The movie “Wanted” (starring Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman) contains a steganographic message. Can a reader decipher it?

Hiding a code in a movie, TV series or video clip is an interesting means of gaining publicity. Here are the examples I am aware of (if you know others please let me know):

  • I have published several blog posts about the Fair Game code, which is still unsolved.


  • In the TV series Breaking Bad, a character sequence can be seen that might represent a code.






  • In the series Alias, every location name contains a marked letter. In the linear sequence read, these marked letters resulted a word, a hidden meaning of the episode.
  • In the intro of the German TV film Im Namens meines Sohnes a message is hidden. It is easy to solve.


The “Wanted” code

Earlier this year, blog reader Tony Patti informed me about another code hidden in a movie. This one is contained in Wanted, a 2008 thriller staring Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, and James McAvoy. Here’s the trailer:

In the movie, a man named Sloan (Morgan Freeman) explains that 1000 years ago a clan of weavers discovered a mystical code hidden in a fabric. The code is based on mistakes in weave of the vertical threads. If the vertical thread is on top, it’s a “1”; if it’s below, it’s a “0”. Once decoded, the Binary Code reveals the name of the person that would die. Here is an example (thanks to Tony for the screenshot):


I don’t know the message that is encoded here. Can a reader find it? According to Tony, the Bacon cipher was used. The Bacon cipher encodes the alphabet with five binary digits (this picture is taken from Wikipedia):


Here’s another screenshot from the same movie Tony provided me:


As you see, the arm carrying a pistol bears a tattoo showing eight-bit sequences (also known as bytes in computer science). Does a reader know what these bytes mean?

I have searched for detailed information about these two codes online, but I didn’t find anything. If a reader knows more please let me know.

Further reading: The Top 50 unsolved encrypted messages: 29. The Pollaky cryptograms


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Kommentare (13)

  1. #1 Magnus Ekhall
    7. Juli 2018

    The message on the arm looks as if it could be ASCII. If so the three last characters are: MCSN

  2. #2 Gerry and Andrea
    7. Juli 2018

    On other photos the ASCII codes on Angelina Jolie‘s arm are better visible. It has ten letters and starts with BPZM, then P or Q, then T or U, then – like Magnus said – MCSN.

  3. #3 Richard SantaColoma
    7. Juli 2018

    There might be some confusion over Ms. Jolie’s arm tattoo, because she already has… in real life… several tattoos. So which ones are hers, and which ones were applied for her role in Wanted, are not clear.

    But looking at the numbers on her arm, in the image you linked, Klaus, and the movie poster (which shows a slightly different angle), I come up with:

    0100 0010
    0101 0000
    0101 1010
    0100 1101
    0101 0001
    0101 0100(or 1)
    0100 1101
    0100 0011
    0101 0011
    0100 1110

    But the thing is, the words at the top are a real tattoo! They read:


    … and then the binary numbers are stacked below those words, in the movie. So either the numbers are a later tattoo she really got, or added below the words only for the movie… I can’t find them in any pictures of her in “real life”, so I do think they were added.

    By the way, “A PRAYER…” is “a line from Tennessee Williams’s 1941 play Stairs to the Roof adorning her arm: “A prayer for the wild at heart, kept in cages.””


  4. #4 TWO
    Uvalde, Texas
    7. Juli 2018

    ASCII is 7 bits

  5. #5 TWO
    7. Juli 2018

    Maybe as simple as :

    D B
    E I
    D M


    A =1 B =2 and so on

  6. #6 Gerry and Andrea
    7. Juli 2018

    According to an interview of Angelina Jolie with Wired „the binary codes on her arm are a part of the reading of the fabric of the Loom of Fate“. But according to two commenters on the forum BPZMPTMCSN stands for Brad Pitt an her children Zahara Marley, Pax Thien, Maddox Chivan and Shiloh Nouvel:

  7. #7 Richard SantaColoma
    7. Juli 2018

    Gerry and Andrea: Well that cinches it then.. those are also her real tattoos.

    And very interesting to me is that the movie promoters thought to use her genuine tattoos as a design feature in the poster, as an interesting feature… when it turns out, it has nothing to do with the movie at all!

    I mean, as though Ms. Jolie was not interesting enough already…

  8. #8 Gerry and Andrea
    7. Juli 2018

    Well, Angelina has many tattoos, but the binary codes as well as the words TOIL and TEARS on her arms were fake ones just for the film „Wanted“.

  9. #9 TWO
    7. Juli 2018

    Sounds perfectly logical to me.

    She has a real tattoo which is a list of coordinates and here is the explanation of that one :

    N11° 33′ 00″ E104° 51′ 00″ : the place in Cambodia where Angelina Jolie’s eldest son Maddox was born.
    N09° 02′ 00″ E038° 45′ 00″ : the place in Ethiopia were her daughter Zahara was born.
    S22° 40′ 26″ E014° 31′ 40″ : the place in Namibia (Swakopmund) where Angelina gave birth to her biological daughter with Brad Pitt, Shiloh (Hebrew for “the peaceful one”), was born.
    N10° 46′ 00″ E106° 41′ 40″ : the place in Vietnam where Angelina’s son Plax Then was born.
    N43° 41′ 21″ E07° 14′ 28″
    N43° 41′ 21″ E07° 14′ 28″:5 and 6 are a place in France for the twins Knox and Vivienne.
    Angelina added a 7th line of coordinates for Brad Pitt’s place of birth in Oklahoma.

  10. #10 schorsch
    8. Juli 2018

    According to this post on reddit
    the binary code reads indeed BPZMPTMCSN and stands for the Angelina Jolie-Brad Pitt family, resp. their children: Brad Pitt, Zahara Marley, Pax Thien, Maddox Chivan, Shiloh Nouvel

  11. #11 schorsch
    8. Juli 2018


    You are right, ASCII-Code is a 7 bit code. But in these days, ASCII is rarely used in telegraphic applications; it’s more likely to be found encoded in computer memory. And since computer memory is usually organized in eight bit units, ASCII will usually be represented by 8 bit.

    This creates redundancy and an useless overhead – in the present case not only the leading bit is redundant, but the three leading bits . I wouldn’t expect a cryptographer to create so much obvious redundancy, I wouldn’t expect her to use ASCII at all – unless her purpose is not concealment, but deception. A code which does not reveal it’s meaning at the first glance, but which is simple to read by the initiated…

    And then it absolutely makes sence to use 8 bit encodes ASCII – the standard code for every Big Bang Theory-Nerd, Futurama-Freak or Simpsonmaniac.

  12. #12 rolak
    26. Oktober 2018

    In the series Alias .. a hidden meaning of the episode

    Der Satz klingt nach ‘jede Folge hat..’ – Beispiel? Liste? ⇒database?
    Ist ja nicht so, daß beim Sichten einer Serie sekündlich unergründlich Archivare auf Monitore starren – es können also beim Gefundenen selbstverständlich Lücken mitgewachsen sein, zB bei

    S01E14 – The Coup 1:42 G 16:6 E 28:23 E 37:43 W → GEEW

    doch die Frage bleibt: Beispiel? Liste? ⇒database?

  13. #13 rolak
    9. November 2018

    nothing – nada – zilch

    Exakt das erwartete Ergebnis an Responsivität und Datenbasiertheit.
    But consistent to the given ‘fact’

    every location name contains a marked letter

    just behind opening credit sequence S04 E01