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What are some of the most fascinating instances of attention to detail in movies?

Aseem KushwahAseem Kushwah, ....
26 upvotes by Quora User, Moshiur Rahman, Chris Kruppa, (more)
1. In “Dr. Strangelove”, a satire about the United States government during the nuclear arms race with Russia, Kubrick insisted the table around which the government officials were sitting be made green to look like a poker table.This is symbolism that viewers would never be able to catch in 1964, a time of black and white movies.

2. A scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey takes place on the moon. No, they didn't film it on the moon, silly! They filmed it on Earth; it's just that nobody told Kubrick that. He insisted that all of the equipment on screen be built to actually work on the actual moon anyway.

The instructions for the zero-gravity Toilet can still be found on internet(The Zero Gravity Toilet)

3. For the shooting of Dr. Strangelove  The sets occupied the B-52 Stratofortress bomber. Lacking cooperation from the Pentagon in the making of the film, the set designers reconstructed the aircraft cockpit to the best of their ability by comparing the cockpit of a B-29 Superfortress and a single photograph of the cockpit of a B-52, and relating this to the geometry of the B-52's fuselage. The B-52 was state-of-the-art in the 1960s, and its cockpit was off-limits to the film crew. When some United States Air Force personnel were invited to view the reconstructed B-52 cockpit, they said that "it was absolutely correct, even to the little black box which was the CRM."

It was so accurate that Kubrick was concerned whether Ken Adam's production design team had done all of their research legally, fearing a possible investigation by the FBI.

4. Michael Mann's 2009 film, Public Enemies, was made on actual locations where Dillinger's gang raided banks and uses authentic weapons of the period.Mann insisted on staging the climactic shootout at the Little Bohemia Lodge in the exact spot where it happened. "We had Johnny Depp in John Dillinger's real bedroom, lying on the same bed, walking past the same toilet, escaping in exactly the same way Dillinger had," gushed the director.

5. The Thief And The Cobbler (1993) was released in the same year as Aladdin.While Aladdin employed cutting edge CGI, every frame of Williams' remarkably elaborate film was drawn by hand. As a result, it was in production for more than 30 years, a world record to this day.

6.The scene in Matrix in which Morpheus attempts to train Neo's attention (he is distracted by a blonde in a red dress and ends up shot in the face) is populated entirely by doppelgangers, included to demonstrate Mouse's laziness in cutting corners on his programming. For this the Wachowskis spent several days in Sydney (where the scene was shot) tracking down identical twins specifically for this sequence.

A very interesting collection of various instances of attention to detail is mentioned here: 50 Most Insane Movie Details

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Director Spotlight: Stanley Kubrick
Dr. Strangelove
Michael Mann's eye for detail - Ali
50 Most Insane Movie Details
Quora UserQuora User, Visual Effects
7 upvotes by Thomas Hemsley, Marc Bodnick, Quora User, (more)
From my personal experience three examples come immediately to mind.

The first is the level of attention to detail spent on the film "Titanic", both initially and in its later 3d re-release. I recall my unit taking efforts to ensure correct star positions for the latitude/longitude, supposed camera heading and time for shots at night (using star maps generated by a specialist consultant using a custom tool for astronomers), re-creation of aspects of the ship itself to accommodate the latest analysis of the actual ship construction as it deviated from blueprints as well as the location, shape and other aspects of the impact itself, and so on.

Another item which comes to mind is the 3d model used for the "helicarrier" shots in Avengers, which has incredible detail, similarly the models for the "underground lab" in green lantern, where individual nuts and bolts were modeled in high resolution. In the first the model's detail was carefully targeted while in the second case it could be argued that the attention to detail was largely wasted and unnecessary. But the effort taken in both cases was quite striking to see first hand.

And third was the effort into realistic horse musculature and flesh simulation by weta in shots for a recent film, which was part of a larger cutting-edge effort which effectively simulates the motion and interactions of muscles, skin, fat and connective tissue to an amazing degree.
Nick ManterisNick Manteris,
This is really more of an easter egg, but in Terminator 2, when they make a stop at a gas station, the company is Benthic Petroleum - the same oil company from Cameron's earlier film, The Abyss.
Praveen TummalapalliPraveen Tummalapalli, B.S. '13 Biology
In The Dark Knight, in the scene right before Maroni steps into the car and sees Dent there waiting for him, if you look closely you can see Dent grab one of Maroni's men and sneak into the car.
Nick HodgsonNick Hodgson, Teacher/ Mentor/ Coach/ Father
4 upvotes by Thomas Hemsley, Marc Bodnick, Tom Byron, (more)
Anderson has already mentioned it but there is simply no way I can go past Titanic.  The part that really got me was a second or two of screen time where a shelf full of plates crashes over as the ship tips up.  The plates were manufactured especially for the film, using the specific design that the plates on the original ship had, stamped with the White Star Line logo - despite the fact that no one would notice any of this in the two seconds of screen time.

