The best movies are the ones that make us think and give us something to talk about long after the credits roll. Yes, sometimes these unanswered questions can be infuriating, and might actually make us like a movie less. But, in general, most movie fans love being able to chew the fact with other fans about their theories, or about certain things that bugged them in movies.
Often that is the reason directors or writers will throw these questions in, as talking points. There are plenty of iconic movies over the years that have had questions that weren’t resolved by the end. Sometimes the dangling thread is just poor filmmaking, other times it’s deliberate – and sometimes the answer doesn’t matter, it’s the question that’s more important. These are some of the biggest unanswered questions in cinema. Warning contains spoilers!
What’s in the briefcase? – Pulp Fiction (1994)
One of the biggest unanswered questions in modern cinema surrounds the contents of the briefcase Jules and Vincent are transporting in Pulp Fiction. Now, we never actually know what is inside the case, and in many ways, it doesn’t really matter. There have been many theories about this over the years – our favorite is that it contains Marcellus Wallace’s soul, and that’s why he has the plaster on the back of his head. But, we’ll never know for sure if that’s right, and Tarantino has been very secretive about it!
Who is Snoke? – The Last Jedi (2017)
In the build-up to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, one of the biggest questions people had going in was the identity of Supreme Leader Snoke. Many believed him to have no affiliation with the Sith whatsoever, while many thought he was legendary Sith Lord Darth Plagueis. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know that the question surrounding his identity is never revealed. With Snoke meeting his demise midway through the flick, it seems unlikely we’ll ever know unless we get a novel or comic book that delves into his past.
Is Cobb still dreaming? – Inception (2010)
One of the most intelligent and forward-thinking movies in recent times was Christopher Nolan’s Inception. The story follows a group of thieves as they try to plant an idea in someone’s mind through the process of constructing dreams and then stealing the information from their head. The rub is that the thieves have to be asleep as well, and, if they aren’t careful they may not know whether they’re still dreaming. Leonardo DiCaprio’s protagonist Dom Cobb has a dream totem in the form of a spinning top – the idea that it eventually stops turning in real life, but spins forever in the dreamscape. The ending of the movie holds on Cobb’s spinning top, just after he reunites with his kids, and the top wobbles slightly before the screen cuts to black. Deliberate and sneaky Nolan! And we may never know the true outcome – it’s up to us to decide.
These are just a few of the big ones we can think of that drive us mad after the fact. We still love the movies, and we love these elements within them as well. But they didn’t half get us talking at the end, and discussing theories of what they might mean with others. Sure, they are annoying, but they entertained, generated discussion, and that’s the point of cinema.