Even though we all love to complain about films, we finish them, for the most part, satisfied with what we’ve seen. Plenty of films have plot holes that were left unanswered, some even use unsolved mysteries as a device, but we usually just accept little unknowns as part of the business. Many of us have personal questions about films that can be answered by something small in the film, something we probably overlooked. We can often find these answers on the interwebs or by talking it through with a friend. The odd time, however, you’ll encounter a question that no one has the answer to. Again, sometimes these are intentional and we’ll deal with those intentions. Other times, these are mistakes or oversights by the filmmakers. We’ll deal with those too. The most impressive part about the questions on this list is that we all share these questions. If you don’t, you should. You might not even know you have them until you see them asked, and then you’ll think to ourselves, yeah! What is the deal with that?
What we’ve done here is list the questions that we all have about famous movies. If the question was intentional, we’ll discuss what the plan was. If the question was accidental, we’ll discuss what some popular theories are. But, by no means, are we answering these questions. They will never be answered without making another film, and, even then, that would simply be rewriting and revising history. The basic fact here is that these questions are those nagging questions that teach us the art of being unsatisfied. It’s a lesson in humanity. The Rolling Stones knew what they were talking about when they said, “You can’t always get what you want.” Here are 15 Movie Questions Everyone Has That Never Got Answered.
15. Where Does the Red Brick Road Lead?
The famous yellow brick road from The Wizard of Oz has inspired people to go off and explore the unknown for decades, but what about the red-headed step child of roads, the red brick road? Ever since Dorothy first took off along the yellow brick road, following it through to the Emerald City, fans have been asking where the other road went to, the red brick road that started at the same point. Some have argued that it led nowhere, that it was simply the framing for the yellow bricks. Some have argued that it goes to Quadling Country, the red-themed southern lands in Oz. While the Quadling Country argument seems to make sense, there is no mention of a red brick road in the source material. If we assume that yellow is representative of the friendship Dorothy finds along the way, perhaps she would have found love along the red brick passage. If we go with the economic symbolism that Frank L. Baum intended in the book, with the yellow bricks representing the gold standard, red might be more representative of the red ink of debt, but, then again, the earliest representation of using red to signify debt was after The Wizard of Oz was published. The truth is, we’ll never know where it goes, if anywhere.
14. What’s The Deal With Chip?
We know that a crazy witch enchantress cursed the prince and everything in his castle in Beauty and the Beast. We learn from Lumiere, that this took place 10 years before the events with Belle in the movie. The prince’s wacky age aside, many fans have wondered: what’s the deal with Chip? Chip is the little kid/cup, the son of Mrs. Potts. How old is he? The reason we ask is because something is up here. Let’s assume Chip and Mrs. Potts and all the other inanimate objects aged the same way that the prince did as the beast (when the curse is broken he’s older than he was). That means that either Chip was younger than 10 and was birthed as a cup from a teapot mother, which is a weird image, or he is older than 10, which means he was born a human and turned into a cup as a baby. This would mean that he doesn’t understand how to be a human—like walking. What if the cursed items didn’t age? Then Chip is a 20-year old mind in a 10-year old’s body. Curiouser and curiouser.
13. Was It All In Patrick Bateman’s Head?
At the end of American Psycho, we’re left to wonder, did Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) commit those murders or were they all in his head? It seems that some of the people he murdered are still alive, at least Paul Allen is said to be, and there are hints that it was all in his head. We have to wonder if Bateman is just psychotic and imagining doing these things or if he really did them. There’s a theme of social hierarchy here. Because of this, we should be leaning more toward the fact that Bateman could have killed the less savory people on the social ladder (homeless people and prostitutes), and no one would care or notice, while those higher than him are untouchable. He fetishizes killing Paul Allen because he’s higher than Bateman on the social ladder, but he can’t reach him—he doesn’t even seem to know where he lives. In response, Bateman lashes out on weaker creatures, the animals and the accessible (and unmissable) humans. Really this is just a guess though.
12. How Did Boo’s Parents React?
So, you’re watching Monster’s Inc. with your parent’s hat on and you think to yourself, ‘oh my God. Those poor parents must be at home grieving over a missing child’. In the middle of one horrible night, these parents have their small child, Boo, taken from them with no clues as to where she went. The monsters, Mike and Sully, had Boo in their company for an entire night at least and, when she is finally returned, it’s nighttime once again. We’ll play it safe and say she was missing for 24 hours. Now before you say that time works differently in Monstropolis, it doesn’t. We know this because Mike and Sully were in the real world for a period of time while Boo was in Monstropolis and, when they returned, approximately the same amount of time had passed.
