The first trailer for Passengers, the upcoming cerebral space thriller starring America’s sweethearts Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, suggested there was more to the movie’s plot than meets the eye. The same goes for the film’s poster, because there’s a hidden message smack dab in the middle of it.
In the movie, Lawrence and Pratt are, uh, passengers on a large spacecraft embarking on a 100-year journey to a distant planet. Everyone is suspended in hibernation chambers for the duration of the trip, but they’re mistakenly woken up 90 years too early. Trapped on the vessel, they’re stranded and seemingly doomed to death by old age (or worse) before the spacecraft ever gets where it’s going…unless something catastrophic happens before that.
In short, they need help, and what do you do when you’re stranded on a ship and need help? You send out an SOS. That’s exactly what they did on the poster.
The artistic pattern of dots and dashes underneath the film’s title are actually Morse code spelling out SOS.
The universally recognized cry for help dates back to the early 20th Century when seamen gained access to wireless radiotelegraph and the ability to communicate across a distance. While different countries initially had different distress signals, Germany’s “. . . - - - . . .” soon became the standard, because it’s easy to send and hard to misinterpret.
SOS is actually a backronym. “Save Our Ship,” came after the dots and dashes, not the other way around, but in morse code, “. . .” means “S” and “- - -“ means “O.”
The design on the poster isn’t just an artistic flourish. It’s a hidden distress call. Maybe this means that Lawrence and Chris are going to try to call for help in the movie rather than just be passive…passengers.
But that begs the question: Who is going to respond to them if they send an SOS?