The process of filmmaking is extensive, complex, and ripe with potential for serious errors. Ever wonder why there are multiple “assistant directors” listed in the credits? Ever question what a script supervisor does? Because of the high risk of error, there are numerous positions on a movie set whose primary responsibility is to check for mistakes in continuity and consistency. Despite the team of individuals whose duty it is to account and report any of these occurrences, it is inevitable that some will slip through the cracks.
Some mistakes are worse than others. A particularly glaring series-wide error is Harry’s scar in the Harry Potter film franchise. Left? Right? Center? There was a a puzzling case of the teleporting facial disfigurement over the eight movies. For this list, the examples are contained to editing errors within a single film. Here are the 16 Worst Editing Mistakes In Modern Movies.
15. The Fellowship of the Ring – Car in the Background
This is a relatively minor mistake but it goes to show that – in the age of high definition and diehard fandoms – filmmakers have to be more thorough than ever. This error was spotted by viewers in theatrical release, and word of the oversight spread like wildfire.
It happens about a quarter of the way into the film; Sam tells Frodo that if he goes any further, it’ll be the furthest he’s ever been from home. The two Hobbits are in a meadow, and as the camera pans out, we can see a glimmer of chimney smoke in the upper right corner – and, surprisingly, something else. As fans quickly realized, it was the glint of light off of a car windshield, which can be seen driving along in the far background. The error went unnoticed by the film’s director, Peter Jackson, or any members of the crew. Due to the outcry from fans, the mistake was removed from the DVD release.
14. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Disappearing Sidewalk
This one is a bit more of a head-scratcher. During the final moments of the popular 1986 comedy classic, everybody’s least-favourite principal, Mr. Rooney, staggers across the lawn and onto the school bus. Or at least, it seems that way at first. As the bus pulls away, it’s clear that there is a sidewalk separating the grass from the road, yet in the shot prior, the lawn ends right at the street’s pavement, with only a small curb between.
Clearly the location was changed – or the direction of the shot significantly altered – and no one on the crew noticed the difference until it was too late. If you’re not paying close attention, it’s easy to miss, but for many, it’s a big “uh, what?” moment in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off‘s otherwise satisfying denouement.
13. Aladdin – Torn Underwear
This one is potentially very familiar to those who grew up in the golden age of Disney cartoons. Early on in Aladdin, as Jasmine rebukes suitor after suitor to the chagrin of her father and the triumph of little girls everywhere, one of her suitors has a close encounter with Rajah, Jasmine’s pet tiger. He proceeds to take a bite out of the backside of the suitor’s pants – and even rips off a bit of underwear, as we can see as the shot holds on Rajah. A piece of the telltale red-heart-patterned fabric is visible in Rajah’s mouth after the bite. However, when the shot cuts to the suitor’s behind, it’s clear the underwear in question is unripped and intact.
Maybe it’s an attempt to be family-friendly on Disney’s part, but it leaves many viewers questioning how the underwear magically stitched itself back together – or if, in fact, the suitor was wearing two pairs. The most likely conclusion is that it was a detail simply overlooked in editing.
12. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl – Cowboy Aboard the Ship
At the conclusion of the first Pirates of the Caribbean installment, Captain Jack Sparrow is reunited with his ship, The Flying Dutchman, and the rag-tag crew of miscreants he assembled earlier in the film. In this momentous finale, there’s a panning shot that goes over Captain Jack’s left shoulder right after he says to the crew, “On deck, you scabrous dogs!”
Looking closely, a man in a white shirt and white cowboy hat is visible looking off the ship towards the sea. Not only is he a sole cowboy lost amidst a crew of pirates, but his short-sleeve tee and sunglasses would imply an era of modernity post-dating the 18th century setting in Pirates of the Caribbean. Clearly, a member of the crew unwittingly got caught in the shot and somehow made it to the final cut, before being spotted by eagle-eyed YouTubers.
