Another Top 10 Amazing Small Details in Movies

VOICE OVER: Matthew Wende
Written by Owen Maxwell

These tiny details may have been completely missed by most audience members, but seeing them will shock you and reveal so much about your favourite movies! WatchMojo presents our second list for the Top 10 Amazing Small Details Most People Didn't Catch in Movies! But what details didn't you see? The foreshadowing Xs hidden throughout "The Departed", the hidden Tyler Durden frames spliced into "Fight Club", or the truth behind Hannibal Lecter's medication? Watch to find out!

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Sometimes, the tiny stuff makes all the difference. Welcome to and today we’re counting down our picks for Another Top 10 Amazing Small Details in Movies.

For this list, we’re looking at little movie details that made all the difference in helping to craft believable, textured cinematic worlds. As some of these details are plot related, a SPOILER ALERT is in order. If you don’t spot a detail you thought should be on here, be sure to check out our first video of the Top 10 Amazing Small Details in Movies.

#10: Zero Gravity Toilet Instructions
“2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)

Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece was so rigorously planned; even the toilet humor is precise. At one point, we see instructions for a space toilet, but the text is virtually illegible at its on-screen size. However, since it’s part of a Kubrick production, you can bet these instructions are thorough and detail-oriented. Clearly shown in “The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey” companion book, the document consists of ten steps as brutal as any real-world instruction guide. The crazy thing is… the fictional toilet for which these were made never even appears onscreen. But hey, this is Kubrick we’re talking about - a man known for his obsessive attention to detail.

#9: Valak’s Name
“The Conjuring 2” (2016)

We catch a few onscreen glimpses of the demon nun Valak before the end of this horror sequel, but it’s actually hiding in plain sight during the rest of the film: in fact, its name appears in their home multiple times; silently haunting the family. Subtly creeping into their kitchen, the name looms in crafts behind both Ed and Lorraine. The letters show up again on the family’s bookshelf and even on handmade wristbands. Even more chilling is the fact that the name isn’t even stated until much later in the film, meaning the demon is teasing the family throughout the movie. This simple touch added layers to the horror and amped up the scares on repeat viewings.

#8: Rorschach Unmasked
“Watchmen” (2009)

Despite being known for his mask, Rorschach appears onscreen without it more than a couple of times throughout “Watchmen” - particularly in extended editions. Early on, his scowling self can be seen trying to buy magazines from a street vendor. In another instance, he’s staring down Dan when he passes them in the street, and his steely demeanor leaves people spooked, mask on or off. Subtle and seemingly benign though his presence might be, it’s a reminder that Rorschach is vigilant - he’s always out there, roaming the streets of his city.

#7: Czech Soldiers
“Saving Private Ryan” (1998)

Unable to understand two surrendering German soldiers, Allied forces shoot them mercilessly. The two soldiers then make jokes about what the victims said, having clearly become numb to the violence. Due to the lack of subtitles, most audience members didn’t catch what the two men were saying either, but they weren’t German at all - they were Czech. And if you understand Czech, you would’ve heard them saying something like “Please don’t shoot me, I am Czech, I didn’t kill anyone.” So you see, when properly translated, this scene becomes much darker. It’s a moment that highlights the horrors of war - both the disconnect felt between the nations, and the evils each side is capable of.

#6: The Ring
“Inception” (2010)

Though innocuous at first glance, Cobb’s wedding ring adds further depth to this dream thriller. Its prevalence throughout the film has actually led some to hypothesize that it’s his real totem. Upon further review however, you’ll notice that the ring only appears in dream sequences. Armed with that information, many fans have to come to interpret it as a “construct of his subconscious” - another projection of his grief and inability to let go of that which he’s lost. Before you rush to rewatch the ending though, you should know that his ring finger has been cleverly blocked in the scene. Mr. Nolan… you are one sneaky filmmaker.

#5: Window to Nowhere
“The Shining” (1980)

Adding to the supernatural scares of the Overlook Hotel is the fact that its layout doesn’t always make sense. Not one to make mistakes, Stanley Kubrick created these spatial inconsistencies intentionally to heighten the feelings of distress. For example, there’s a window in the office where Jack is first interviewed for the job. But later scenes clearly show a hallway running behind the office. This, along with other unexplainable doors, have led many people to point out that the hotel’s layout is impossible. According to executive producer Jan Harlan, the filmmaker did this on purpose - wanting the hotel to be just as much of a labyrinth as the hedge maze outside.

#4: Deadly Oranges
“The Godfather” (1972)

With this design choice, Francis Ford Coppola stumbled upon subtle but serious foreshadowing. Most deaths in this crime film come with oranges. From small fry to mob bosses, just about anyone onscreen near an orange bites the dust. Don Corleone himself is both shot and suffers a heart attack around the fruit. While most people have viewed it as subtle genius, production designers admitted orange was just a nice contrasting color for their muted visuals. While they weren’t initially narrative tools, Coppola confessed to using oranges intentionally in the sequels.

#3: MAOIs & Chianti
“The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)

Hannibal Lecter’s taste for human meat made his choice of side dishes seem more classy than important. As a mentally unstable criminal however, fava beans, chianti and liver would not actually bode well for his medication. Diligently noted by Reddit user “mrcchapman”, antidepressants known as MAOIs are often used to treat personality disorders. To avoid complications, takers of monoamine oxidase inhibitors have to avoid high-tyramine foods like red wines, fava beans and of course...liver. More than just a scary story then, his tale of mixing these foods would seem to imply that Lecter is not taking his medication. Powerfully subtle, this touch made Hannibal simultaneously elegant and horrific, while also giving more insight into his character.

#2: Tyler Splices
“Fight Club” (1999)

When we learn about Tyler Durden’s job as a projectionist, we also learn that he likes splicing frames of porn into kids’ movies. Funnily enough, this is a not-so-subtle hint that some similarly subliminal splicing has been going on before our eyes as well: Tyler actually appears multiple times before we meet him, with his secret identity foreshadowed by some quick shots. If you watch closely during the narrator’s worst bouts of insomnia, Tyler flashes almost unnoticeably onscreen for a single frame at a time. Whether he’s at work, the doctor’s, and even his group meetings, Tyler makes himself known, albeit subliminally, but to great effect nonetheless.

Before we get to our top picks, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “V”s

“V for Vendetta” (2005)

- Dizzying Hair

“Vertigo” (1958)

- The Names of the Bars Match the Movie’s Plot Points

“The World’s End” (2013)

#1: X Marks the Spot
“The Departed” (2004)

First time around, many of the deaths in Martin Scorsese’s crime drama are pretty surprising. If you pay very close attention however, you’ll notice that each death is telegraphed to the audience, sometimes repeatedly. Using Xs hidden in the background or foreground of the film, Scorsese marks cops and gang members to die. Sometimes the Xs show up moments before a death; sometimes the characters end up laid out in an X-shape themselves. By using this motif, Scorsese was honoring one of his favorite films: 1932’s “Scarface” similarly used Xs. And it’s details like these that turn repeat viewings into a visual hunt, and retroactively make a movie more fun to watch.
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