There’s nothing better than a good, old fashioned mystery. Used to be that when someone asked the meaning behind a mystery, a bunch of people would argue over it suggesting things that they think are true but no one knew for sure. You would need to find the answer in a book somewhere. Sure, one of your buddies, Barry, for instance, would give his explanation with such a confidence about him that everyone would believe it for a while. That was another solution.
Ever since the dag-on Internet came around, liars everywhere, the Barry’s of the world, have been silenced. We had the answers to every mystery. But, over the years, humankind’s laziness has gotten the best of us. Even now, with the interwebs at our fingertips, many of us still refuse to look anything up. Because of this, many mysteries still remain unanswered. Well, there is an answer, you just haven’t heard it yet because you were too lazy to research it. Fear not, my dear child. I’m here for you. Barry holds sway no longer.
For many years, there have been unanswered questions in the movies. Whether it was by a mistake, like a plot hole, or intentional to create discussion among their fans, many films have left in some curious open-ended questions over the years. After some digging, the biggest of these questions have now been answered. Some of them were explained in novelizations of the stories or even in the movie scripts. some were answered after careful analysis of the film and characters, while others were explained by the movie’s creators. No matter how they were answered, these solutions take a load off our shoulders. They allow us to see things a little clearer and understand the films better than we did before. Here are the 15 biggest movie mysteries explained.
15. Bros Before Shows – Back to the Future
The relationship between old Doc Brown and young Marty McFly in Back to the Future was always a bit puzzling before the film’s co-creator Bob Gale, let us in on the background details. He explains that Marty was always warned to stay clear of crazy ol’ Doc Brown, which, if we know anything about McFly, is a bad thing to say to him. Because McFly is incapable of turning down a challenge—remember the whole “yellow” fiasco? —he went to Doc’s house and loved what he saw there. I have no doubt that an amplifying system with those massive speakers was probably the culprit, the same system that McFly destroys in the opening sequence. In desperate need of friends and friendly reassurance, Doc welcomed McFly into his life with open arms. The more you know.
14. Nala’s Excuse – The Lion King
When Nala bumps into Simba in the forest, a long way from their home, it would make sense that this meeting took place because Nala was searching for her old friend, if only for how far away the forest is. But when they first recognize each other, Nala is surprised to see Simba. So she wasn’t looking for him? Well, what is she doing way out here then? It turns out that Nala was banished from home because she wasn’t into Scar the way Scar was into her. Disney felt that this extra information would be a bit too sexual for little kids so they left it out. But now you know. Tis but another reason for Scar to hate Simba.
13. Danke Schoen Mr. Newton – The Hangover
In the first film of the three, The Hangover, we see Phil (Bradley Cooper) in the hospital with some wounds, but we never are actually told why he was in there in the first place. Hello! Did you learn nothing from the Marvel movies? Always watch the credits! In the slideshow of photos that we see during the credits, we see a few photos of Phil getting into a fight with none other than Wayne Newton. I guess ol’ Wayner packs quite the punch because it was his iron fists that put Phil in the hospital.
12. From Rebellion To Resistance – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Okay. So, many years have passed since Return of the Jedi. The Death Star has been destroyed, the Empire has been defeated and all is well in the universe. Why then, when we pick up the action in Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the Empire still in charge? Why is the rebellion still a ragtag group of peasants, now calling themselves the resistance? Apparently, the answer lies in the political system. After the Empire was dismantled, the politicians would not listen to the rebellion. They refused to act quickly and step on the throat of the failing Empire. The delay allowed the baddies to build themselves back up to their former glory and power. It’s a weak excuse but nothing in politics makes sense on Earth, so, in the end, it is at least realistic.
