Movie making is an art, not a science. It is nearly impossible to create a perfect film. As with any art form, there are thousands of subjective decisions that add up to create one cinematic experience.
Whether with factual inaccuracies in films about real-life events, continuity errors, or accidentally capturing a crew member’s equipment on screen, there are tons of small details that can only be avoided by the most meticulous of filmmakers. While many of these common mistakes are small and don’t distract from the overall experience of the film, there are some that appear glaringly obvious once seen.
For decades many of these mistakes were only noticed by those with a fine attention to detail. The arrival of the internet however, has lead to the creation of entire databases that are dedicated to catching movie mistakes. This crowdsourced effort effectively eliminated any hope for filmmakers to hide their errors.
Here are 15 Unforgivable Movie Mistakes You Can’t Unsee.
15. Pretty Woman – Julia Robert’s croissant turns into a pancake
Making decisions early in the morning can be tough. If you’re just waking up, it’s difficult to decide simple things like what to eat for breakfast. Would you rather try the savory flavor of a croissant or the sweet flavor of a pancake?
Julia Roberts’ character, Vivian, didn’t have to make that decision in Pretty Woman. The morning after Vivian’s first night at the hotel while she is having breakfast with Edward, a croissant is clearly what she starts eating when their conversation starts. The camera then cuts back and forth between them as they converse, with Vivian now holding a pancake. This isn’t the only continuity error in the film. Later on, Edward’s tie has a bad habit of tying and untying itself, and Vivian’s walkman hops back and forth.
14. Reservoir Dogs – Marvin Nash’s handcuffs move from back to front several times
Quentin Tarantino is a meticulous filmmaker. Not only does he have great attention to detail while writing and directing his films, but he often has a hand in every phase of production. However, he is not perfect. Several obvious gaffs can be seen in his 1992 breakout film, Reservoir Dogs.
The most notorious of the films multiple mistakes can be seen when they bring Marvin Nash to be tortured. At the beginning of the scene, his hands are cuffed behind his back. They start kicking him and his hands are then seen cuffed in front. Then, they switch back just a few moments later and his hands are behind his back again.
The number of mistakes can be attributed to either the film’s low budget or that Tarantino was a relatively young director at the time. Regardless, Reservoir Dogs remains one of the great films of the decade.
13. The Dark Knight Rises – The word “heist” is misspelled in a newspaper headline
Spellcheck is a wonderful thing. Without it, most of us would probably be writing at an elementary school level (if not worse). That little squiggly red line apparently wasn’t available for the design team who were working on The Dark Knight Rises, however.
As Bruce Wayne searches through old newspapers with a microfiche reader to gain insight to the mysterious cat burglar who stole his fingerprint, he comes across a newspaper headline that reads; “Police Suspect ‘Cat’ Burglar in Jewel Hiest”. It’s easy to miss at first, but the headline clearly reads, “Hiest” rather than “Heist”. Obviously this was an image created specifically for the film and is the mistake of the filmmakers.
12. Gladiator – Visible gas canister on the back of a chariot
Driving a chariot must have been incredibly difficult, a sort of Formula 1 of ancient Rome, but with significantly more bloodshed and loss of life.
The intensity of this kind of combat can be seen in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. In the “Battle of Carthage” in the Colosseum, one of the chariot drivers decided they needed a little extra juice to edge the competition. In the scene, one of the chariots loses a wheel and is turned over. One of the riders goes flying as does a piece of cloth on the back of the chariot. Once the dust settles you can see a gas cylinder strapped to the back.
11. Frozen – Elsa’s hair goes through her arm
Disney’s Frozen was a groundbreaking film for animation. On top of being an overwhelming box office success, it pioneered technology that revolutionized computer animation. However as with the other entries, it is not mistake free.
As Elsa sings her famous song “Let It Go”, she pulls her hair into a long braid going down her back. As she’s singing, she pulls it with her left hand from behind her to her front. However, the end doesn’t flip over her shoulder, she just pulls it straight through to the other side without going over the top. Her hair simply goes through her body.
10. The Empire Strikes Back – Han Solo’s jacket magically appears
The Empire Strikes Back is considered by many to be the greatest movie in a trilogy of great movies. It’s the perfect kind of movie magic that captures the hearts of almost everyone who sees it. It would appear that some of the movie’s “magic” rubbed off on one of its characters.
When one of the stormtroopers unties Han Solo before he is put into carbonite toward the end of the movie, Han’s jacket magically appears and disappears. In the wide shots he is wearing a white shirt, but, when the camera moves in, the color and texture of his jacket can easily be distinguished. This is fixed to an extent on the DVD, where the jacket is lightened to almost match his shirt, but it’s still shiny like leather.
9. The Avengers – Captain America’s suit repairs itself
Making a big budget comic book movie is difficult. You have to find the perfect balance between satisfying the needs of loyal comic book fans without distancing mass audiences. It can be a fine line to tread, but The Avengers does it better than most.
Even though it is a great movie, there are multiple mistakes throughout, the most obvious of which is during the big battle against the Chitauri. During the battle, Captain America is zapped with a blaster bolt. When Thor helps him to his feet the audience can see quite a bit of damage to Cap’s suit. There’s significant damage done just below the star on his right-hand side. Apparently, you can add “very fast tailor” to the list of Captain America’s abilities, because later on, after Iron Man destroys the Chitauri ship with the nuke, the damage is completely gone.
