A guide to DVD Easter eggs

If this time of year always makes you feel guilty due to over-indulging in egg-shaped treats, then maybe you can put those calories to one side for a while and enjoy an entirely different kind of Easter egg. The kind found on DVDs.

So, what exactly are DVD Easter eggs?

This particular type of Easter egg is defined by online dictionary Merriam-Webster as ‘a hidden feature in a commercially released product (such as software or a DVD)’. The first of its kind is believed to have been left by computer game designer Warren Robinett in the 1979 Atari 2600 game ‘Adventure’. 

The introduction of DVD technology in the 90s made it possible to include these hidden features for the first time on movie releases. Usually found by a sequence of button presses or by finding a hidden object to press on a menu, some Easter eggs provide outtakes, others deleted scenes, some additional documentary footage.

Here are some of the best treats you might have in your collection…

Feel the force... well at least he's not advertising phones... oh

George Lucas’ ‘Star Wars’ saga has never shied away from lavishing its fans with hidden treats. Keying in 1138 (a reference to Lucas’ first film ‘THX 1138’) brings up plenty of Easter eggs, from deleted footage to Yoda rapping and street dancing. There’s a tap-dancing Jango Fett as well if that floats your boat.

To get these go to the Options menu on any of the prequel film’s DVDs (2004 widescreen edition), press 11, then wait, press 3, wait, press 8. For the original films go to Video Game & Still Galleries and do the same.

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The US remake of ‘The Ring’ had a predictable but nonetheless cool hidden feature. Scroll down to the bottom of the main menu and your cursor will disappear. Press select and the deadly tape that curses the film’s characters will play out in full. Creepy!

Ridley Scott’s ‘Gladiator’ already has a scene where Russell Crowe’s Maximus fights off a dodgy CGI tiger. It was passable because of the film’s overall quality but there was originally meant to be another scene where he fights off a rhino.

Go to the second page of special features on the film’s bonus disc, click Original Storyboards. On the second page of that select ‘rhino’, then highlight the rhino on screen to see the proposed script for the scene and seven seconds of test footage for the CGI animal (exciting!).

Not so precious... I'd be angry too if MTV gave me that for a trophy

Whilst we’re on the subject of CGI, the special extended edition of ‘Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ contains a special skit made for the MTV Movie Awards where Andy Serkis won  an award for Best Virtual Performance, only to be harassed by his on-screen character Gollum, who gives a colourful acceptance speech of his won. This is worth it just to see the CG character swearing like a sailor. 

To get this highlight Chapter 27 in the scene selection menu of disc one and hit down once.

Pixar have always loaded their films with little nods and winks to their previous or upcoming work and their DVDs are similarly filled with treats for the fans. On the ‘Ratatouille’ DVD’s main menu wait for the rat to appear behind the pots on the left and click on him. This will give you a special retro-styled TV advert Pixar created for Ro-dead: “We kill rats so you don’t have to”.

A cool extra, but not quite as cool as one Christopher Nolan included with his 2010 film ‘Inception’. Insert the Special Features disk of Triple Play Blu Ray copy of the film and enter 528491. A picture of lead character Cobb’s spinning top will appear - click on it to view a motion comic that leads directly into the events at the start of the film.

Dreamscape... A handful of shots from the comic

‘Batman Begins’ has a DVD packed with an incredible amount of bonus content, all hidden away. On the second page of the ‘Inner Demons’ comic (on the disc), press the left button to highlight a piece of wall between Batman and Scarecrow. Press enter and you’ll be treated to an interview with writer David Goyer about how secretive he and Nolan were when writing the film’s script.

In total the film has over 20 of these bonus nuggets, on top of all the advertised special features and of course the great film itself.

It goes to show that not all film-makers are cash hungry and actually do like to reward their fans every once in a while.

Methods on how to find all kinds of DVD Easter Eggs are readily available online.

Happy hunting!