7 Movies That Put Insane Work Into Details You Didn't Notice

#4. Stanley Kubrick's Entire Filmography

As we've mentioned before, Stanley Kubrick was kind of a tough guy to work with and/or be murdered by. His attention to detail is legendary, and even though it's hard to argue with his results (nine of his 12 movies appear in the IMDb top 250), sometimes the crazy ends don't justify the batshit means.

For example, a scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey takes place on the moon. No, they didn't film it on the moon, silly! They filmed it on Earth; it's just that nobody told Kubrick that. He insisted that all of the equipment on screen be built to actually work on the actual moon anyway.


Ask the Internet and it will provide: The full transcript of how to use a space toilet.

Likewise, the B-52 bomber he constructed as a set for Dr. Strangelove was described by some U.S. Air Force personnel as "absolutely correct," which worried them a bit, since the B-52 was still totally classified at that point.


"The bombs actually will not work without a cowboy."

But possibly the strangest and most unnecessary detail Kubrick ever insisted upon was the war room in Dr. Strangelove. While the set was being constructed, he decided (on what we'll call a Kubrickian whim) that the top of the table should be covered in green baize. "It should be like a poker table," he said, "there's the President, the generals and the Russian Ambassador playing a game of poker for the fate of the world."

Which would be totally reasonable and merely representative of his keen eye for detail and metaphor ... if the film weren't shot entirely in black and white.


That's a very green-looking black, though.

#3. The Matrix

One of the first lessons we learn about the Matrix is that anybody can be an agent. Morpheus teaches this to Neo via a training program, wherein Keanu becomes distracted by a sexy woman in a red dress, who taps into our most primal wetmares by gender-morphing into Elrond and then shooting him in the face.


Your boner should have taken the blue pill.

But Neo, like every man, was predestined to fail this one: They're wandering through some kind of business district, and every pedestrian is in a boring, drab suit, save for that pretty girl. Of course he's going to focus on her and notice the agent. We, the audience, only passed the test because we were once removed, and could view the scene objectively.

Except we didn't pass, either. Not at all. Because we didn't notice that every person in that scene is a doppelganger:


A frumpy doppelganger.

We could write that off as repeating an extra for a different shot, if it weren't for this ...


Two blonde women on either side of Neo, two sailors in the back.

The truly crazy part is that this wasn't CGI: the Wachowski's spent two whole days in Sydney trying to hunt down and cast real identical twins just for this scene. The idea was to show the viewer that Mouse, who created the code, was a lazy programmer and copy/pasted a bunch of characters instead of designing unique people. But really, since basically nobody in the audience noticed the clone armies either, it just proved that God could've gotten away with a whole lot less work by simply palette-swapping humanity. Turns out we would've been mostly cool with it, so long as there were hot girls in red dresses strutting about.

#2. Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters may be the perfect genre comedy. A ludicrous premise, great comedic actors and lots of improv -- those were the cornerstones of this classic. Except there are three things missing from that list: Research, realism and detail.

Wait, what, in Ghostbusters?


Do not stick marshmallow fluff in the microwave, kids.

Yep: As an audience, we all thought that Bill Murray and the rest of the cast were just making up gibberish for their supernatural scenes, but it turns out that most of the film is based on the actual paranormal research of comedian Dan Aykroyd.

According to the DVD commentary, Peter Venkman's treatment of Dana is actual advice for treating a possessed individual (it's all about maintaining control over the demon inside), and even the technobabble was real: The word "ectoplasm" predates the film, and was first coined by a Nobel Prize-winning physician. It referred to "a substance exuded from spiritual mediums to facilitate spirits' contact with the living world."


It's basically dimensional lubricant.

Why, in the book A History of Ghosts: The True Story of Seances, Mediums, Ghosts and Ghostbusters, written by Peter Aykroyd, you can learn about the history of the methods that the Ghostbusters use in the film, and keen eyes will also observe that holy shit Dan Aykroyd's father wrote a book about being an actual ghost buster.

Amazon
With a cover cameo by a half melted Stay Puft man.

That's right: Dan Aykroyd, Blues Brother and Conehead, is actually a second-generation demon hunter, like a Van Helsing or a Simon Belmont or a real-life Dean Winchester from Supernatural.

Substantially less dreamy, of course, but we can't all have CW cheekbones, can we?

#1. Akira Kurosawa's Entire Filmography

Legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa's strategy for filmmaking goes something like this: People can't just pretend to be something else; you need to trick them into thinking everything is real.

filmreference
"I don't know what the fuck these 'actors' are, I just want them off my set."

Toward this end, in his movie Red Beard, Kurosawa had the hospital set fully stocked with medical supplies -- even the drawers and cupboards, which, despite never being opened on camera or even mentioned by the characters, were nonetheless expensively, thoroughly, authentically stocked with pills. Kurosawa once dyed an entire town's water supply black just so the rain would look better on camera. If you were featured in one of Kurosawa's movies, you could expect to shoot inside the real, period-appropriate houses he'd have built, wear the real, period-appropriate clothing (that you were expected to live in even while not actively filming) and memorize the complete dossier on your character's back story, even if you only had a couple of lines. Oh, and you should also be prepared to get shot at with real arrows.


"Of course he's dead. I'm a director, not a goddamn liar."

That part went without saying, right? It sure did to Toshiro Mifune, who, in the final scene of Throne of Blood, was shot at by real arrows that landed inches away from him.

It's like nobody told Kurosawa that movies were just pretend, and so he was attempting to travel through time via sheer earnestness.

Wikipedia
"If only real life was as horrifying as film."

J. F. Sargent blogs, tweets and is the managing editor of the political website PCulpa.com, which you can write for if you fool him into thinking you're smart (which isn't hard).

For more details that you glossed over, check out 9 Video Game Easter Eggs That Took Years to Find and 10 Mind-Blowing Easter Eggs Hidden in Famous Albums.

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