11. Firing Guns – Goodfellas
Remember that final scene in Goodfellas, which has Henry (Ray Liotta) talking about being in witness protection and living the rest of his life like a nobody? Well during this monologue, he sees the image of Tommy (Joe Pesci) firing a gun at him. Does this mean that he will forever be haunted by the men he narked on? Does this mean that you live by the gun, you die by the gun? Does this mean that Henry is turning his back on that lifestyle for good? Well, actually it’s none of these. The scene is simply an homage to the first ever gangster movie—some call it the first movie, period—The Great Train Robbery. That 14-minute flick ends the same way, with Justus D. Barnes firing at the audience/camera. This was Scorsese‘s way of saying these two films are essentially the same.
10. Finish Him – The Wrestler
When Robin “The Ram” Ramzinski (Mickey Rourke) goes all Hulkster at the end of The Wrestler, many movie fans wondered, did buddy just die or is he going to stick around and play with Marisa Tomei some more? This one is pretty self-explanatory really. The Ram starts to get chest pains, but he wants to go out in style, climbing the ropes and doing his signature move to end his life. While his actions are totally disrespectful of his opponent because he’s about to die on the guy, it’s not really a question about if he lives or dies. He’s going out in the best way he knows how. Like the director Darren Aronofsky, asked, “If not now, when?”
9. Apple Computers – Independence Day
When Jeff Goldblum‘s character from Independence Day pulls out his 1995 MacBook, movie contrarians everywhere started breathing heavily. How is Goldblum, even in all his majesty, going to work his way out of this jam? Ready to jump on any technological flaw that shows itself, these heavy-breathers were ready with pitchfork in hand. When Goldblum sends a virus to the Alien mothership, the alien’s computers go haywire and the good guys win. No explanation needed, right? Wrong? “Erm, exsqueeze me?” they say, “Two questions: A, for Alpha Centauri, how in warp drive five is Goldblum’s tech compatible with alien technology? And B, for Battlestar Galactica, how does an 8mb MacBook send a virus big enough to incapacitate the entire ship?”
Answer: It’s a movie. But also, our digital technology was explained to have come from the alien ship that crashed to earth (can’t remember if that was a deleted scene or not). The virus was able to infect the entire ship because Goldblum simply flipped the binary code—ones to zeroes and zeroes to ones. He’s a genius; don’t question it.
8. Unmanned Ship – The Lost World: Jurassic Park
When the ship crashes ashore in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, the entire crew is dead and there’s a Tyrannosaurus Rex locked up in the cargo hold. So how in the world did the crew die? What killed them? This one was answered in a scene that was left on the cutting room floor, leaving the dead crew completely unexplained. Apparently, when the ship was leaving the island, a crazed velociraptor jumped aboard to come along for the ride. Rather than ride along pleasantly, the raptor decided to rip the crew to shreds and leave no one to drive the boat. Unfortunately, the raptor somehow died after killing the last crewmember. Not sure how, but it died. Maybe it jumped overboard. Could raptors swim?
7. The Pantry Door – The Shining
After being locked up in the pantry by his loving wife Wendy, Jack takes a nap. When he wakes from his slumber, Mr. Grady is outside the door talking to him. As with everything in The Shining, we’re never quite sure what is real and what isn’t. When Mr. Grady tells Jack that he needs to deal with his family, “the situation,” harshly, Jack agrees. After giving his word that he’ll take care of it, Jack is freed from the locked pantry. But how? You’ll remember that good ol’ Grady is a ghost. Do the ghosts really exist or are they in Jack’s head? Was the pantry accidentally left open by Wendy? Or did Jack manage to open it another way? Well, if you accept Stanley Kubrick‘s explanation, it was the ghost, Mr. Grady, who opened it. Kubrick believes that all the paranormal activity in The Shining was real. Spooky stuff.
6. You Alright Eddie? – Reservoir Dogs
The big question with Quentin Tarantino‘s classic hit Reservoir Dogs has always been, who shot Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn)? During the crazy final shootout, it’s clear who shoots who. Everyone is accounted for, except for Eddie; he’s just dead. So what happened? Apparently, no one shot him. But Tarantino liked the mystery so he left it in. In the script, Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) was supposed to be the one to get him, but after Keitel shot Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney), his own squib went off, which means he was shot. So he went down, leaving no one left to shoot Eddie. I’m thinking Reservoir Dogs 2.
