R2-D2 and C-3PO Briefly Appear in Raiders of the Lost Ark

George Lucas is obviously best known for the Star Wars films, and fans of Steven Spielberg can list any number of brilliant cinematic spectacles from the Bearded One. But the most fruitful collaboration between the two is the Indiana Jones saga.

As a nod to each other’s work, both dropped so-called easter eggs within each movie for fans to discover. Everyone’s favorite droids from a galaxy far, far away—R2-D2 and C-3PO—appear in Raiders of the Lost Ark…in our very own galaxy, in a time not too long ago.

R2 and 3PO pop up not once, but twice in the scene where Indy and Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) descend into the Well of the Souls. The most visible example occurs just as the two lift a giant stone slab aside to reveal the titular Ark. Look at the stone pillar just to the left of Indy and you’ll see two hieroglyphics that look suspiciously like the droids.

The second example is fairly hard to see, but occurs just as Indy and Sallah lift the Ark out of its case in the same scene. Look directly towards the back wall in the shot that features Sallah on the left and Indy on the right. You’ll see a bigger hieroglyph of what looks like Princess Leia uploading the plans to the Death Star into R2-D2, with C-3PO standing in back of them.

The Star Wars and Indiana Jones films are filled with these types of winks between Spielberg and Lucas. In Raiders of the Lost Ark, the plane that Indy uses to escape from the evil Belloq and the native Hovitos warriors features the call sign “OB-CPO” along the side, in reference to Obi Wan Kenobi and C-3PO from Star Wars.

Then, in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indy escapes again—this time from a Shanghai nightclub called “Club Obi Wan.”

If you want to go even further, Lucas even tends to include a nod to himself throughout his films by hiding variations of the number 1138—a reference to his first film, THX 1138—in different places in different films. It’s the license plate number of John Milner’s hot-rod in American Graffiti, cell block 1138 is where Princess Leia is held prisoner in A New Hope, it's the number of a Battle Droid in The Phantom Menace, and so on.

The list of the slightly hidden interconnected nods to each other’s films goes on and on—let’s not even get into the Wilhelm Scream—and shows both a mutual appreciation and an understanding that all of these films have transcended their stories and have truly become staples of modern popular culture.

[via Wayne Stevens]

5 Film Transitions Worth Knowing

You see them every day, on TV shows, the news, and in movies, but how well do you know the most oft-used film transitions? Here are the big five:


The dissolve is an editing technique where one clip seems to fade—or dissolve—into the next. As the first clip is fading out, getting lighter and lighter, the second clip starts fading in, becoming more and more prominent. The process usually happens so subtly and so quickly, the viewer isn't even aware of the transition. The above video offers a great overview of the cut, with examples.


This transition is the opposite of the dissolve in that it draws attention to itself. The best example of the wipe is what's known as the Iris Wipe, which you usually find in silent films, like Buster Keaton's or the Merrie Melodies cartoons—the circle getting smaller and smaller. Other wipe shapes include stars, diamonds, and the old turning clock.

The Star Wars films are chock-full of attention-grabbing wipes. Here are two good examples from The Empire Strikes Back. The first shows the clock wipe; the second, the diagonal wipe (pay no attention to the broken blocks at the start of the second clip—that's a technical glitch, not part of the film).


As the name implies, in the basic cutaway, the filmmaker is moving from the action to something else, and then coming back to the action. Cutaways are used to edit out boring shots (like people driving to their destination—why not see what the character is seeing or even thinking sometimes?) or add action to a sequence by changing the pace of the footage. My favorite use of the cutaway is in Family Guy, where the technique is used to insert throwaway gags. Here's a great example:


The L Cut, also called a split edit, is a very cool technique whose name dates back to the old analog film days.

The audio track on a strip of celluloid film runs along the side, near the sprocket holes. In the L Cut transition, the editor traditionally cut the picture frames out of the strip, but left the narrow audio track intact, thus creating an L-shape out of the film. A different camera angle, or scene was then spliced into the spot where the old picture was, so the audio from the old footage was now cut over the new footage.

Of course, with digital editing, one doesn't need to physically cut anything anymore, but the transition is still widely used, and the name has remained the same.

Split edits like these are especially effective in portraying conversations. Imagine how a simple conversation between two people might look if all we ever got was a ping-pong edit back and forth between the two people talking. The L cut allows the viewer to read the emotion on the listener's face, as the dialogue continues over, as we see in this clip from Ferris Bueller's Day Off:


The fade in and fade out usually signal the beginning or end of a scene, especially if the filmmaker is fading to/from black. This is the most common, of course, but fading to white has become trendy, too. The opening title sequence from the HBO series Six Feet Under featured many fades to black and a couple brief fades to white. The very last bit in the sequence fades slowly to white, and is my all-time favorite example of the transition:

science fiction
Why So Many Aliens in Pop Culture Look Familiar

Aliens have been depicted countless times in cinema, from Georges Méliès's A Trip to the Moon (1902) to James Cameron's Avatar (2009). But despite the advancements in special-effects technology over the past century, most aliens we see on screen still share a lot of similarities—mainly, they look, move, and interact with the world like humans do. Vox explains how the classic alien look came to be in their new video below.

When you picture an alien, you may imagine a being with reptilian skin or big, black eyes, but the basic components of a human body—two arms, two legs, and a head with a face—are likely all there. In reality, finding an intelligent creature that evolved all those same features on a planet millions of light-years away would be an extraordinary coincidence. If alien life does exist, it may not look like anything we've ever seen on Earth.

But when it comes to science fiction, accuracy isn't always the goal. Creating an alien character humans can relate to may take priority. Or, the alien's design may need to work as a suit that can be worn by human performers. The result is a version of extraterrestrial life that looks alien— but not too alien—to movie audiences.

So if aliens probably won't have four limbs, two eyes, and a mouth, what would they look like if we ever met them person? These experts have some theories.

[h/t Vox]


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