All of the best foreshadowing in movies has one thing in common: it’s incredibly subtle. Usually, it’s achieved in the form of small visual or spoken references to something that will later become relevant. Often, it’s not until we rewatch – or someone points it out to us – that we even notice it was there.
Exactly why audiences love foreshadowing is more complex than one might think. From a narrative point of view, it helps to pre-emptively legitimize an unexpected twist. From a more meta perspective, it’s a nod from the filmmakers to the audience. Either way, when foreshadowing is done right, it’s a thing of beauty.
Regardless of why the device is used, foreshadowing certainly enriches movies. The best foreshadowing is more than just enjoyable – it enhances the story, adding layers to the narrative. Here are 8 of the best examples of movies that foreshadowed their own stories.
8. Jurassic Park
The first Jurassic Park movie became an instant classic upon release, and it’s easy to see why. It’s absolutely packed with unsung heroes and narrative quirks that make it a truly brilliant movie, but it also features some world-class foreshadowing. Early in the film, it’s explained that billionaire Richard Hammond has made sure that all of his dinosaurs are female, ensuring that his cloning process preempts their ability to reproduce. Clever, right?
Well, no, because “life, uh, finds a way“. The frog DNA spliced in with the dinosaurs’ allows for biological flexibility, enabling the dinosaurs to reproduce. However, this is actually foreshadowed early on in the movie: Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) picks up two female seat belt connectors, then simply ties them together. In other words, he took two incompatible females and somehow found a way to get them to achieve their purpose. Sound familiar?
Sam Neill has since publicly attempted to debunk the theory, but it remains compelling. Whether it was intentional or not, it’s still a truly staggering piece of foreshadowing for how events would play out. If the foreshadowing is just a happy coincidence, maybe it really is chaos theory at work.