The 11 Most Confusing Movie Scenes Of All Time
Have you ever finished watching a movie and realized that you're incredibly confused? Some movies just leave you with your head cocked to one side and your eyebrows furrowed in an expression that rivals Liz Lemon's "judgmental badger face." Other movies make sense as a whole, but have certain aspects that stand out as bizarre or baffling. In fact, some of the most confusing movie scenes are those that take place in otherwise easy-to-follow movies; the puzzling nature of these scenes make them stand out like a sore thumb in contrast to the rest of the narrative. And then there are some movies that are just so intentionally weird that you know you shouldn't even bother asking why (even if you still want to).
So what makes for a confusing movie moment? There are a few different categories into which many perplexing films fall. For example, any movie that involves a non-linear narrative may be a challenge to keep up with. Time travel, flashbacks and fast-forwards, a first-person perspective of an unreliable narrator — these can all be tricky to follow. Similarly, movies that are "art films," are based on metaphors, or are stylized in the vein of a certain director are often a little more complicated than your classic rom-com. And finally, foreign films often have scenes that fall outside the Hollywood formula, creating an additional layer of complexity. Want some examples? Check out 11 of the most confusing movie scenes below.
1. Interstellar: The Bookcase-In-Space Scene
The bookcase-in-space scene is pretty mind-boggling, particularly since it comes over two hours into a movie that's already pretty damn heady. It has to do with the multiple time dimensions in Interstellar, but if you're too tired by this point in the film to try to figure out what that means, no one can blame you.
2. Black Swan: The Finale
This critically-acclaimed film from Darren Aronofsky poses a lot of questions and doesn't give a lot of answers. The most confusing scene is probably the very end, where Nina gives a flawless performance as the Swan Queen and then is shown to be bleeding from a stab wound. There are a lot of theories as to what led to this point, as the viewer realizes that Nina's descent into insanity invalidates much of the previous narrative that occurred through her eyes.
3. Gummo: The Dead Cat Scene
Harmony Korine is an odd dude, as anyone who has seen the movie Kids can tell you. But Gummo is a whole other level of weird, containing a litany of confusing and disturbing scenes. In one scene, a shirtless pre-teen boy wearing bunny ears runs through a field holding a dead cat and then wordlessly shows it to the camera. And that is a tame example compared to some other moments in the film.
4. Fight Club: The Penguin Scene
Without ruining the movie for anyone who hasn't seen it, this film features a huge twist towards the end that turns all of the previous narrative on its head. But I actually think that the most confusing scene in the film is when the narrator visualizes himself inside a ice-covered cave where a little penguin instructs him to "slide." OK, Mr. Penguin.
5. Holy Motors: The Kidnapping Scene
One should perhaps know better than to question the logistics of a French-German film, but there's just so much I want to understand about this movie — for example, the scene where a crazed feral man bites off a photographer's assistant's fingers and then kidnaps Eva Mendes.
6. Donnie Darko: The Movie Theater Scene
There are so many moments that could be argued to be the "most confusing" scene in Donnie Darko. The first introduction of Frank the Rabbit, for example. Or when the jet plane engine crashes into Donnie's room at the end as he sits on the floor laughing. But I think that the most confusing scene is Donnie and Frank's interaction in the movie theater when Frank takes off his mask. Meanwhile, Donnie's new girlfriend is asleep in her seat in between them. Awk.
7. Eraserhead: The Entire Film
This black-and-white surrealist film can only be compared to a nightmare you might have if you went to bed after eating expired sushi and binge watching The Twilight Zone. Every scene is super creepy and makes little to no sense.
8. Inception: The Ending
This movie was intentionally layered and complex, but the most confusing scene has to be the ambiguous ending. The spinning top poses the question of whether or not Leo DiCaprio's character is in reality or not, and the screen cuts to black before the viewer is able to get the answer. Damn you, Christopher Nolan.
9. The Tree Of Life: The Dinosaur Scenes
Okay, I understand in theory that the entire movie is a metaphor about "nature versus grace"... but the scenes with the dinosaurs? Were these really necessary to contrast with the narrative of the 1950s Texas family headed by Brad Pitt?
10. Memento: The Flashbacks
Because this movie is told from the jumbled perspective of a narrator who has amnesia, a lot of the scenes don't make perfect sense until the very end. For example, at the beginning the narrator is getting a tattoo of a license plate. In other flashback, a woman is repeatedly given insulin injections by her husband until she enters a coma. The viewer has an understanding of these events through a certain context at the time, but at the end of the film these scenes acquire an entirely different meaning.
11: Looper: The Field Scene
Another movie with time-travel and possible plot holes, Looper has several confusing elements. One of the most perplexing scenes is the final showdown in a field, where it becomes apparent that however the events play out in that moment will determine everyone's fate in the future. And the kid with telekinetic powers is extra creepy in this scene.
If you're more confused after going through all of these movies, well, you're right on track. But that doesn't mean you can't still enjoy them. There's definitely value in watching a good head-scratcher, so pick a couple confusing movie scenes to harp on and you'll have great conversation material for your next cocktail party.
Image: Newmarket Films