8. Grease- Waitress misses light switch but lights turn off anyway
Grease is a classic film and is loved by millions, but it is absolutely littered with mistakes. IMDb lists 47 mistakes, an average of one mistake every 2.3 minutes. Most of these mistakes are small continuity errors, a character is holding something they previously set down or two characters instantly switch positions in the choreography, but we’ll focus on the most hilariously obvious one.
In the soda shop, the waitress turns off the lights with her elbow because her hands are full. Everybody has done this at some point in their lives, but in the movie, she misses the light switch by 6 inches. Despite obviously missing the switch, the lights turn off anyway, and there is a wonderful half second in which the actress isn’t sure if she should stop the scene or keep going. Ultimately she keeps going and the result is a hilarious movie error.
7. The Wizard of Oz – Dorothy not wearing ruby slippers
The ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz are one of the most iconic movie props ever used. They are so famous, in fact, that they were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in 2005. This led to an anonymous donor offering a $1 million reward for information leading to their return.
This wasn’t the first time that the ruby slippers disappeared. During the scene when Dorothy and Scarecrow are fighting with the trees, Scarecrow says “I’ll show you how to get apples” and he gets hit by the apples. In the very next shot, a quick view of Dorothy reveals she is wearing black shoes, not her ruby slippers which she is supposed to have worn the entire time.
6. Terminator 2 – Windshields fall off and reappear
Like the aforementioned Empire Strikes Back, Terminator 2: Judgment Day is the best movie in a very famous series of movies. Also like Empire Strikes Back, it was also a formative movie for many of the people who saw it. It’s incredibly ambitious, but its ambition led to a pair of similar mistakes.
In the scene in which the T-1000 takes over a helicopter, the T-1000 punches his body through the helicopter’s window to get inside. An instant later, the hole is gone and the windshield is perfectly intact.
5. A New Hope – Stormtrooper hits head with audible “thump” when entering room
Most of the mistakes on this list have been continuity errors or problems that appeared in editing. In the original Star Wars movie, now called A New Hope, the mistake had a little bit more of a slapstick element to it.
When the stormtroopers break into the control room, the stormtrooper on the right of the screen hits his head on the door frame. It’s easy to miss the first time you see it, but once it’s noticed it becomes impossible to miss. Lucasfilm is also willing to laugh at itself, as the DVD release includes added an audible thump when contact is made.
This mistake is so memorable that certain fans have even built conspiracy theories around it. The most hilarious theory posits that the scarring on Snoke’s face was caused by him hitting his head on a door frame as a young stormtrooper.
4. Clueless – side mirror falls off car then magically reappears
Clueless gave some fantastic actors their first opportunities on the big screen. It was Paul Rudd’s first major role and opened doors for Donald Faison and Alicia Silverstone. It was also a box office and critical success and maintains a well-regarded cult status to this day.
Like so many other films on this list, however, it is not immune to errors, the most obvious of which happens in the scene in which Cher takes her driving exam. During the test, she is told to merge into the right lane and accidentally runs into a parked car, knocking off her side mirror. The instructor then tells her to pull over and when she turns the corner, the mirror is back when it cuts to a wide shot of the jeep.
3. Bambi – A baby raccoon teleports across the screen
Bambi is a very personal movie for a lot of people. For some, it was their first confrontation with the reality of death, and it remains one of Disney’s greatest accomplishments.
The animators at Disney had some prior experience working with animals, as seen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, but they wanted to make some improvements. Disney hired wildlife painters as consultants, animators often visited the Los Angeles Zoo, and there was even a miniature zoo set up in the Disney offices.
Despite these efforts, they couldn’t prevent the most simple of mistakes. After the great fire scene, there is a raccoon that drags her baby to shore and begins cleaning it. A few seconds later the baby jumps across to the other side of his father and siblings, but the mother does not stop licking.
2. Titanic – Jack Dawson mentions a lake that was built five years after his death
For over 12 years Titanic was the highest-grossing movie of all time. It took an incredible amount of effort from the filmmakers to get this epic tale to film. Because of the ambition of the project, some mistakes were inevitable. Unfortunately there were more mistakes then anticipated. According to IMDb, there are 254 known mistakes in Titanic – 75 continuity errors, 59 factual errors, and 13 instances of visible crew or equipment.
One glaring factual error that has been acknowledged by Cameron happens in the scene where Rose is threatening to jump into the Atlantic. Jack tells Rose he went ice fishing on Lake Wissota, a man-made lake in Wisconsin near Chippewa Falls (where Jack grew up). However, the lake was only filled with water in 1918, when a power company built a dam on the Chippewa River, six years after the Titanic sank.
1. Inglorious Basterds – Nazi officer has badge that appears and disappears
The beginning of Inglorious Basterds is spectacular. It opens with one of the greatest scenes Quentin Tarantino ever created and follows it up with a stunning tribute to many of Tarantino’s favorite movie genres. Once the movie’s characters and premise have been established, we get the first scene with the titular Basterds.
After ambushing a group of Nazi soldiers, the Basterds interrogate them for information. One of the soldiers, the Nazi officer Feldwebel has a badge over his left breast pocket. As he is questioned by Lt. Aldo Raine, the badge appears in every shot of the Feldwebel. Once he refuses to give up any information the infamous Bear Jew emerges and beats the officer to death with a baseball bat. After Lt. Raine finishes his questioning, Feldwebel’s badge disappears from every solo shot of the officer but reappears in wider shots.
Did you catch any other movie mistakes that we missed? Let us know in the comments.
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