Take Two: Continuity Errors in Twelve Famous Movie Scenes
by Vicki Santillano
It’s hard to imagine that a five-minute scene in a movie could take well over half a day to shoot, but that’s part of the magic that happens behind the camera. Actors repeat each moment over and over so that the director can compile the best shots and present the audience with what looks like one fluid scene. But because so much happens in between each take—makeup people retouching the actors, crew members repositioning equipment and props, and so forth—rarely has a movie ever been made that doesn’t contain at least a few continuity errors. In fact, some of the most memorable scenes from famous movies have surprisingly glaring mistakes—once you know to look out for them.
When Vivian joins Edward for breakfast in the hotel room, she grabs a croissant. In the next shot, she’s taking a second bite of a pancake instead. A few second later, the pancake reappears, but it looks like she’s barely eaten any of it.
Watch the windshield in the scene where (spoiler alert!) Sonny and his car are shot up at the toll booth. The entire car is riddled with bullet holes and the windshield’s shattered, but a few moments later, the car is shown again with an undamaged windshield.
If you look closely at the back of a chariot depicted during the Battle of Carthage scene, you can spot a big gas tank and some rather modern piping covered only somewhat by a blanket.
The Wizard of Oz
Dorothy’s hair noticeably changes length when she first encounters the Scarecrow. At first her pigtails are about shoulder length, and then they reach closer to her chest. The length continues alternating throughout the scene.
Also pay attention to Dorothy’s shoes when she and the Scarecrow are fighting with the apple trees—her famous ruby-red shoes inexplicably become black.
The Princess Bride
Remember when Buttercup pushes Wesley down the hill, realizes that he’s actually her true love, and then jumps down after him? Well, it probably wouldn’t shock you to know that a stunt double performed that scene, but the fact that you can see him—mustache and all—rolling down the hill if you pause the movie just right is pretty surprising (and hilarious).
Back to the Future
In this movie, Marty writes a letter to Dr. Emmett Brown, telling him about an impending disaster. But the letter changes dramatically from when it’s first written to when Doc reads it later. The “d” in “disaster” goes from uppercase to lowercase, “friend” suddenly becomes underlined, and the word “terrible” moves to the last line—not to mention that the handwriting’s pretty different.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
When Captain Jack Sparrow shouts, “On deck, you scabrous dogs” at the end of the movie, you can spot a pretty odd-looking pirate, aka a crew member in the wrong spot, on the left-hand side of the frame. He’s wearing a white T-shirt with rolled-up sleeves, a cowboy hat, and sunglasses. At least he’s not looking directly at the camera; he’s staring out to sea, probably wondering when they’re going to start filming.
After the soda shop closes up for the night and Frenchie’s sitting at the table, the other waitress, Vi, comes in and they have a short exchange. When Vi goes to leave, she tries to flip the light switch with her elbow because her hands are full. The lights go off, even though her elbow’s obviously inches away from the actual switch.
During the scene in which Linus and Rusty have a chat outside the Bellagio, watch what Rusty holds in his hand. It starts out as a cocktail glass full of shrimp, turns into a plate of food, and then transforms into a glass once again.
The agents in the movie wear reflective glasses the whole time, which makes for some interesting goofs if you watch closely. For example, when the agents interrogate Neo and he jumps out of his seat, the camera zooms in on Agent Smith’s face and reveals Neo, still sitting across from him, reflected in his sunglasses.
A similar error happens later in the movie when the agents go to the rooftop to find Neo and Trinity: you can distinctly see a whole crew of people reflected in their lenses.
The Dark Knight
Speaking of interrogations and reflections, look at the mirror on the right side of the screen when Batman throws the Joker up against the wall. You can see a bright blue light coming off the camera, and a dark figure who’s probably the cameraman.
The mistake in this movie is possibly the worst—and funniest—one of all. In the battle scene with Creepy Thin Man, Dylan (played by Drew Barrymore) calls her fellow Angel Alex the name of the actress who played her: “Lucy!”
If you didn’t catch any of these cinematic mistakes the first time around, don’t fret—you were probably enjoying the scenes themselves too much to notice, which is the point of watching movies in the first place. But I bet it’d be fun to see them again, this time just to spot the continuity issues. If one scene can contain such laughingly obvious bloopers, who knows what gems you might spot in the rest of the film?