11. How Does Bender’s Joke End?
There’s a chance that The Breakfast Club fades away in the next 50 years as movie fans forget about the old teenager stereotypes and social divisions in high school, but, at least for now, this movie is still amazing. It does leave us with a huge question though. When John Bender (Judd Nelson) is crawling through the vents in the school, he begins to tell a joke. It starts, “A naked blonde walks into a bar, carrying a poodle under one arm and a six-foot salami under the other. The bartender says, ‘So, I don’t suppose you’d be needing a drink?’ The blonde says……” It’s at this moment that he falls through the ceiling. He never does finish that joke. Apparently, it was just ad-libbed, but there does seem to be the makings of a real joke here. It likely connects the salami with sex or male genitals and the poodle with the naked woman. Use your imagination.
10. What’s In The Box?
The mysterious unopened box is a device used in several movies. We watch these flicks and leave crying like Brad Pitt in Se7en, What’s in the box? What’s in the box? Well, in Cast Away one of the scripts said that it was salsa. The director, Robert Zemeckis, joked that it was a satellite phone. Who knows what was in the box in the final cut? In Pulp Fiction, some of the best theories say the briefcase had either Marcellus Wallace’s soul or the stolen diamonds from Reservoir Dogs. When asked about it, Quentin Tarantino states it was only a MacGuffin, a device used to push the events along with no real narrative explanation. With the Coen brothers’ Barton Fink, many of us assume that there was a head in the box, but we can’t ever say for sure. It could just as easily be anything, but the deep-down belief that there might be a head in there impacts Fink, like a placebo effect. This educated guess has the exact same effect on the viewers at the same time.
9. Did The Shotguns Get Dumped?
In Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, the main protagonists end up with some antique shotguns. When the gang realizes that the guns link them to the ongoing investigation, they suggest tossing them off a bridge. As one of the members goes to get the guns and do the dirty work, the other members of the heist discover that the guns actually have an estimated value of £250,000 – £300,000, quite a bit more than the £700 they thought they were worth. Quickly, the guys try to call their friend before he dumps them, but it looks like it’s too late. He’s already thrown them over. Thankfully, however, the guns were caught on a ledge below the bridge. As the guy hangs over the bridge railing attempting to free the guns from the ledge and dispose of them properly, he puts his phone in between his teeth. With guns in hand and phone in his mouth, it begins to ring and the film ends. Now cliff-hangers aren’t really the type of questions we’re dealing with here, but it does beg the question, what does he do first? Let go of the guns or answer his phone?
8. How Do The Three Seashells Work?
Yes, Demolition Man is a film that people enjoyed quite a bit when it was released. It had a great cast and an interesting concept. This is one of those movies that you just know is going to be rebooted at some point. Well, one of the things that has lived on with this film is the question of the three seashells. The protagonist (Sylvester Stallone) finds himself in a bathroom, but there is no toilet paper, only three seashells. He has no idea how to use them. The shells are mentioned twice but no one ever explains them. The writer said he got this idea from a bathroom decorated with seashells, so there’s no logical reasoning behind them, but we can assume that each one would be a step. If there ever is a remake, we can only hope that the director who tries to answer this for everyone does so satisfactorily.
7. Will The Alien Come Back in Three Years?
Before Christopher leaves Earth in District 9, he promises the hero, Wikus (Sharlto Copley), that he’ll return in three years with the cure. To be honest, we expected a sequel, District 10, by now, but it has never come. Therefore, we’re left to guess the answer for ourselves. We know that Wikus is alive and making metal flowers. We know that Christopher, the alien that went for help, is mad about the tests being done to aliens, but we have to wonder if it’s worth it for him to come back. Many movies have done this, will they or won’t they type of promise ending. It leaves the interpretation in the viewer’s hands. Remember back to Before Sunrise, where the two lovers promise to meet in the same spot six months in the future. We are left to wonder what happened. When we finally got a sequel, nine years later, we learn that they did not meet. It was heartbreaking.
6. What the Hell Is That Parade Celebrating?
For fans of movies and parades, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is the perfect film. Bueller takes a day off of school and does the things that every kid dreams of; going to a baseball game, going to a fine-dining restaurant, going to an art galler… What? No kid would do this kind of stuff on a day off from school. Either way, the three friends also go to a parade. But smart viewers have been asking for a while, what parade is this? What’s it celebrating? Why is it taking place during work hours on a weekday? Now, Chicago residents will recognize this parade as the Von Steuben Day parade, but this parade takes place on a weekend in September. Why is it going on at the end of the school year? This might just be a mistake or an oversight, but we still have to ask the question.