I believe (and correct me if I recall wrong) that Cameron says details like that matter because they help the actors and crew to put themselves in that ship.

Bonus mention of course to Jim Cameron who when devising the same film decided he would like to open with shots of the ship resting on the ocean floor - so he hired a couple of submarines, had his brother invent a camera that works at crushing ocean depths and went and filmed the actual wreck! 

Amazing attention to detail.  Love to see Cameron shoot a film about Apollo 11....

(On a side note I was disappointed in Avatar because some of it was shot in NZ instead of on location ON Pandora... Geez Cameron... Slipping a bit there)
Avi LewinAvi Lewin, Information Security and Film ... (more)
I think one of the best sources for this type of information is the "trivia" page for a given film on the IMDb. Here are a few interesting examples:

According to the inscription on the Nebuchadnezzar's core, the ship was "Made in the USA" in the year 2069. It also states that it is a "Mark III, No. 11" model, which is a possible reference to Mark 3:11, which reads "And whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, they would fall down in front of him shrieking, 'You are the Son of God!'"

When Tyler Durden calls The Narrator back in the phone booth, the camera slowly tracks in towards the phone. On the left of the phone, a notice can be seen saying "No incoming calls allowed."

The winding stairs in Jerome's apartment have a helical structure, like DNA.

I'd suggest looking up your favourite films (if you haven't already) and seeing what the trivia sections say about them!
Quora UserQuora User, A Jungian Archetype on a Hero'... (more)
3 upvotes by Thomas Hemsley, Pranav Singh, and Quora User.
1. Brave

Every thread in the tapestry in Brave is modeled individually, Pixar has always taken their work seriously and they push and push the boundaries of technology. Just take a look at one segment of our inside look that talks about using billions of fibers to give realism and texture to simulated cloth while for a tapestry they wrote a computer software program to weave the threads into a pattern as if it was genuinely sewed and giving you as realistic a tapestry as you’re likely to find in an animated film. That is an insane level of detail but insanity and genius can often go hand and hand.

The Princess Merida’s hair was almost a three year process to get correct.

Hair is modeled using a series of mass and springs (springs connecting point masses). But very curly hair acts in a contradictory way: curls are very stiff, so the springs need to be quite rigid, but the movement of the hair requires a soft flowing quality that fights this property. If the ‘springs’ were too soft the hair would unwind, if the hair springs were too stiff, her hair would not move realistically. This coupled with the problem of collision and intersection – while holding to the production schedule – made Brave’s hair simulation extremely complex. To address the curls themselves there is a core thread or curve that runs through the middle of a primary curl. The key hairs are B-splines that are then used to interpolate the motion of the rest of the hairs. So Merida had 1500 hand placed curves which interpolate to some 111,000 curves at final render. Merida’s hair was simulated at about 20 to 30 seconds a frame.

Hair like Merida’s – if real – would itself have quite a lot of actual mass and weight. “Over the course of doing her hair,” comments Pixar simulation supervisor Claudia Chung, “one thing we noticed was that the idea of weight of curly hair defies logic. If you took a curly hair and weighted it and then one took straight hair and weighted it, with the same weight in mass, the way each would react to gravity is quite different.” Merida’s hair wanted to unwind due to the weight of her own hair, so the team tried lighting the mass, but then the hair became floaty “almost like underwater hair. It is not that the mass changes, it is almost as if gravity itself changes.” So the team ended up using a gravity coefficient closer to that of the moon than earth.

The amount of research and hard work put in this is mind-numbing

Look at this link if you want more information and believe me, there is a lot of infomation: Brave New Hair

And this Bonus Video:

2. Monsters University

People at Pixar actually created a real functioning university website for this movie. Its hilarious, check out this link:
Monsters University

The website covers all subjects of a real university website, and includes a store where related merchandise can be bought. In addition, the first TV commercial for the film was aired during the 2013 Rose Bowl Game, parodying ads that participating schools air during college football telecasts.
Tom ByronTom Byron, Graduate of The University of ... (more)
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
Specifically, the computer sequences with HAL9000, and the interior scenes of the ship.(below)
21 upvotes by Rocket Singh, Sriram Rajasekar, Navin Rajan, (more)

If you haven't watched FIGHT CLUB , please do not view this answer!

