There’s something special about a good movie. I don’t mean a critically acclaimed movie, necessarily—although, sure, those are good—I mean any movie you personally enjoy, whether you’re into rom-coms, horror flicks, time-pieces, or animated features. But what is that special something? Perhaps it’s the way a good movie is able to whisk you away. It pulls you into another universe, consuming your mind so fully that you completely forget about the anxieties of daily life for an hour, or two, or three. Or, maybe it’s simply the storytelling, since, as humans, we’re predisposed to preferring narrative communication.
Whatever that special something is, the result of it is simple: we love movies. We love them so much that in 2017, the average Netflix user watched 60 movies on the streaming platform. Sixty movies in a year, not counting anything they saw in theatres or watched outside of Netflix. That’s a lot of film. We spend so much time consuming these stories that, for many of us, they become important parts of our lives. Movies inspire us; they teach us lessons about life. So it’s only natural that they’re the inspiration behind many tattoos, too Here we’re sharing 15 of our favorite movie tattoos.
1. Jurassic Park
When Jurassic Park hit theatres in 1993 it was an instant hit. In fact, it went on to become the highest-grossing film that year, and, at the time, the highest-grossing film ever (until 1997, when Titanic broke its record). Now, 27 years later, it continues to stand the test of time. You would think the special effects in an early ‘90s movie about dinosaurs would age poorly, but they’re still pretty damn impressive. So to show their love for the classic film, this client opted to get a tattoo from Italian artist Mattia, AKA Mambo Tattooer, of the movie’s iconic, branded Jeep Wrangler—the car used to navigate the park (and speed away from hungry, carnivorous dinos).
2. Harry Potter
The phrase in the above tattoo is a magical incantation known as the Patronus charm, a powerful defensive charm from the Harry Potter series that can only be conjured up by recalling your happiest memories. And the cute text piece combines the well-known, lightning bolt-inspired Harry Potter font with classic images from the movies like the Sorting Hat, Golden Snitch, and Time-Turner. Done by Seyoon Kim, an artist based in Switzerland, this is basically the perfect tattoo for a diehard Potterhead (but if you don’t love this one, don’t worry, we have an entire gallery filled with other Harry Potter tattoos, too).
Tim Burton is known for his signature darkly comedic films including Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, and, of course, 1988’s Beetlejuice. The last of those is a movie that quickly cemented itself as a cult classic—there are events inspired by Beetlejuice, there was a TV spinoff, heck, there’s even a Broadway musical based on the film. To celebrate the supernatural comedy, in which a recently deceased couple haunt the inhabitants of their former home, this client got a cool, American Traditional style calf tattoo of its central character—the ghost for which the movie is named—from Montreal-based artist Elisia Lee.
4. Forrest Gump
Just last weekend, Tom Hanks won a lifetime achievement award for his long, illustrious career as an actor. He’s starred in many iconic films over the course of his 40-year film career, including the title role in 1994’s Forrest Gump. The bench pictured above is central to the movie—Forrest sits on it and recounts his entire life story to strangers waiting at a bus stop. So it makes sense that this fan decided to get a still of Forrest sitting on the bench (the same still used in the movie’s promotional posters) tattooed to commemorate her love for the film. The black and grey realism piece—which includes lots of great white ink detailing—was done by Yeono, a South Korean tattoo artist.
5. The Silence of the Lambs
If you’re into thrillers and suspense, maybe a tattoo inspired by The Silence of the Lambs would be more up your alley. This American traditional style take on the mask Hannibal Lecter is forced to don throughout the film—because he’s a cannibalistic killer, the cops make him cover his mouth when he’s around other people—was done by Renae Tedesco, an apprentice at Anchored Arts Tattoo in Australia.
Joaquin Phoenix is arguably one of the most talented actors of his generation; he’s also a bit of a mystery. The Los Angeles Times, described him as “one of Hollywood’s most confounding leading men—brilliant or erratic, ‘difficult’ or misunderstood, depending on who you ask.” And his brilliant mystery has led him to nail performances in many critically acclaimed films including 2019’s Joker—for which he just won a Golden Globe—and 2013’s Her. This sketch style tattoo by Doha, an artist based in Seoul, is a very unique take on Phoenix’s character from Her, a man named Theodore Twombly who falls in love with his phone’s artificially intelligent operating system.