5. What’s With The Prophecy?
The foundation of Star Wars is built like a religious construct—two opposing sides of good and evil. The prophecy in this world speaks of a chosen one who will bring balance to the force. At first, we thought this would be Luke Skywalker, then it was Anakin. We figured that the prophecy had been fulfilled after Anakin brought balance, albeit in a much different way than we imagined. But what about the new movies? Is the prophecy still open? One of the things the new films seem to be working toward is a concept of gray, not fully light or good and not fully dark or evil, but balanced. Is it possible that Rey is the balance? Or Kylo Ren? Are one of these the chosen one? We don’t know at this point, but we also aren’t so convinced that the prophecy has been neatly tied up with a bow either.
4. How Did The Joker Get His Scars?
How the Joker (Heath Ledger) got his scars in The Dark Knight is one of those questions that people try to answer using stuff that we know. For instance, many suggest that his awareness of strategy and weaponry and his comments about soldiers makes him seem like a military veteran. Sure, but he could want people to believe that. Often the Joker provides people with options about his past, hoping to influence how they see him. We see the inspiration for his character in The Dark Knight in Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke where the Joker says, “If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that the Joker wants us to have to guess at his past. Multiple choice often asks people to choose the “best possible answer.” Hell, the truest answer might not even be listed. The Joker is known for using people’s lives and pasts against them. If we knew his own story, it could be used as a weapon to stop him. But we don’t and we won’t.
3. When Can We Feed Mogwais?
When we first heard the rules about caring for a Mogwai in Gremlins, everyone had the same question. If we can’t feed it AFTER midnight, when can we feed it? Now this one has lived on for a long time. In Gremlins 2, they even make fun of this somewhat, saying, “What if he eats something at 11 o’clock but gets something stuck in his teeth?” What about feeding in different time zones? There are plenty of related questions. Really, the most logical answer, though we can’t be sure it’s correct is that the laws are governed by light. This would make sense since Mogwais are affected by bright lights. Back when there were no clocks, Mogwais would probably get up when the sun went down. Sometime before midnight, they would eat their final meal, and then go back to sleep before the sun came up again. This would mean that you would have to wait until the sun has come up to feed them again. Maybe the sun resets their biological food meter. Or, then again, maybe not.
2. How Is Jack In The Photograph?
Why is Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) suddenly in the photo at the end? That’s the question we all have after watching The Shining. This has never been answered, though we do have suspicions and theories. The problem with the best theory is that it was disputed by Stanley Kubrick himself. When asked about the ending, Kubrick said, “The ballroom photograph at the very end suggests the reincarnation of Jack.” Now this seems to confirm the idea that Jack was called to the hotel to be the caretaker, basically a reincarnated version of Charles/Delbert Grady, a man set to relive the same experiences as the caretakers before him. When Grady tells Jack that he has “always been the caretaker,” it again seems to suggest that he’s been trapped in a never-ending reincarnation cycle—something the picture from 1921 could confirm. But don’t be so sure. Kubrick said “suggests.” It’s much more likely that the house has simply claimed the spirit of Jack as one of its own. On your next watch through, remember these words: “The house always lies.”
1. Is Travis Bickle Dead?
Many people argue about the ending of Taxi Driver suggesting there is a definitive answer to one of cinema’s best questions: is Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) dead? The reason this question lives on is because Taxi Driver is one of the greatest movies ever made. The answer to the question probably depends on your societal perspective. It will likely change depending on the age in which you watch the film and maybe even the particular mood you’re in. Like Roger Ebert once said, “I am not sure there can be an answer to these questions. The end sequence plays like music, not drama: It completes the story on an emotional, not a literal, level.” So, Bickle feels wronged by society and, when he can’t assassinate the politician, he kills Iris’ pimp and some others. After the very bloody shoot-out, the camera shows Bickle miming shooting himself in the head and the camera pans out. Next thing we see is Bickle’s apartment and he’s a hero in the newspapers, he’s getting a thank you call from Iris’ dad for saving her, and his Betsy seems to regret rejecting him in the past. It’s all coming up Travis. Is this a dream/fantasy? Maybe. Maybe not. If you believe that we improperly honor and make celebrities of people for the wrong reasons, then no. If you don’t think that, then maybe it is a man’s dying fantasy.