1.The Tyler flashes. Before Tyler officially enters the Narrator's life when they're sitting together on the plane, he appears six times in the film. Once he's riding a moving walkway at the airport (that appearance isn't included on this list, since it's not hidden).

Four of those times, Tyler appears as a subliminal flash that occurs when the Narrator has a moment of frustration or anger during his insomnia daze. These, of course, create the foundation for Tyler.

Below are screen grabs of all four one-frame Tyler Durden appearances -- once when the Narrator is mindlessly making copies... once when he's leaving his doctor... once when he sees Marla leaving a therapy session... and once during his testicular cancer support group.

2.Tyler as a waiter. The fifth time Tyler appears? When the Narrator is in the middle of his early traveling montage and he's watching TV in his hotel room. A group of waiters on screen all say "Welcome." If you look carefully, Brad Pitt is in the front row of waiters, on the far right

3.No incoming calls. This is a quick, subtle hint early on that Tyler isn't real. When the Narrator's condo blows up, he calls Tyler from a payphone, with no answer. Then, a few seconds later, the phone rings. As the Narrator goes to answer it, the camera zooms in on some text on the payphone that reads, "No incoming calls accepted." In other words -- Tyler could not have called him back, because this phone cannot ring.

4.White boxers. During the course of the movie, Tyler and the Narrator intentionally dress in opposite ways -- Tyler is flamboyant, the Narrator is corporate and buttoned-down. The only place they're identical: Their boxers.

When the Narrator is ordering IKEA furniture at the beginning of the movie, he's in plaid boxers.As soon as he moves into Tyler's house, he begins wearing white boxers... the same exact ones Tyler wears as he bikes around the house.

Tyler punched. This is extremely, extremely subtle. But when Tyler is fighting the owner of the bar, when Tyler gets punched in the stomach the Narrator ever-so-slightly doubles over and winces in pain.

It's one of the only times you ever see him visually react to what happens to Tyler. I guess it would be too over-the-top if all of a sudden his face became all bloody here.

Car crash. I have a lot of beef with the car crash... I know they explain on the DVD commentary how a figment of your imagination can drive a car into a ditch... but it's always felt a little too forced to me.

(It's almost too much of a fake out. We're willing to believe the Narrator beat himself up in those first few fights, that he chemical burned his own hand, that he went around the country setting up fight clubs. But that he could have that argument with himself while driving a car off a road? It's just one leap too far.)

Anyway, in the scene, here are two hints that Tyler doesn't really exist. When the car pulls up, the Narrator gets in the driver's door, and Tyler follows through the same door. But when the car crashes and flips over, Tyler gets out of the passenger side... and pulls the Narrator out of the driver's side. Because the car's flipped it's hard to figure that out... damn near impossible in the moment.

7)The Narrator wanders the house while Tyler and Marla noisily have sex upstairs. When the detective calls and the Narrator answers the phone, the sounds of the lovemaking instantly stop

8)When Tyler and the Narrator hit the first car with baseball bats, Tyler hits first, but the alarm is triggered only after the Narrator hits.
9)When the Narrator enters the house prior to seeing the news report of the happy face on the building, he is carrying one of Project Mayhem's folders.

10)When the narrator gets on the bus with Tyler, he only pays the fare for one person.

Credits : 11 Hidden Secrets in Fight Club
Neeraj KhandelwalNeeraj Khandelwal, I watch lots of movies. In ter... (more)
12 upvotes by Thomas Hemsley, Quora User, Shantanu Srivastava, (more)
Mughal-e-Azam(1960) is a Bollywood movie made in 1950s made by Director K. Asif. Movie is a fictional love story between Prince Salim and Dancer Anarkali which the King Akbar disapproves. Asif created the movie with every possible detail that is required.

Note: Movie is black-white.

  1. Sheesh Mahal - A set built as a replica of the hirstorical Sheesh Mahal(house of glass) in the Lahore Fort, in the Mohan Studios. The particular set was noted for its size, measuring 150 feet in length, 80 feet in breadth and 35 feet in height. A heavily-discussed aspect of the set was the presence of numerous small mirrors made of Belgian glass, which were crafted and designed by workers from Firozabad. The sequence was reported to have cost
    10 Lakh($1.739M of today, $1 in 1950 =
    4.79 in 1950 and $1 in 1950 = $8.33 today) to execute, a price higher than the budget of an entire film at that time. The high cost increased fears that the financiers of the film would face bankruptcy. This set was used only for picturization of a 5-6 minutes song and that was the first ever colored shot in any movie in bollywood.

