View Full Version : How much do you notice continuity errors?

05-28-2006, 05:39 PM
Chole and I were discussing our upcoming film project and began discussing continuity. Things like drink levels or an actors hair or the little details which sometimes vary from take to take. We know there are sites devoted to listing movies every single fault, but we were wondering what the average person notices and what spoils the scene. We'd be interested in any general thoughts as well as specific examples of continuity goofs that just flew all over you. Thanks.


05-28-2006, 05:48 PM
I don't notice them. Not much anyway. If I did, it would have to be really obvious.

05-28-2006, 06:41 PM
I notice some of them, but they are usually too trivial to worry about (unless it's something like Cutthroat Island, where an entire crew of a ship seems to have been marooned for no particular reason). However, the little things are amusing, but not likely to ruin my enjoyment of the film.

05-28-2006, 06:52 PM
Count me in the usually don't notice--don't spoil my enjoyment--don't understand why some people take so much enjoyment out of looking for minor details that aren't constant throughout a scene . . .

Though it drove me buggy when a major character was called Matt rather than Max once in a conversation in a book I read recently. (Another major character is called Matt. )

Kamino Neko
05-28-2006, 07:23 PM
I pretty much don't notice the sort of thing mentioned in the OP - minor shot to shot continuity. I'm just not that detail oriented.

I mostly only notice story errors, and whether they hurt my enjoyment of the movie depends why I'm enjoying it, and how major it is.

05-28-2006, 07:23 PM
I would have to see a program or movie a lot of times to be able to nitpick the stuff that isn't the story and demanding my attention.

My wife pointed out a continuity error in the Star Trek series she's watching on videotape. In a scene, Sisko is speaking, standing, arms folded. Then he unfolds his arms. Cut to a one-shot of the alien he's speaking to for one sentence, then back to Sisko, who has his arms folded.

Phantom Dennis
05-28-2006, 08:10 PM
I tend to be focused on the story, so any continuity errors I notice will be based on the plot (hey, wasn't that guy killed in an earlier scene?). Inconsequential stuff like drink levels just don't register on my radar screen. I might notice something more conspicuous like an action hero with a facial cut or bruise that changes position or shape between scenes, but as long as I'm enjoying the movie, it doesn't bother me.

IMHO, the folks on IMDB who go through movies searching for every tiny little goof are probably way more anal retentive than your average audience memeber.

Rachael Rage
05-28-2006, 08:21 PM
In a scene, Sisko is speaking, standing, arms folded. Then he unfolds his arms. Cut to a one-shot of the alien he's speaking to for one sentence, then back to Sisko, who has his arms folded. I don't tend to notice drink levels or length of cigarette ash (provided anyone smokes in movies anymore), unless the drink/cigarette are really prominent in the scene. OTOH, I often notice minor changes in arm, hand and hair placement, such as described above, on the first viewing. If an actor brings his hands to his face during a line, then cuts back to the hands down and he brings them up again on a different line, that stuff drives me bats. Not so much that it ruins the movie for me, but it takes me out of it for a moment, and that's not what you want.

Of course, better to sacrifice continuity, if necessary, in favor of the best-performed takes, I would think.

05-28-2006, 08:27 PM
I don't notice them often, though I can't say how that relates to how many there actually are. I wouldn't say that they ruin the experience for me (I was able to thoroughly enjoy the first Harry Potter movie despite Hermoine's roots changing lengths randomly all year), but it will pull me out for a second or two. In their own way though, some of these goofs just add a little character to a film, the way that dents and scratches add character to an old desk.

05-28-2006, 08:33 PM
It depends. Most side item continuity errors go right by. Others, especially if central to the story or the visual bug me a lot. Historical anachronisms especially. If I know the accuracy, I don't see why a director can't do a little research.

05-28-2006, 09:06 PM
If I notice it, it has to be big (or else I'm incredibly bored).

05-28-2006, 10:55 PM
Depends on the size of the goof. I notice a lot of stuff like arm placement, the orientation of mug handles, mostly minor stuff. I don't have the sort of technical knowledge to allow me to pick apart that sort of error (although I did catch one about a firearm once and was inordinately proud of myself). They generally don't bother me and I like submitting them to IMDB so as long as it's not something egregiously awful it doesn't bother me.

I spotted one in X3 today which I knew was going to happen. After Wolverine fights the bone spur throwing mutant he has two bloody holes in his undershirt; in the next scene with Jean and Magneto they're gone. As soon as the first part of that happened I knew the second part would too.

05-28-2006, 11:04 PM
I have to say I don't mind physical errors as much as plot errors. Like on TV I hate it when no one in Hollywood seems to realize that in shows that take place in the central time zone cities PRIME TIME is 7pm-10pm. There NEVER is an 11 o'clock news.

One thing I used to notice a lot in films from the 70s, is the telephone booths would say Pacific Bell, regardless of the locale

Lynn Bodoni
05-28-2006, 11:11 PM
I don't look for them, but I notice them anyway, and they bother me. Factual errors will also bother me, even if I'm not trying to find a fault in the movie or book.

I managed to spoil my father's enjoyment of Star Trek by getting up in disgust and sneering that everyone knew that there's no sound (or sound effects) in space. I wasn't quite sophisticated enough back then to argue against the likelyhood of Spock's existence, but I was only about 10 at the time, I believe.

