Continuity Mistakes in Movies and Why You Don't See Them

Noticing movie mistakes feels like finding out how a great magic trick is done. But as with an illusion, the way a movie is shot and cut tends to distract us from those flaws and most of the time we don't even see them.

Continuity is the consistency of what happens in the movie for a certain period. Everything that doesn't seem to match the character, the plot, or the environment is considered a mistake, unless, of course, it was deliberate. There are lots of videos that show famous movie continuity problems and instead of us despising those films, we are fascinated by the fact we didn't see any of those issues. Yeah, you were tricked and you liked it. In this video, This Guy Edits shows you exactly why you fall for those illusions.

Famous films are usually with budgets in millions and there's a member from the crew called a "script supervisor." Their role is to watch out for the continuity consistency such as how full was a glass of water the in the last scene, or where the bruise on the actor's skin was. Despite of that, we see mistakes. Is the script supervisor to blame? How come the director or the editor didn't see those mistakes? Most of the time they really do, but their decision to leave it there is based on using the the best performance take and such flaws are considered negligible especially if the scene is highly emotional and effective.

And if you still don't believe you can be easily tricked, watch the next video:

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John Dawson's picture

The fact that i (an admitted almost-perfectionist and cynic) saw none of the continuity errors in a video about continuity errors tells me that they don't matter.

Andy Immens's picture

The jacket I didnt notice in his first example but the missing marketing adds on the train, i did noticed! But only because i knew to watch it more in detailed

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

I didn't notice any of these but you get the idea. Most of the time these mistakes don't matter unless they are in the area of the screen where we're currenting paying attention at. If this guy was with and without glasses, we would probably notice, because we were focused on his facial expression.

Mark Holtze's picture

Believe me as an editor if there are continuity mistakes in a film we are the first to know about it. Like the video outlines it just doesn’t matter. If you cut a film based on continuity you would be surprised how boring and uninteresting it is. They’re all intentional, sometimes films get completely restructured and shot over months because you realize in the edit the story works better than way than this way.

Nobody ever gets any blame, people do their best to keep the details right but performance and story will always trump a glass of water etc and how full it is.

I remember watching saving private Ryan (a brilliantly directed and cut film) and there is one scene where this guy on the beach is yelling something beside hanks “from shot one to two the guys disappears, lighting changes and Hanks pulls out his weapon from the water protection. The line continues but the guy saying it vanishes.

I’m assuming they cut a chunk of dialog out and went straight t that next page for pacing, but it works and it breaks all the “rules”.

There are tricks to help get around it, but sometimes it’s unavoidabe.

As an editor the moment I let go of continuity really freed my ability to work a scene.

Mike Poole's picture

The train is completely different, but I didn't notice the jacket.

Tihomir Lazarov's picture

Honestly, I didn't notice any of these at first. I noticed the jacket after the guy pointed it out.