Tuesday, 6 May 2014

MORE Of My Favorite Movie Scenes

I think it is an interesting exercise to find and explain my favorite scenes from movies. The thing is I have so many I don't know that I could possibly list them all, so I thought it might be good to revisit this topic with some more great scenes I missed the first time round.

The Omaha Beach Sequence From Saving Private Ryan

I know I said a few critical things about E.T. in my last article, but even if that movie was flawed there's no question Steven Spielberg has talent, and Saving Private Ryan is a great example of a film where he shows it. The whole movie is brilliant in itself but before you can actually get to... well... saving Private Ryan, you have to sit through twenty minutes depicting in graphic detail the bloody chaos of Omaha Beach. Those twenty minutes may well be the best part of the movie.

This scene works because it does such a good job in setting the tone for the rest of the movie. It all seems so real, with men being killed left, right, and center from the moment the boarding ramps on their boats are lowered. Once the shooting starts, it never lets up, and you have to follow these guys right up the beach as they are killed on mass, almost as if you're one of them. You're never allowed to be comfortable, just relieved when it's finally over.

The Final Scene of Dark Star

This was a great film for a low-budget comedy, and in my previous list I brought up the philosophical discussion with the bomb, but also really great is the final scene. I'm not sure if there could have been a better way to ending this film.

It's a bit of a tear-jerker but at the same time there's still some of the humor. On the one hand, everybody dies and it's hard not to sympathize with them, but earlier in the film there is a discussion between Doolittle and Talby regarding their personal desires. Doolittle admits that he misses surfing back home, while Talby talks about wanting to see the "Phoenix Asteroids" (a rarely-seen group of asteroids that glow brightly for reasons unknown). In a way, both wishes are granted in this final scene, with Doolittle being able to literally surf into a planet's atmosphere and Talby not only getting to see the Phoenix Asteroids but being taken along with them to circle the galaxy.

The Black Knight From Monty Python and the Holy Grail

This one, of course, is a classic with so many awesomely quotable lines, but one moment that I often remember well is the famous duel with the Black Knight. The over-the-top gore, the dialogue, and of course just the way these two play off each other.

Part of what makes this scene so hilarious is probably in just how the Black Knight becomes increasingly harder to take seriously as the scene goes on. He's pretty intimidating at first, when we see him locked in a difficult fight with a green knight, eventually killing him in a particularly gruesome manner (throwing his sword and hitting the Green Knight right between the eyes). The Black Knight stands proud, and there is the added quality that to make him seem less human we never see his face. This of course makes it a perfect moment to show Arthur's skill when he easily overpowers the Black Knight, who becomes far less scary when we see him stubbornly trying to keep fighting even as his limbs are cut off one by one ("Just a flesh wound").

It also leads to an hilarious conclusion, when the Black Knight loses all his limbs, and still refuses to admit defeat, continuing to taunt Arthur as he leaves.

Ellie's Flight from Contact

This sequence may only be the very end of the movie, but it's also quite possibly one of the most memorable parts. It's everything the film has been building up to and it delivers. The influence from 2001 (specifically the famed "Star gate" sequence) is unmistakable, but Jodie Foster's performance and the excellent visual effects take the viewer on an incredible ride across the galaxy. Technically, there are two parts to this scene, the first being when Eleanor Arroway is strapped down in her seat, watching as the small pod she is in is mysteriously catapulted across lightyears towards Vega. This alone is interesting, the tension that she experiences and the sudden transition from her constant shaking to her more comfortable experience of floating freely as soon as she releases herself.

The second, more surreal part is also a great climactic moment for the film, a scene forshadowed from the very beginning, when she arrives on a beach based on a drawing she made as a kid, on which an alien confronts her using the image of her dead father. We never see the aliens or Vega itself, but the whole environment has a very distinct sense of wonder and curiosity, fueling the desire to know more and making the alien's confrontation all the more interesting.

So these are some more of my favorite moments from the movies. Now I leave it up to you. What are some of your favorite scenes from films? I would like to see you post your answer in some form. You can share it in the comments, or you can go full out and write an article of your own if you have the means to do so and then post a link. You can choose as many as you want, since it can be very hard to decide, just as long as you can explain what you like about that scene.

1 comment:

  1. John - I would like to propose the extended soliloquy performed by Robert Shaw in Jaws. This is a scene that is often cut from TV versions, seeming too boring, but it represents Spielberg at his best - building fear and tension through the unseen, rather than graphic visuals. In this speech, Robert Shaw, who plays a fearless, iron-willed sailor, reveals the terror of sharks that he carries within him, and the intimacy of the scene seems to magnify the isolation of these men, as they sit alone in a rickety boat on a dark ocean. I read somewhere that Shaw's first take of this monologue was marred by his alcoholism.He was so ashamed of his performance on that day, he begged Spielberg to re-shoot it, and once permission was granted, Shaw put everything he had into the performance. It reveals the abilities of both a truly great actor (Shaw) and a truly great storyteller (Spielberg).