05-28-2006, 11:18 PM
I tend to catch them... and have made somewhat of a game of it.... Of course, if the story or pace of the movie are good, I generally wont point them out (if I even catch them).

My all time favorite for "spot the goof" has got to be Twister.... that movies got more goofs than any other that I can think of.

05-28-2006, 11:44 PM
I notice hair changes. Frank Langella's hair in Dracula went through some major (to me) changes -- shouldn't a vampire's hair be the same, always?

John Travolta's dancing partner in Saturday Night Fever -- her hair changed too often. Made me wonder about the filming sequence.

Usually I only notice if something draws my attention to it. On Deadwood, there's a scene where Calamity Jane is watching Dan and Doc Cochran leave Doc's office, and she says (to Charlie Utter) in a panic: "Why's he got his hand on the doc?" But Dan didn't have his hand on the Doc. I guess he was supposed to be touching the doc but didn't.

cactus waltz
05-29-2006, 12:36 AM
miss Cactus usually takes note of any continuity error regarding clothes. It's a bit distracting, but it doesn't ruin the experience for me.

05-29-2006, 05:19 AM
Anachronisms I tend to notice on the first viewing (e.g. use of stirrups in Gladiator), but continuity errors usually don't get spotted until subsequent viewings. Unless the movie's that bad that I switch to nitpicking mode.

05-29-2006, 06:06 AM
I generally pick up on hand/arm position, drink levels, prop placement, things like that only if the show is particularly bad or not too compelling. The more bored I am, the more that sort of thing catches my eye.

Illogical plot lines drive me crazy when the story is taking itself seriously. What I expect from a movie like Spaceballs is way different from what I'd expected from Signs. I get just a bit snarky about movies which are too full of themselves when they goof. Criminy, if you want me to suspend disbelief, at least try to be logical.

Mostly, I don't like movies or TV.

05-29-2006, 01:57 PM
I am pretty much OK with minor continuity errors within a movie.

However, (slight hijack) I notice them very much between sequels/continuing movies.

When a follow-on does not keep continuity, I just call BS and quit watching it.

In case you don't know what I'm saying, here's an example:

In what I think was the next to last "Little House" movie, we had a situation where ..uh, I thin it was Albert--feel frre to correct this--...was addicted to morphine or something, and the TV movie ended with words like:

"...until Albert returned as DOCTOR Ablert xxx."

In the next TV movie, the sucker DIED. I went all through this thing confident, proselytizing that Albert was not gonna die. Hey, guess what? Sucker died.

I felt raped. Lied to, lied to, LIED to. What a POS.

05-29-2006, 03:07 PM
There's one in The King and I that I can't help but laugh at. Yul Brynner is singing (can't remember what song now) and he's wearing an earring. He turns his head away at one point, and when he turns back, the earring is gone. A little bit later, the earring returns. For some reason, this struck me as funny, rather than irritating.

But it gets on my nerves watching Kill Bill, Volume 2--the part when Beatrix slashes Elle across the face twice on each side (you do see the four slash marks), then a few seconds later, there's only one mark on each side of her face.

The thing that bothers me most about Little House on the Prairie is how they used the same actor for multiple episodes--playing different characters. For example, Leslie Landon appeared in three different roles (at least!): One as the young pregnant woman travelling with Mary and Adam when they had the stagecoach accident, one as a diswasher working with Laura when she and Eliza Jane attended some type of seminar in Arizona (IIRC), and finally, she was Miss Etta Plum, teacher of Walnut Grove school when Laura retired. I suppose this was less noticeable during the show's initial run (when episodes were a week apart!), but now that it's in syndication, it's VERY apparent, and I find it VERY annoying!

05-29-2006, 03:28 PM
I can't remember ever noticing. I'm there to see the movie, not look for errors.

05-29-2006, 03:37 PM
I don't know that you'd call it a continuity error, but an episode of Liberty Kids that showed George Washington mounting a horse from the right side made me unable to concentrate on anything else for like 10 minutes.

05-29-2006, 04:19 PM
The thing that bothers me most about Little House on the Prairie is how they used the same actor for multiple episodes--playing different characters.
Never watch Law & Order.

05-29-2006, 04:25 PM
I never really noticed any major continuity errors until "The Da Vinci Code" and the ever changing light outside the window during Ian McKellan's exposition speech.

05-29-2006, 05:39 PM
Never watch Law & Order.
I was just thinking that. I love SVU, and I almost always recognize the guest stars and try to figure out what other episodes I know them from.

05-29-2006, 07:58 PM
To my recollection, I've only noticed a continuity error once while watching TV. There's an episode of Seinfeld where George is talking while wearing a shirt with buttons, and as they cut back to him his shirt goes from buttoned to unbuttoned and back again several times.

05-30-2006, 08:46 PM
I can still remember the first ever continuity error I actually noticed: Mr. Hyde's hat magically returning itself to his head (after falling off) during a fight scene in the Spencer Tracy version of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde".

I've noticed a handful of continuity errors since. They can't spoil the movie for me if the movie is any good. Now, blatant historical errors and anachronisms, or characters doing stupid things for no reason except to move the plot along--that's another matter.

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