5

For example, in The DaVinci Code (movie), there's an upside-down pyramid shown at the beginning of the movie. When the movie comes to an end, the whole story kind of "gathers" around this pyramid. I can't explain it properly, but it's to do with of the "Holy Grail" being (possibly) found under the pyramid.
So, the pyramid in The DaVinci Code is [INSERT THE WORD HERE].

Please help me find this word.

2
  • a telltale sign ?
    – Graffito
    Oct 14 '15 at 20:38
  • 2
    Do you just mean foreshadowing?
    – spacetyper
    Oct 14 '15 at 21:59
6

I think this is typically called a "foreshadowing" element or maybe "planting and payoff." It's a staple of James Bond movies -- and it's everywhere in the Back to the Future trilogy.

4

"Chekhov's Gun" After Anton Chekhov, the playwright. The idea is usually paraphrased as "If you show a gun in the first act, it must be fired by the last."

"Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there." — Anton Chekhov -

6
  • 3
    TvTropes has a whole set of variations on Chekhov's Gun: Chekov's Gunman (when it's a person, not an object), Chekov's News (when it's a news report in the background), etc. Warning: You may lose several hours of your life if you click that link.
    – Bobson
    Oct 15 '15 at 3:45
  • 2
    @Bobson, many, many, many hours..
    – Cyphase
    Oct 15 '15 at 7:07
  • 3
    Yes, it's addictively fascinating. Extensive cross-referencing makes it almost impossible to extricate yourself, or to even remember what you were originally seeking. Oct 15 '15 at 7:35
  • 1
    @Bobson, damn you, it happened again! Almost another whole hour spent traipsing through tropes! :D
    – Cyphase
    Oct 15 '15 at 7:58
  • 2
    ...irresistible, here I go ...
    – Dan
    Oct 15 '15 at 20:44
2

If you're trying to convey that the early image of the pyramid could be used (by attentive audiences) to solve the mystery present in the film, you might call it an easter egg, which Urban Dictionary defines as

"A hidden item placed in a movie, television show, or otherwise visual media for close watchers"

As an example of an easter egg, consider a scene from the movie Fight Club [warning! spoilers]. In the scene, the protagonist receives a call on a payphone, despite the fact that a sign on the payphone reads "No incoming calls allowed". This clues the audience in that the protagonist is hallucinating, but it is very unlikely to be noticed.

If the early image doesn't help you solve the mystery, you might just call it foreshadowing (in some weak sense). If the pyramidal imagery shows up throughout the work, you might try motif.

2
  • 5
    Hmm, that isn't how I'd use the term "easter egg." For me, an easter egg is an interesting detail included for people with sharp eyes, that is irrelevant to the plot of the movie as a whole. For example, cameos of famous people. If it's foreshadowing important plot points, it's not an easter egg.
    – herisson
    Oct 14 '15 at 19:44
  • 1
    Sometimes it's used to mean an irrelevant but interesting detail. But it is also used to mean likely unnoticed details that will clue you into a resolution or acquire an ironic significance on re-watching. That 'easter egg' is not contradictory with 'foreshadowing' is corroborated by this quote: "Throughout Breaking Bad's run, show-creator Vince Gilligan and his team of writers slipped in an innumerable amoung of 'Easter Eggs' foreshadowing future events in the popular television series" (from whatculture.com/tv/…)
    – DyingIsFun
    Oct 14 '15 at 19:53
0

I'd say the pyramid turns out to be pivotal to the story.

Of crucial importance in relation to the development or success of something else:
'Japan’s pivotal role in the world economy'

Reference:
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/pivotal

-3

Apparently, it's called a MacGuffin (thanks google).

See Wikipedia

An example would be rosebud from Citizen Kane

7
  • 1
    A MacGuffin is a narrative strand that seems to be important but turns out not be (e.g. Janet Leigh stealing money in Psycho)
    – Dan
    Oct 14 '15 at 21:09
  • 3
    @Dan You're thinking of a red herring. Please read the Wikipedia entry. Oct 14 '15 at 21:20
  • 2
    @Dan: As I understand it, a MacGuffin is important to the plot. What's unimportant is the precise identity of the MacGuffin. For example, in the Citizen Kane example, the key word could have been "Bluebell" or whatever; the important thing is that it exists and what it represents, not what it actually is. Public wireless: I don't see a huge link between MacGuffins and 'hints': a MacGuffin can be non-mysterious.
    – herisson
    Oct 14 '15 at 22:06
  • 1
    Occasionally a MacGuffin is also be a red herring, meaning that it's not actually as important as the characters think it is. But that's the exception to the rule. The rule is that it's legitimately important enough to the characters to drive the plot. It's only the specific form or content of the item that is not be important to the director or audience.
    – stannius
    Oct 14 '15 at 23:58
  • 2
    Also it's definitely not as subtle as what the OP is looking for. A MacGuffin is central to the plot, and is probably talked about incessantly.
    – stannius
    Oct 15 '15 at 18:34

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