Monday, February 28, 2011
THE GREAT FILM EASTER EGG HUNT: HIDDEN TREASURE
Throughout popular culture, virtual Easter eggs work like inside jokes. Little hidden messages and references left lying around for fans to discover, blog about and argue over (and even name their bands after). Some are simple shout outs. Some are more elaborate. Like the Konami Code (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, start), used in games like Contra, Castlevania and Gradius (and on websites like Facebook, Google Reader and Digg). And then there’s Star Wars, with enough virtual Easter Eggs to give even a wookie diabetes.
According to Atari, they coined the term in 1979, when Adventure programmer Warren Robinett popularised the idea using a grey pixel (on a grey background) to lead players into a secret room displaying the words “Created by Warren Robinett.” Obviously, others are laying claim as well.
Another aspect of virtual Easter eggs is hidden features on DVDs: an extra click here, a hidden treasure there. But enough jabbering, here’s a look at a few virtual Easter eggs we find particularly enjoyable.
Pixar movies are notoriously loaded with self-referential Easter eggs. From Pizza Planet and Dinoco, to the Luxo Ball. One of the most popular Pixar Easter eggs is A113, a reference to the graphic design and character animation classroom number at the California Institute of the Arts. To date, the number has turned up in animated shows like American Dad, Tiny Toons, South Park and The Simpsons. And live action films like The Phantom Menace and Terminator Salvation. Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille), who’s used the number in every one of his films and two episodes of The Simpsons, called A113 his “Nina.” A reference to caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, who hid his daughter’s name, Nina, in his drawings.
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