There are plenty of articles and videos and even TV programmes dedicated to showing you mistakes in films. There are plenty; even big budget Hollywood films with entire job roles dedicated to continuity and accuracy, perfection is an incredibly high standard to demand. Mistakes get made and there’s nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, there are some mistakes in films with enough evidence to point to them being deliberate and clever details.
Bear in mind there are some spoilers ahead!
Pulp Fiction’s bullet holes
A pivotal scene in Pulp Fiction involves a man springing out of a bathroom and unloading a gun at Jules and Vincent. Unharmed, they shoot him and look in amazement at the bullet holes behind them. The mistake is, the bullet holes were there the whole time!
This works perfectly, though. Some are even behind where the two were standing so couldn’t have been misses. It makes much more sense that the gun fired no bullets and the characters simply hadn’t looked at the wall behind them yet.
It’s Tarantino; he wasn’t a huge star at this point so mistakes would be easy to make and hard to fix, but also he’s known for complicated points and being a film genius who might put in small details like that. Either way, it’s amusing to think of Jules’ religious epiphany about a bullet-bending miracle actually being caused by a lack of bullets entirely.
The Shining’s geographical weirdness
Kubrick is famous for not making sense and not giving a single damn about it. The Shining is no different, with most of the plot’s event happening without much explanation. While people are content to argue about WHY Jack/Johnny goes mad in the first place and needing multiple close watches to even understand the title, the geography often gets called a mistake.
The maze that is a major part of the end is huge and right beside the hotel doesn’t show up in earlier shots of the hotel. The window’s in the Torrence’s suite mean the room has to be a corner room, but lo and behold when Danny climbs out of the window we see that is isn’t. The huge ballroom cannot feasibly fit into the hotel.
Considering the other impossible geography such as rooms that would overlap and windows in impossible places, they’re almost certainly deliberate. The main goal of The Shining was clearly not to scare the viewer in a way they can logically think through, but to give an incomprehensible sense of wrongness. The impossible layout could be a series of oversights but still gives a strong feeling of the Overlook Hotel’s paranormal qualities.
Inception’s borrowed totem
In Inception, the team have personal ‘totems’ to help them know when they’re in a dream and when they’re in real life. No-one else can touch the totem or know how it works; this ensures it works differently in dreams than it does in real life. Cobb tells the viewer (via telling Ariadne) that his totem is the spinning top, and it belonged to his wife Mal before she killed herself. The mistake is that his totem won’t work because it’s not really his, and it’s clear that it falls over in the real world and spins forever in dreams.
This, of course, could be a mistake he is making in-universe, but it could be a deliberate diversion. Cobb is clearly paranoid; he checks his totem more than any other character and is continually worried that what he thinks is real life is a dream. For someone who misses his wife so much, it makes sense that he’d keep as much as he can of her, and for someone so paranoid it makes sense he’d keep not only the way his totem works a secret but even what it is.
So if Mal’s spinning top is a red herring and his totem is secret – adding another layer to Cobb’s character – what is his totem? It could be his wedding ring, which isn’t always visible; it could be Mal herself, as her being dead means she can only show up in dreams; it could be his children’s faces, which he doesn’t see until the very end. It could even be something he hides from the audience…
Jurassic Park and the Inaccurate Dinosaurs
Firstly, while the dilophosaurus is from the early Jurassic period and the brachiosaurus is from the late Jurassic period, the velociraptor, triceratops and tyrannosaurus are all from the late Cretaceous period. This millennia time gap aside, the dinosaurs don’t even look like the ones they’re supposed to be. Worst is the velociraptor, which is styled after the bigger, earlier deinonychus. While whether or not tyrannosaurus had feathers is still a hotly debated topic, the fact that these supposed scientists don’t blink at the blatant misnaming of species is odd.
Even the Jurassic dinosaurs are overtly uncharacteristic, brachiosaurus rearing up when it’s always been known they wouldn’t have been able to or dilophosaurus spitting venom despite that idea being a complete invention of the film. Further than this, DNA degrades over time and would, even in ideal conditions, only last a maximum of six million years. The enormous extinction event that killed the late Cretaceous dinosaurs was… sixty-six million years ago, long enough for perfectly maintained DNA samples to degrade to nothing eleven times other.
The theory is that the dinosaurs being cloned is a big fat lie, not from the movie makers but the park owners in universe. Cobbling together the DNA of various current animals, they created brand new animals that matched the publics idea of what certain dinosaurs would be. Easily named, big ticket dinosaurs like tyrannosaurus and triceratops. The scientists aren’t even there to check the safety of the park, but to check the believability! If the awe-inspiring idea could stop real palaeontologists from putting the facts together, the park’s creations would definitely trick the public.
Many films’ fainting henchmen
There are so many film mistakes that are henchman in group fights just falling down unhit. The background actor or stunt actor, skipped in the fight or in the wrong place, knows they need to die but won’t be hit and just fall over. There’s one in a Batman film, for example, as well as smaller budget films where there isn’t time to reshoot. There’s at least one in the Bond franchise.
While this is obviously not a deliberate decision but a best-of-a-bad-situation compromise by an actor, it might be that the character themself is falling down without being hit too. Consider being a henchman at the edge of a fight, slowly realising that you’re all fighting a legendary hero or surprisingly amazing fighter. Your coworkers are being smacked unconscious or even killed, and you have no chance or doing any better. You just fall down when you hope the hero isn’t looking, and hope to claim being knocked out by the hero later, if you even have a boss to answer to later.
This is referenced in Austin Powers when his father fights the henchmen and tells one, who hasn’t even got a nametag, that he should just lie down without a fight. He does. It’s a funny scene and, with the sheer amount of self-aware action films being made, there must be at least one film with a deliberate falling-unhit henchman for this reason.
Are there any others you’ve noticed or been told are mistakes, that you have a theory or explanation of them as not mistakes? Do you know a film where a henchman character falls down without being hit and it’s clearly supposed to happen? Do you just want to rant and rave about one of the films I mentioned? Leave a comment.