From Kubrick to Lynch to Lasseter, hidden messages in movies (AKA subliminal media messages) have long been a source of fascination for critics, movie buffs, and conspiracy theorists alike. It's a universally accepted truth, however, that not all purposefully placed symbols are created equal. Some are sophisticated, ominous, and philosophical (as in Eyes Wide Shut), while others are lighthearted, sweet, and whimsical (as in The Little Mermaid).
In either case, the hunt for cinematic Easter eggs is often exciting, sometimes difficult, and always rewarding. Read on to find out what you may have missed through even-umpteenth viewings of some of your favorite films.
- Photo: Disney
Disney's The Little Mermaid made headlines years ago, when savvy viewers detected an alleged erection that popped up during Prince Eric's farcical wedding to the sea witch Ursula (sported, of course, by the officiating priest). Disney's animators denied putting the sexual innuendo in there deliberately, claiming that the priest's tumescence was actually just an awkwardly-angled representation of his knees.
One thing that was deliberate, however, was the sly presence of hidden wedding guests during the very same scene. According to Reel Rundown, both the King and the Duke from Cinderella can be seen among the nuptial merrymakers.
In another scene, namely the opening number in which King Triton's daughters put on a concert, the guests include Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy. Non-Disney interloper Kermit the Frog was also in attendance, and even a balding (animated) Walt Disney made an appearance.773295Did this hidden message surprise you?
- Photo: MoviePilot
Disney's The Rescuers, the story of two Rescue Aid Society-employed mice out to save a little orphan girl, was one of Disney's last great old-school productions. Of course, as Disney features are wont to do, it contained its share of sly adult Easter Eggs.
In 1999, 3.4 million video copies of the film were recalled, all because of a brief fly-by still image that had finally been noticed. The offending picture was of a topless woman, depicted in a vintage burlesque style, who briefly flashed by in a window. Disney spokespeople vehemently claimed that the image had been inserted in post-production, insisting that their animators had not been responsible for it.
While this deliberate hidden message wasn't Disney's fault, the fact remains that it is there. (In fact, its “risque” prints are now something of a cult collector's item).541211Did this hidden message surprise you?
- Photo: Scott Heim
David Lynch's Mulholland Drive is considered by many to be one of the most brilliant films ever made. As such, it's been analyzed to an exhaustive degree. Each probe, however, only raises more questions and inspires new theories. One scene in the movie, though, is a blatant yet subtle example of Lynch hiding characters in plain sight. During the Club Silencio sequence, just as Betty and Rita are entering the theater, Ronette Pulaski and Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks can briefly be seen seated side by side, just ahead of them.
The question of who is or isn't dead at what time is one of Mulholland Drive's most enduring mysteries. Perhaps, then, it's significant that Laura (who was killed off-series in the film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me) appears alongside Ronette, who survived the same brutal attack. Tellingly, Ronnete emerged from the incident as a traumatized amnesiac, just like Rita/Camilla after her car accident/thwarted hit job.26173Did this hidden message surprise you?
- Photo: Buena Vista Pictures
Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a rollicking, family friendly, playfully risque adventure. The animators did manage to sneak in a fairly overt NSFW moment, however, that almost nobody noticed at the time of release. During the scene in which Jessica Rabbit and Eddie Valiant flee in Benny the Cab, Jessica's nether regions are briefly exposed - sans panties - after Benny crashes and she tumbles from the vehicle.
According to Variety, when the news came out, it “caused a run on [the laserdisc]. Many retailers said that within minutes of opening Tuesday, their entire inventory was sold out.” One must remember that this was 1994, years before Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction revolutionized easy access to such things on the internet.
The same article claims that there were other "questionable" scenes. One such involved the cantankerous, cigar-puffing Baby Herman “fondling a woman as he passes under her dress.”
A freeze-frame inspection of the Jessica Rabbit scene (which can be viewed in the above picture) reveals a smooth, Barbie doll like crotch, rather than an anatomically correct one. Regardless, prudish parents are still gonna hate, even if their kids' corrupting influences are moving too fast for the naked eye.410168Did this hidden message surprise you?