11. Ocean’s Eleven – Shrimp on Cocktail Glass/Plate
This error is only in the full screen version of Ocean’s Eleven. Linus and Rusty – two members of the heist team played by Matt Damon and Brad Pitt, respectively – are talking in the Bellagio’s Botanical Garden. A recurring gag with Rusty’s character throughout the Ocean’s series is that he is always eating something, and this scene is no exception.
Rusty is munching on shrimp from a cocktail glass – except as it cuts to another angle, the glass has somehow morphed into a plate. Going back to the previous angle, the plate becomes glass once more. Luckily for most, this back-and-forth isn’t visible in the widescreen version, but it can certainly be a source of distraction for those watching on full screen settings at home.
10. Teen Wolf – The Pants Mishap
It’s the end of the film. The Teen Wolf himself, Scott Howard, has just won the basketball game and the whole auditorium is an uproar; people in the stands are embracing and cheering, and a feel-good “you did it!” song is playing. However, something is amidst up in the bleachers – in the top left corner, an extra is seen with their pants down briefly, before quickly pulling them up. But the damage is done – the scene is notorious throughout the internet, and has even been parodied on one of Family Guy‘s Star Wars specials.
The general misconception here is that the extra is trying to flash the world for their fifteen seconds of fame, but there is definitely no indecent exposure here. Upon close inspection, all you can see is a bit of underwear – so modest, in fact, it’s hard to say whether the person knew their pants were undone until it was too late!
9. Clueless – Teleporting Mirror
Alicia Silverstone’s Cher Horowitz goes down in 1990s teen flick history as one of the most memorable female protagonists. Though shallow, oblivious, and over-the-top, Cher balances out her stereotypical rich girl qualities with a desire to bring happiness to the people around her, even if she is completely misguided about it.
In one scene from Clueless, Cher is attempting to pass her driving license test; she fails miserably, giving her passenger-seat instructor a white-knuckle ride as she rampages through Beverly Hills in her Jeep. At one point, she whizzes by a parked car, scraping up the side of her Jeep against the vehicle as she goes. In the shot, you can clearly see Cher’s passenger side mirror fly off in the impact. Moments later, as the Jeep comes to a stop around a corner, the side mirror is back in place. It’s either some puzzling sleight of hand, or an editing mistake overlooked by the film crew.
8. Pretty Woman – Croissant Turns to Pancake
This error occurs during a morning-after breakfast scene with Vivian and Edward in Pretty Woman. They’re sitting at a table, discussing what he does for a living. At the beginning of the exchange, we see Vivian eating a croissant. Inexplicably, it turns to a pancake in the next shot, before turning back into a croissant near the end.
It would be plausible to dismiss this as Vivian merely choosing to start eating a pancake instead, except that the pancake already has a bite in it – as if she had just bitten off a piece in the previous moment. As well, the shift between shots is too quick to legitimately dismiss it as her simply picking up and putting down the differing food items; she holds them both casually, and she’s never shown mid-motion.
Furthermore, she takes a second bite of the pancake twice. A bonus continuity error in this scene – Edward unfolds the paper at the beginning in the wide-shot, and then repeats the action in the mid-shot directly following!
7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Shirt Changes During Sleep
In the fifth Harry Potter installment, Harry is fighting an internal battle with Lord Voldemort, who has forged a connection directly into his mind. Throughout the film, Harry experiences nightmares where he is living out Lord Voldemort’s memories – either realistically or artificially, as manipulated by You-Know-Who.
The error in question occurs after a tense encounter with fellow a Gryffindor student; Harry goes to sleep and begins to have a nightmare about the Department of Mysteries. As he tosses and turns, living out the horrifying vision, it is clear Harry is wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt. When he finally wakes up, he’s suddenly changed into a darker henley shirt. This error results from another dream Harry has later in the film, where he is, in fact, wearing the henley shirt during his nightmare.
6. American Pie – Different Color Cups
This particularly memorable scene from the first American Pie movie is remembered less for this continuity error, and more for the fact that Stifler unknowingly ends up drinking a beer mixed with sperm. Before this incident, Stifler is making the moves on a girl in the upstairs bedroom during a house party.