7. Pulp Fiction
In rankings of Quentin Tarantino’s movies, most critics and entertainment publications—including Variety, Esquire, and Vulture—agree that Pulp Fiction is his best piece to date. There are endless memorable scenes and quotable lines in the film, but one of the best is when Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega (played by Uma Thurman and John Travolta) compete in a dance competition. Capturing them mid-twist, this color realism piece by Tel Aviv based artist Eden Kozo is a stunning representation of the pair dancing, and might just be one of our favorite movie tattoos on this list.
8. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, is another movie that, for a while (until the release of Jurassic Park, in fact), was the highest grossing film of all time. It’s hard not to love the story of a weird little alien who gets stranded on Earth and befriends a young boy, Elliot, who helps the extraterrestrial escape government captive and eventually make its way back home. But one day while Elliot is out, his sister Gertie (played by Drew Barrymore) gets her hands on E.T. and dresses it up in the pretty little outfit—complete with a wig, hat and scarf—pictured in this bicep tattoo by Toronto-based artist Sabrina Parolin.
9. Beauty and the Beast
What’s more classic than a Disney tattoo? This impressive Beauty and the Beast inspired design was done by Brazil’s Duda Lozano, who is one of the most popular embroidery style tattoo artists on Instagram. Embroidery tattoos are relatively new, but they’re quickly becoming so popular that we’ve predicted they’ll be one of the top 2020 tattoo trends.
10. The Truman Show
French artist, Yny, is a master of minimal, cubism tattoos. The tattoo style is inspired by the work of artists like Picasso, whose designs were crafted largely from geometric outlines and cubes. Here, the tattooer uses minimal black linework and bright color blocking to depict the final scene of The Truman Show, the 1998 film starring Jim Carrey. The design’s abstract nature makes it one of the most unique movie tattoos on this list.
11. Léon: The Professional
Natalie Portman’s film debut, Léon: The Professional, is a cult classic. After her character, Mathilda, comes home to find that her entire family has been murdered while she was grocery shopping, she vows to avenge their deaths. With the help of Léon, a hitman who trains her as his protegeé, she does exactly that. At just 12 years old, Mathilda is incredibly badass, which is, perhaps, the allure of her character, pictured in this blackwork portrait tattoo by Polish artist Iza Marczyk.
When it comes to mob movies, the director-actor dream team has always been Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro. They’ve collaborated on 10 films over the course of their careers, including Casino, the 1995 Las Vegas casino-crime drama. While I’ve never seen the film, GQ gave it a pretty rave review, calling it, “a dazzling period piece…that captures Las Vegas better than any other movie that has come before or after it. While it may not be Marty’s best gangster movie of all time, it is his best epic.” To pay tribute to its genius, this fan got a massive color realism tattoo with scenes from the movie, done by Inal Bersekov (he’s done a bunch of Drake’s tattoos, too).
13. Fight Club
It’s widely known that the first rule of Fight Club is ‘you do not talk about Fight Club.’ So we won’t talk about it here, lest we reveal any spoilers. Instead, we’ll ogle at this stunning watercolor tattoo inspired by the movie, done by Norway-based artist and co-owner of Leap Ink studio, Evie Lee.
14. Little Miss Sunshine
I had to include a design inspired by Little Miss Sunshine in our gallery of movie tattoos because, well, it’s one of my all-time favorite films. It’s about familial love and dysfunction, but it also touches on a wide range of extremely difficult topics—from self-harm and unattainable beauty standards, to bankruptcy and death—in an honest, yet comic way. It’s a movie that makes you feel all the feels. Another funny tidbit about the film is that the family’s van needs to be pushed to get started, which is exactly what’s pictured in this minimal forearm tattoo by Juan Pablo, resident artist at Fury Art Studio in Santiago, Chile.
15. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Here’s a fun fact: The release of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was the catalyst for the creation of the movie rating PG-13. When the film came out in 1984, it was rated PG [parental guidance], but many parents were upset because they thought the movie was too gory—it includes a pretty gruesome heart-removal scene—for such a lenient rating. But after PG, the next, and highest, rating was R [viewers under 17 require parental accompaniment], which felt too harsh for the film. So Indiana Jones’ director Steven Spielberg proposed a new rating: PG-13. Shortly after the movie’s release, the new rating was implemented.
This person clearly didn’t mind the gore though. Their tattoo pictures Indiana Jones and his sidekick in Temple of Doom, an 11 year old boy called Short Round. The fun, cartoony piece was done by Wan, a South Korean tattooist who has designed tons of other movie tattoos, including pieces inspired by Star Wars, Halloween, The Matrix, and The Big Lebowski.
If you liked our gallery of 15 Movie Tattoos Inspired by the Best of the Big Screen, be sure to check out These 13 Star Wars Tattoo Designs.