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 ...
#7. Pulp 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.
#6. The 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.
#5. Cast Away -- What Was in the FedEx Box?
All through the movie Cast Away, Tom Hanks' character (Chuck Noland, a FedEx worker stranded on a deserted island) holds on to a single unopened package: He resists the temptation to open it for four years, carries it with him when he sets off on a dangerous raft trip across the ocean, and finally delivers it at the end of the movie. And since there's nobody home at the time, we never find out what's inside.
But never mind -- it's the product placement that really matters
But the mystery of the package goes deeper than that -- for starters, there are two evocative angel wings drawn on the surface of the box. At the beginning of the movie, we see a woman in Texas welding giant wings out of metal and sending a similar package to a naked cowboy in Moscow. What the hell was in there?
A cult is in there. A naked winged cowboy cult
Robert Zemeckis has remained coy about it, sometimes joking that the package actually contained a waterproof satellite phone -- which for all we know might be a real possibility, since Chuck never opens it anywhere in the movie ...
What the Script Says:
... except in the deleted scene in the script where he totally does.
The third draftf of Cast Away has a few key differences from the finished movie: Wilson the volleyball is actually a soccer ball, Chuck's relationship with the Helen Hunt character is slightly different, and there's a lot more "insane guy on a raft talking to himself" dialogue.
He also called for Wilson for seven entire pages.
The package, however, is exactly the same as in the finished movie: the same angel wings, the same woman at the beginning, and the same insane resolution to deliver it no matter what. And then, on his 1,000th day on the island, Chuck goes "eh, what the hell" and opens the box. So what's inside? This:
"Oh, this would have made the last three years of crushingly lonely and desperate living somehow more bearable!"
Two bottles of salsa verde. Also, a note from a woman named Bettina begging her husband to come back, apparently hoping some spicy condiments will do the trick. Chuck looks at the bottles, reads the note, then puts everything back into the package and continues carrying it with him. It makes absolutely no difference. This could've perfectly been a deleted scene in the movie itself.
Via William Broyles
The draft clears up another mystery not everyone might have noticed: Why does Chuck drop off the package in a house in Texas if it was going on a plane headed outside the U.S.? Chuck's friends at FedEx actually tried to find the recipient but couldn't locate him, so Chuck decided to return the box to the person who sent it in the first place. At the end of this draft, Chuck talks to Bettina, who tells him that her husband (the naked cowboy from the beginning) was a jerk, and she doesn't mind that he never got the salsa.
On the other hand, the kid who didn't get his volleyball was completely devastated.
#4. Lost in Translation -- What Did Bill Murray's Character Whisper at the End?
In Lost in Translation Bill Murray plays, essentially, himself as a washed-up actor named Bob Harris on a business trip in Tokyo. (We'd like to point out that this is obviously not true to life, as Bill Murray remains the greatest actor in history.)
Forced to star in wacky Japanese commercials and sit through blisteringly weird interviews, Bill, er, Bob encounters Charlotte, a young, free spirited girl fresh out of college played by Scarlett Johansson. Over the next few days, they form a bond that has to end when Bob heads back to the good old USA. The film throws a lot of hints that Bob is in love with Charlotte, and she him, but, sadly, Charlotte is already married to John, played by the evil businessman from Avatar.
Avatar , like Lost in Translation, also featured culture
shock and alienation in a distant land, but with more blue people and tree-nuking.
In the end, Bob and Charlotte embrace one last time, he whispers something in her ear, and they part, leaving the audience to debate what, if any, future their relationship has.
What the Script Says:
Truth be told, Bob's whisper isn't even in the script. The plan all along was to have Bill Murray ad-lib it. But what is in the script is what's really going through Bob's head in their last few moments together.
Specifically, it says that Bob wants to tell Charlotte he loves her ... but he never does. Bob totally chickens out, they hug, and that's it.
To be honest, it's kind of amazing he showed that much restraint.
But what about the whisper? Now we know it wasn't anything romantic, but what did he say? Was it some truth about the universe? Some in-joke? "Want to go mess with random college students later?" Turns out, several people with way more time than us have attempted to decode the whisper using audio-processing software -- and some have gotten pretty close.
The first part could be anything, really, but after watching the video it's hard not to hear "... go to that man and tell him the truth, OK?" at the end. And that doesn't sound like something a guy would say to move a relationship forward, unless he's actually proposing a threesome. A threesome with the bad guy from Avatar.
"Scarlett, I'm leaving you. I got a better offer."