  2. Costume - The film's costume design was undertaken by tailors from Delhi, with specialists from Surat-Khambayat executing the embroidery.
    Footwear - The footwear was ordered from Agra, which is quite famous for the shoes especially leather.
    Jewellery - The jewellery made by goldsmiths in Hyderabad, and the crowns designed in Kolhapur, which is now quite famous for Flip Flops.

  3. Golden Krishna - A statue of Lord Krishna, to which Jodhabai prayed, was made of pure gold for just a scene. Top left image.

  4. Actress in Chains - In the scenes involving an imprisoned Anarkali, the chains Madhubala wore were authentic. Chains weighed around 10Kg and she was asked to keep them for long time.

  5. Warriors - The battle sequence between Akbar and Salim featured 2,000 camels, 4,000 horses and 8,000 troops. A significant portion of the soldiers were taken from the Indian Army's Jaipur Regiment. The weapons used by the soldiers were crafted by Rajasthani ironsmiths.

  6. Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya(If in love there is no point to be afraid) - This is an iconic Hindi song which K.Asif made Shakeel Badayuni write it 105 times. Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar was made to sing this song in bathroom for reverberation.

  7. Akbar - Prithviraj Kapoor was made to drink Whisky for making his voice husky.

There are lots of trivia about the movie but that is not the question. One of my favourite movies.

Articles about movie:
Mughal-E-Azam: The Real Romance

Mughal-e-Azam, Mughal-e-Azam: 50 years in 50 pics(Since the slideshow in the article cannot be included but this is also part of my answer).
Steven AdamsSteven Adams, Hobo Traveller & Storyteller
4 upvotes by Noel Adams, Marc Bodnick, Thomas Hemsley, (more)
Four of my favorite films come to mind when I think of fascinating attention to detail:

1. La Reine Margot (1994)

I especially like the graphic attention to detail as we watch Charles IX die slowly from arsenic poisoning, it's brutal and well played by Jean-Hugues Anglade.

2. Le Hussard Sur Le Toit (1995)

I always enjoy watching Juliette Binoche but I also love the attention to period detail even down to the flaming of the hands to stop the spread of Cholera.

3. Le Bossu (1997)

It's the sword play of course, there's a theme here all my films are period and French and I do love French Cinema.

4. Germinal (1993)

And lastly this one just for the sheer depth and breadth of the grotesquerie. At 160 minutes it's long and harrowing in it's detail and maybe it's not for everyone but I highly recommend it.
Czen LimbagoCzen Limbago, Bricoleur
3 upvotes by Emma Saboureau, Thomas Hemsley, and Quora User.
Mulholland Drive.

You just know it is when (1) you realise it's David Lynch, or (2) when the disc comes fully with a guidebook of clues and information about this and that, or (3) there are whole books, websites, seminars, and a whole bunch of people around the world talking about it devoted to the material, and (4) when there is still more to learn after numerous repeat viewings.
1. Quentin Tarantino and Red Apple:

Red Apple is a brand of cigarette "invented" by Quentin Tarantino for his movies. Here are some references:

Give me a pack of Red Apple?" says Butch to Paul (the bartender in Pulp Fiction)

Mia Wallace smokes in Jackrabbit Slim's and the packet is again "Red Apple"

This is what the prop looks like-
The brand appears in many other Tarantino movies as well. Here are some more examples:

Four Rooms (two noticeable instances)

Kill Bill

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion

Am pretty sure this is common knowledge among Tarantino Fans. It was quite a kick to discover this.

Will add more about other directors soon.
Atul MohanAtul Mohan, Applications Engineer,Tech Jun... (more)
1 upvote by Thomas Hemsley.
The final ballet performance in the movie : Black Swan deserves a mention here. The entire stage was designed to perfection, I felt like I'm watching a real ballet performance, when I saw this movie in the theaters.
Gord BoyesGord Boyes, Likes: Writing, Jazz (Miles Da... (more)
1 upvote by Thomas Hemsley.
The modelling, filming, and sound editing techniques used in the battle scenes in the making of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back were phenomenal for their time. Some of those techniques that Lucas and his people invented back in the 70’s and early 80’s are still used today which is remarkable in itself. Talk about attention to detail, wow! Gord.
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