Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter Eggs aren't just for the Holiday

When you hear the term "Easter Egg" the first thing that probably comes to mind is a furry bunny hiding colored eggs for children to find.  There is another term for "easter egg" though which can allow you to have fun hunting for things throughout the year rather than just around the Easter holiday.  Originating from a hidden message in the 1979 Atari video game ADVENTURE, the term "Easter Egg" now refers to a concealed joke or message in a video game, television show, or movie.  As with any good Easter Egg hunt, finding these treasures are tough to find and lots of fun when you discover them.

Easter Eggs received a lot of public attention a few years ago when Director J.J. Abrams slipped in an appearance of the Star Wars character R2D2 into his 2009 Star Trek movie.

R2D2 made a repeat appearance in 2013's Star Trek: Into Darkness:

In fact, R2D2 has been a popular Easter Egg that has been slipped in movies ranging from Close Encounters of the Third Kind to Transformers.  Can you spot the droid from Star Wars in this scene from Close Encounters?

R2D2 was also carved into the wood of the pirate ship deck for the movies Goonies.  If you aren't looking you'd probably miss him.

Did you catch him in these scenes from the Transformers movies?

My favorite R2D2 Easter Egg though is the robot's appearance in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  The Egyptian hieroglyphs in some of the scenes contain images of R2D2 with famous golden sidekick C3PO.

Disney, which now owns the rights for the R2D2 character, is known for placing Easter Eggs in their films.  It will be interesting to see if they add some R2D2 appearances in their future productions.  While R2 didn't appear in Disney's most recent animated feature FROZEN, here are a few easter eggs they did add to the film.

In FROZEN, there is a Mickey Mouse toy sitting on the lower shelf of supplies at the Wandering Oaken's Trading Post & Sauna.

An inside joke with the film's production team, during Anna's big song "For the First Time in Forever" she leaps into the air mimicking the pose of the painting "The Swing."  This Rococo-era masterpiece by Jean-Honore Fragonard was credited by the artists who worked on the movie TANGLED as the inspiration for the visual look of their film.

Take a close look and you'll see that they imported the candy from the Land of Sugar Rush in the Disney movie WRECK IT RALPH for the treats at the royal coronation in FROZEN.

In another nod to TANGLED, Rapunzel and Flynn Rider are guests at Elsa's coronation in FROZEN. Some people have even suggest that this ties FROZEN to THE LITTLE MERMAID.  The theory is that Elsa & Anna's parents boat that sunk in FROZEN is the sunken ship in THE LITTLE MERMAID which went down in a storm on its way to the Return Celebration held for Rapunzel in TANGLED.  Rapunzel and Flynn Rider are attending the coronation out of respect for loss of Elsa & Anna's parents relating to their loss at sea.  "The Little Mermaid" was written by Hans Christian Andersen and is set in Denmark.  Andersen also wrote "The Snow Queen" which FROZEN is based on and takes place in Norway.  The story of "Rapunzel" is based in Germany so it appears transit along the path of these three stories would be feasible if they were featured in one combined fairy tale timeline.  Hmmm?

Another Disney acquisition that makes use of Easter Eggs in its films is Pixar.  The creative team is known for slipping "A113" into their movies which has appeared in every Pixar film since TOY STORY.  The inside joke is that this is the classroom number at California Institute of Arts where John Lasseter and his Pixar leadership team learned about animation.  Well in MONSTER'S UNIVERSITY this is the classroom where Mike & Sulley learn the art of scaring.

A Pizza Planet truck appears in almost every Pixar film and MONSTER'S UNIVERSITY is no exception.  The truck made famous in the TOY STORY movies is parked outside the JOX Fraternity house in this movie.

The ball featured in Pixar's first short film "Luxo Jr" has appeared as an Easter Egg in most of the studio's feature films.  In MONSTERS UNIVERSITY the Luxo Ball appears in graffiti on a wall in a scene during the Scare Games first challenge.

Pixar often plants Easter Eggs in its films that tie to an upcoming film.  In MONSTERS INC for example, Pixar teased FINDING NEMO by placing a Nemo doll in Boo's room.  In MONSTER'S UNIVERSITY, dinosaur toys are placed throughout the movie that look like the concept art for an upcoming Pixar movie titled THE GOOD DINOSAUR that was originally slated to hit theaters in 2014 and is now being released in 2015.  Could these be an Easter Egg for things to come?!

Once people are aware that these hidden images are included in movies, Easter Egg hunts can be a fun addition to the enjoyment of a film.  Not all movie related Easter Eggs are on the silver screen though.  Did you know there is a Darth Vader gargoyle included on the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.?

You need binoculars to see it...but Darth Vader is there!  Print out this PDF for more information on how to find him if you are taking a trip to the nation's Capital:  It pays off to always be on the hunt for an Easter Egg! 

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