for the entirety of the scene, but this only occurred naturally for 2 hours a day, starting at 10 a.m. The 3 minute scene took 3 weeks to film, with the crew having to set up at 5 a.m. each day to prep for the 10 o’clock timetable, emphasizing the brutal reality of filming in natural settings.
7. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World – Dedication To Numbers
Edgar Wright’s adaptation of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series is filled with seemingly unnecessary details — for instance, the star on Ramona Flower’s (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) bag changes to the same color as her hair — but perhaps the craziest is the film’s obsession with numbers. In the film, Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) fights Ramona’s 7 evil exes, and numbers are subtly and not so subtly assigned to each ex’s scenes. Ex #1 has only 1 eye (his hair covers the other), and has 1 chevron on his left shoulder. Ex #2 has a “2” on his car, trailer, a tattoo on his neck, and 2 “X’s” on his belt. And that’s just a small sample. Sure, you probably spotted a few numbers in each evil ex scene, but probably didn’t spot anywhere close to all of them.
6. V For Vendetta – The Letter V Is Everywhere
This 2006 dystopic action film, based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore, is absolutely obsessed with the letter “V”, but some may argue that that obsession borders on the psychotic, as when it’s not being used explicitly on screen, it’s still probably hiding in another scene you didn’t even notice. An absolutely obscene number of frames contain the letter “V” in some shape or form. In one scene, Natalie Portman’s character (whose name is Evey, of all things) has a cut on her forehead in the shape of a “V”. Another scene literally has the space between 2 characters resemble a “V”. Needless to say, trying to spot all the times the letter appears is a vexing (sorry) exercise.
5. The Matrix
The Matrix is such an innovative, significant film that it really comes as no surprise to learn that its directors, The Wachowskis, were intensely committed to not skimping on the details when it came to making their landmark sci-fi film. There are a number of insane details that could be recounted here, but one of the most interesting involves a scene during protagonist Neo’s (Keanu Reeves) training. Taking place on a crowded street within the life-like Matrix computer program, the scene is meant to show Neo how the Matrix works, as he is distracted by a woman in a red dress who stands out from the crowd. The Wachowskis went one step further by putting doppleganers of every single extra in the scene – and did so without CGI! Numerous identical twins were used for the scene, which is just a crazy amount of detail to put into something that most people would never even notice.
4. The Shining – Typed Pages Of Madness
Director Stanley Kubrick was a notorious perfectionist who frequently made absurd demands of his actors and crew, and on more than one occasion caused some of them to have mental breakdowns on set. When it comes to Kubrick’s The Shining, the attention to detail was taken to psychotic levels, as the infamous typed pages used in the film repeating the line “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy” were allegedly all typed out over a period of several months by Kubrick’s assistant Margaret Adams, which is the exact act that Jack Nicholson’s character insanely devotes himself to in the film.
3. Se7en’s Meticulously-Detailed Journals
David Fincher’s now classic murder thriller Se7en has a deeply unsettling atmosphere thanks to the disturbing crimes of John Doe, a murderer played by Kevin Spacey who is never actually present until very late in the movie. It’s difficult to have a character feel present in every scene of the film without him even being there for a majority of the time, so Fincher put a ton of work into crafting a persona around Spacey’s character through the details of his various crimes and personal possessions. Arguably the most elaborate of these details are Doe’s notebooks; designer John Sable spent $15, 000 on old journals and proceeded to fill them up with all kinds of disturbing imagery and notes, even going so far as to rip the books up and sow them back together to get a tattered look, among other crazy details that seem just a bit unnecessary considering the majority of Sable’s work didn’t even appear on screen.
2. Apollo 13’s Space Simulation
Director Ron Howard was committed to making his film based on the disastrous Apollo 13 NASA mission as authentic as possible. Of course, actually filming in space was out of the question, so Howard did the next best thing: create a set on an airplane and have it dive repeatedly to achieve real weightlessness. A NASA KC-135 was commissioned for the job and an amazing 500 to 600 parabolic flights were achieved over 13 days of shooting. No wonder the plane was dubbed the “Vomit Comet”!
1. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2’s Gringotts Vault
Each film in the Harry Potter franchise spent a lot of time and effort making the magical world of J.K. Rowling’s fiction come to life on screen. By the time the last film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, came out in 2011, you would think that the filmmakers would have just used CGI to create the enormous piles of money and treasure used in the Gringotts Bank vault scenes. Apparently, creating laborious sets was on the mind of the film’s crew because over 200,000 individual pieces of wizard coins were specially made for the scene, and meticulously arranged on the set. That’s a lot of work to create money that has no real-world value!