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Subliminal Messages in Movies

Tulika Nair
Have you ever had a sudden craving for a food item while watching a movie? Subliminal messages may be responsible for the craving. Here, we will tell you all about subliminal messages and their use in films.
What are subliminal messages? Why would someone insert them in films? And when did this phenomenon first gain the importance it enjoys today? In order to understand the importance of subliminal messages, it is important to understand the concept of subliminal perception and stimuli.
In the simplest terms, subliminal stimuli are stimuli that cannot be perceived in ordinary circumstances. The perception levels for subliminal stimuli are much below the threshold for conscious perception. This is because in case of visual stimuli, the messages are more often than not flashed in quick succession or edited into movies and videos.
These messages do not allow the viewer any time to process the information. In case of audio stimuli, the messages are often either garbled or reversed. The basic principles of subliminal messages came to the fore in 1897 when a Yale psychologist published a theory regarding the same.
But it became a controversial subject when in 1957, advertisers and marketing professionals used the same to persuade consumers and customers to their benefit. Of course, since then research has said that subliminal messages in advertising are not as effective as earlier claimed.

Examples of Subliminal Messages in Films

Subliminal messages, especially in movies have a long history. The reason for the same is still a little unclear since there is no real benefit that movies can have with subliminal messages.
In this section, we give a list of some of the best known examples of subliminal messages in the cinematic world. Surprisingly, most examples of this concept are from the category of subliminal messages in kids' movies.
• The movie Fight Club is often quoted when it comes to subliminal perception. Not only do you have claims that one of the characters (Tyler Durden played by Brad Pitt) shows up in a frame, three times before being actually introduced in the movie, there is also the fact that the same character uses the concept by inserting images of a phallus in a movie.
• If you play the movie Gladiator at a reduced pace, you will notice the word Kennedy flash on the screen, just as the character of Maximus is being taken away to be executed. This is repeated in the movie, when Maximus is stabbed by Commodus.
• Subliminal messages in Disney movies have been a focus of controversy for a long time now. There are activists who have listed out many movies from the Disney stable that have subliminal messages with adult content. It is believed that there is a scene in the move, Aladdin, where the audio message, Good teenagers, take off your clothes is being whispered.
• Another Disney example that came under fire for discretionary content is The Lion King. Some people claim that in the scene where Simba watches his father die, you can see the word sex form in the clouds above. Disney claims that the word that is formed is SFX, and is a signature move by the animation team.
• Another movie which is a great example of the use of subliminal messages is the Silence of The Lambs. The scene where Clarice is walked in to meet Hannibal Lecter, there is a figure that can be seen watching them. This figure has a very menacing effect on the entire scene.
• Stanley Kubrick used audio subliminal messaging in his movie, Eyes Wide Shut, when in the song Masked Ball which plays during a satanic ritual display, you can hear a Latin liturgy if you hear closely.
• Another good example is the movie Cloverfield, but in this case you need to wait till the end of the movie, after the rolling of the credits. You can hear a garbled radio signal. When played backwards, you can hear a man breathing heavily and then whispering the words, It's still alive.
• Viewers have also claimed that in the movie, Spiderman, you can see images of the World Trade Center reflected in Spiderman's eyes.

These messages in movies do not serve the same purpose as subliminal advertising but these examples are more famous. Hopefully, this information has been helpful in understanding the concept.