Stifler ends up handing her the aforementioned beer, and it’s obvious that the cup is clear. As they talk, the shot changes to one where the top half of the cup is visible – except this time, it’s a solid blue cup. At the end of the scene, the cup changes back to clear. It’s only in that one moment that the slip-up occurs, but it’s enough to cause some eagle-eyed viewers to scratch their heads.
5. Gladiator – Gas Tank from the Future
A period piece on a scale such as Gladiator – even with $103 million dollar budget and a director like Ridley Scott at the helm – is bound have errors in editing, particularly when there is such a high risk of unwittingly revealing anachronisms. Such is the case during the Battle of Carthage scene; this is Maximus’ first battle won in the Colosseum, so it’s a big point moment in terms of plot development – the stakes are high, the energy is up, and the potential for error is met. When a chariot slides sideways, a blanket flies up to reveal a gas canister underneath. As far as history is concerned, there’s still a millennia or so before that kind of invention would come into vogue.
4. Pulp Fiction – Bullet Holes
Like any good Tarantino film, there is violence and gun-fire peppered throughout Pulp Fiction – meaning there is the potential for errors – audio/visual synchronicity, corralling the behaviour of extras (which can go hilariously wrong), and continuity mishaps. This most glaring oversight is during the shoot-out prior to the “miracle” speech given by Jules.
Jules and Vincent are shot at by a gunmen until he runs out of bullets – amazingly, they are unscathed; all the bullets have dislodged in the wall behind. However, the bullet holes behind the two were already present inthe wall in the previous shot. It’s unlikely that another gunman shot against that wall in the recent past of the movie, and even if that were the case, where are the additional bullet holes from this occurrence?
3. Die Another Day – Magically Healing Wounds
Though it’s certainly not considered one of the best Bond films in the franchise, one would at least hope the filmmakers would put the effort in to remedy any glaringly obvious errors in Die Another Day. Unfortunately, this rather large one slipped by unnoticed.
Leading up to the conclusion, Bond girl/NSA agent Jinx duels with, and ultimately comes out victorious against double agent Miranda Frost – but not without sustaining a pretty major injury. She is cut across the stomach, deeply enough to potentially scar, and certainly deep enough to take time and tending to heal. Strangely, in the next scene, Bond and Jinx share an intimate moment, where Jinx’s stomach is revealed perfectly healed – without even a sign of her previous injury.
2. Braveheart – White Car in the Highlands
Like Gladiator, Mel Gibson’s Braveheart has an increased likelihood of error due to its historical setting. For the diehard fan, Braveheart contains a plethora of goofs and editing mistakes in its lengthy three hour runtime. One particular editing error is the appearance of a white car in a ferocious and pivotal battle scene. As the enemy charges toward William Wallace and his Scottish clansmen, there is a flash of a white vehicle in the bottom left corner of the frame.
How this went unnoticed as a potential problem by the filmmakers is anyone’s guess. It certainly didn’t affect the intensity of the battling soldiers – but to the viewer with an eye for detail, it’s a strange distraction amidst the kilts and simple rolling hills.
1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day – Helicopter Glass Shatters and Reappears
For the most part, popular and critical opinion agrees – the second Terminator film is a worthy sequel to it’s highly successful predecessor. In one of the most dangerous and complex stunts in the film, the T-1000 jumps onto an in-flight helicopter and smashes the windshield to gain access. However, in the next shot, the windshield has repaired itself – thankfully for the T-1000, because it’d be understandably more difficult to commandeer a helicopter (at night) with a broken windshield.
There’s no explanation as to how or why the window repaired itself, and it’s a pretty glaring error – though if much of the $51 million dollar stunt and special effects budget had already been used to be prior to the discovery of the mistake, it’s understandable that the filmmakers would be hesitant to spend any more to correct the oversight.
Are there any glaring mistakes in modern movies that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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