What are Easter eggs in movies?

Easter egg on a table

Directors have been using the concept of Easter Eggs in movies for a lot of time. It has been used as a creative tool in movies and visual media to plant the viewers’ seed of curiosity.

To put it very merely, Easter Eggs in movies is the director’s secret love letter to the viewers. To the Easter egg definition, they are the crucial hidden elements, subtle references, and inside comedy used by the director, sometimes inconspicuously, sometimes not.  Earlier, as used to refer to a hidden object, it is now used more openly to point out the secret treasures in movies and other visual electronic media. All the viewers might not found these, but Easter Eggs in movies are there for a hunt. They are called so too because of the famous Easter egg hunt.

The Easter egg definition and origin of the term

To ponder upon the Easter egg background, the term Easter egg was initially used to symbolize a secret feature in a Video Game in the 1980s called Adventure for the Atari 2600. Warren Robinett programmed it. Atari at that time did not allow featuring the programmer’s name in the credits section as they feared the competitors might hijack the potential employees. In need of acknowledgment, Robinett secretly programmed the message “Created by Warren Robinett.” Thus, this is how the Easter egg background came to life. The catch being, the message would appear to the player only if the avatar was moved over a specific pixel and moved into a ‘forbidden’ part of the game on the map, where they could find this message. After a while, a player decoded this message in the game. The idea to remove this message and re-launch the game after Warren left seemed too costly. Thus it was molded into a discoverable secret. Steve Wright, the Director of Software Development in the Consumer Division of Atari, propounded the inclusion of such messages in the games further, calling them Easter Eggs. Post this, the Easter egg from its background traveled to the forefront, ready for its use.

What is an Easter egg in movies then?

As for Easter Eggs in movies, Alfred Hitchcock has been the first director to have used Easter egg in his film. It was in the form of his small cameo appearance in the movie. He has made his cameo in almost 40 out of the 52 films he has directed or produced. In his most famous movie, The Birds, he leaves a pet shop with two cute dogs. It turns out; these were Hitchcock’s dogs in real life too.

Thus, post this, tiny Easter egg elements have been used enormously in movies and comics to tap onto the viewers’ curiosity and scratch the surfaces of their interests.

How to spot Easter Eggs, and what is the point of its use?

What is an Easter egg? The article further sets in motion, delving deeper into the Easter egg definition. The point of using these Easter Eggs in movies is straightforward. It wishes to incentivize the viewers to watch the movie multiple times and discover the hidden treasures in that movie. The Easter Eggs in movies are a win-win for both the viewers and the creators of the film. These subtle nuances keep the filmmakers entertained, too, as it taps their creativity quotient. Along with that, Easter eggs in movies ensure that the scripts do not become monotonous and uninteresting. After hours of scriptwriting and pixel shooting, an Easter egg spices up a director’s day at the shoot.

Another important function of using an Easter egg in movies is to prevent the original film from being copied illegally. A legit copy of any film can be distinguished from its Cam or illegal copy by identifying Easter Eggs’ presence in the screenplay. Even if the two DVDs of the same movie look similar, the film studio can declare one to be unoriginal by looking for the Easter Eggs in movies.

These Easter Eggs in movies also work in the form of thematic secrets as they help the directors put forth directly the theme of the movie, and rather reveal it in an intriguing, subtle manner.

To spot the Easter Eggs in movies, in animation films, they are hidden in action scenes. To make the viewer see the scene up close, the director adds an Easter egg in that complex action sequence. In all the other genres, Easter Eggs are hidden pretty much all over the movie, or especially in the credits. This is done to keep the audience hooked onto it right till the end.

What are the best Easter Eggs in movies ever?

The most prominent Easter Eggs, some famous movies is as follows:

  • Catch me if you can: This movie tells the story of Frank Abagnale. It stars both Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio. The Easter egg here is when Frank Abagnale is arrested, one of the officers in the crew is real-life Frank himself, coming in as a cameo.
  • Raiders of the Lost Arc: The connection between this film and the Star Wars has multiple Easter Eggs in the movies. Once in this movie, when Indiana Jones is holding up an artifact made of gold, one of the hieroglyphs show the C3PO and R2-D2. There are other references too, like the hat in Clone Wars.
  • Fight Club: There is an Easter egg in this movie that is visible to the viewers every time they watch it. There is a Starbucks coffee cup in all the scenes as a director’s way of mocking at the fact that in a movie that rejected corporate branding, this brand’s use is ironic.

Personal Favourite Easter Eggs in movies

  • Toy Story: The flooring in Sid’s house is a replica of the floor in the Shining. In the third part of the movie, when Toy meets the sanitation worker, Sid is the one collecting Bins. He is also wearing the same Skull t-shirt as in the first film.
  • Captain America – The Winter Soldier: Here, the famous Nick Fury’s gravestone has inscribed the famous quote from the Bible as quoted by Samuel Jackson in his speech in Pulp Fiction.
  • The Departed: To foreshadow any character’s death in the upcoming scene, the director precedes it with X’s as an Easter egg and a homage to Scarface, the original movie.

Thus, go back and watch all your favorite movies again. Chances are, you might find or discover an Easter egg in the movie that isn’t known to anyone yet!


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