5. Holy Water – The Exorcist
In The Exorcist, the demon inside of Regan reacts to the tap water that Damien Karras throws on it as if it were actual holy water. So why is this? Is the demon really tricked? Or is the water effective because a priest throws it? Well the answer is in the demon’s actions. This demon is tricksy. It tries to grow the seed of doubt that Karras already has about his faith (a remnant from his mother’s death). Plus, when the demon reacts to tap water, it seems like host, Regan, might be faking, decreasing the chances that proper exorcism can be approved. The demon knows all of this and is trying to take advantage of Karras. The more it looks like a fake the better chance it has to thrive.
4. Dream Or No Dream – Taxi Driver
The age old question of Travis Bickle’s final moments has lingered on the minds and mouths of movie fans since Taxi Driver’s release. What really happened at the end of the movie? Did Travis really become the hero in the end or was it all a fantasy? Well, just going by what’s contained in the film, it seems pretty unlikely that all the good that happened after the shootout was based in reality. First off, Iris never asked to be “saved,” so she would never thank Travis for killing her entire group of friends and employers. Secondly, the ending with Iris going to school and bettering herself is just too perfect. Then there’s Betsy, and Travis getting to get the upper hand by paying her fare. This is payback in a way. These are all conclusions that Travis would dream up, not realistic ones. Plus, Paul Schrader said that the movie takes place within Bickle’s head (even if he went back on that later on for sequel talk). No more mystery.
3. To Replicant Or Not To Replicant – Blade Runner
Is Deckard (Harrison Ford) a replicant or not? That’s the big question in Blade Runner and the answer really depends on who you ask. Let’s start with the issue at hand. Deckard has a dream and in that dream he sees a unicorn. Then, at the end, Gaff leaves an origami unicorn at Deckard’s door. So what does this mean? Does Gaff know about Deckard’s memories (as replicant’s memories are only implants) or was this a happy coincidence? If you ask Ford, he’ll tell you that Deckard is not a replicant. If you ask Ridley Scott, however, the film’s creator, he’ll say that Deckard is a replicant. There’s also some early storyboards which show that Deckard is a replicant as well. Sounds like Deckard is outnumbered on this one; the guy’s a replicant.
2. Famous Last Words – Citizen Kane
One of the biggest mysteries in film involves one of the biggest films in history, Citizen Kane. When Charles Foster Kane dies, dropping the snow globe, he whispers “Rosebud.” The entire film begins and ends with the attempt to unravel the mystery of what “Rosebud” is or what it means. But there’s a big problem here, some will tell you. How did anyone hear Kane’s last words? There was no one in the room. The nurse who clambered in afterward could not have, so who? Well the answer is in the script. In the room, though not in the shot, was Raymond, Kane’s butler. He heard the word spoken and told the reporter Thompson. There you have it from the pen of Orson Welles himself.
1. Starwho? – 2001: A Space Odyssey
The ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey has baffled audiences for years. What’s the deal? This dude is flying through space and now he’s old and now he’s a baby. Well, the monoliths are a big part of it all, obviously. They are basically triggers that advance humankind a stage forward—first giving the ability to use tools, next a touch of space travel, next some advanced space travel or warp travel, and finally to a superhuman, the Starchild. Before the Starchild stage, Dave is sent to that room after flying through space and all those colors and galaxies for a bit. Think of this room as a zoo or a museum in which all his life’s stages of his are on display for visitors to watch. These alien visitors observe him like we observe animals in our zoos. Once the Monolith reappears in the room, Dave is transformed once more into the Starchild and sent back to Earth to advance our species forward. Until the next monolith!