If the Internet is to be trusted (and we don't see why it shouldn't be), the best way to solve a movie mystery once and for all is to argue about it incessantly in blog posts, message boards and chatrooms. If you don't believe us, do a Google search for "Inception ending" and see what comes up (we dare you). Or, simply wait 10 minutes after this article is posted and scroll down to see what our own comments section is saying.
Some movie and TV mysteries, however, weren't intended to be mysteries at all, and often are just the result of the director getting cute at the last minute. These mysteries are often plainly explained in the script, and while the answers aren't always definite, they are surprising. Like ...
7Pulp Fiction -- What's in the Briefcase?
In case you forgot, the beginning of Pulp Fiction isn't just John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson driving around talking about foot massages and foreign fast food. They're out for a briefcase filled with ... orange light, apparently.
And the perfect British spy novel to read on the toilet
Many, many movie fans have seen the long, drawn-out theories about the film in general, and that's not even touching what's inside the briefcase. A popular theory says it's Marsellus Wallace's soul, while others claim that it's simply whatever you want it to be.
A posthumous L. Ron Hubbard novel? Thetans? Tropicana?
According to Tarantino, it's just a MacGuffin, something to drive the plot along. Meaning that it's not important, so really, we shouldn't even be talking about this.
What the Script Says:
But Tarantino's co-writer, Roger Avary, says that when they wrote the script for Pulp Fiction, it was diamonds.
Not soul-capturing diamonds. Not a giant diamond that shoots lasers. Just plain old diamonds. Why didn't they just show that? Because Tarantino had just used a case of diamonds as a major plot device in Reservoir Dogs, and he and Avary agreed that it was "too boring and predictable" to do that again. So they decided not to show them, thus giving the whole thing an air of mystery.
"I'm getting tired of my diamond mountain. Bring me a shrunken monkey brain!"
But they had to be hinting at something, right? Because of the orange glow that poured from the interior any time it was opened? Actually, that glow is nowhere in the script. Avary says: "...somebody had the bright idea (which I think was a mistake) of putting an orange lightbulb in there. Suddenly what could have been anything became anything supernatural. Didn't need to push the effect. People would have debated it for years anyway, and it would have been much more subtle."
Because Quentin Tarantino loves subtlety.
6The Sopranos Finale -- Did Tony Soprano Die?
The ending of The Sopranos is either the best or the worst series finale in television history, depending on whether the person you ask likes staring at a blank screen or not. The show ends with Tony Soprano and his family munching on onion rings in a diner, with a suspicious-looking guy in a Members Only jacket sitting nearby, then getting up to go to the bathroom. The last shot is of Tony's face looking up at the door as his daughter enters, and then ... nothing. Blackness.
And no comfort except for the last bars of Don't Stop Believin' echoing through your head
Creator David Chase refuses to reveal what happened after that. So ... does the black screen mean Tony took a bullet to the back of the head? Was the Members Only guy a hit man sent after Tony? A federal agent? Or just a guy with diarrhea who felt self-conscious about going into a restaurant only to use the crapper?
What the Script Says:
To our knowledge, the script for this episode has never been leaked or released. We haven't read a word of it.
But actor Matt Servitto has.
Along with a whole lot of scripts calling for "angry bald dude who can't take any more of this shit."
Servitto played FBI agent Harris for six seasons of The Sopranos, and after a cast screening of the last episode, he talked to reporters about the script, revealing that the final scene continued after the cut:
"In the script, the scene in the diner went a little further ... The gentleman sitting at the counter was much more mysterious, almost like he's walking to the table to shoot Tony, and then end of script."
So, wait, the guy comes out of the bathroom and walks toward Tony? That would have made the scene like 90 percent less ambiguous, and according to Servitto, that's exactly what was supposed to happen. He told another reporter: "The scene cut as the guy was advancing towards him, as if he was about to shoot Tony. It was, I think, less ambiguous that Tony was going to get shot."
"He was also carrying a huge bazooka, but I have no idea what that means."
Of course, that doesn't mean it's 100 percent certain that the guy did shoot Tony. Maybe he was approaching him for a different reason. Maybe he wanted an onion ring. Either way, it's clear that this man was up to no good -- something the final version of the scene leaves out.