Now I’m going to take a slightly different tract with this blog. Ordinarily before I’ve flitted between reviews and philosophy but I’ve been watching a few movies recently and I got myself a different idea. In amongst the great movies out in the world there are some truly breathtaking moments of cinematic brilliance just nestled away. I’m not talking about the best movies, the best actors or the best directors. I’m talking about specific scenes, speeches and moments that stay with you long after the end credits have rolled. So now, in no particular order, are my 4 greatest movie scenes of all time:
The Interrogation – The Dark Knight (2008)
Now this clip comes from one of my personal favourite movies of all time and epotimses for me exactly why the movie is as good as it is. It’s been quite some time since the start of the movie and we are treated to the first face-to-face encounter between The Dark Knight and The Clown Prince of Crime. With all the bad blood boiling between the yin and yang of the plot this was always going to be a pivotal point in the emotional and dramatic journey of the script and rests largely upon the skill of the actors and the quality of the writing. With the tension in crescendo since the start of the movie this is where it all comes to a peak, let me tell you, it does not disappoint. Heath Ledger and Christian Bale are perfectly pitched against one another and give such conviction to their diametrically opposed characters that you can feel the underlying aggression and psychoses coarsing through the screen. Bale as the crucially restrained upholder of the law and Ledger as the frenetically brilliant sociopath interplay so well until the breaking point of sudden violence that it genuinely does keep you on the edge of your seat, unsure as to what the hell they are going to do next, and whether The Joker really does have the ace to break Batman’s one rule. Arming them to add to this powerhouse of drama is Nolan’s brilliant script, epitomised in this scene summing up what the movie is really about. Are we all just slaves to social rules? Is morality a bad joke? Given the chance and that ‘one bad day’ would we truly just end up eating each other? The fact of the matter is we would have to wait until later in the movie to find out the real answers to these questions as, after a savage beating, The Joker poses his one last question to Batman – what choice will you make?
The Death of Oogway – Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Admitedly this is a totally different track from the other movie of 2008 on this list but this movie stands as a personal favourite of mine for asimple combination of factors: The jokes are funny and the action sequences are fucking awesome. However, despite this reason it is neither a hilariously funny nor an impressively action-packed scene that I have chosen. This is the single most heartfelt and beautiful scene in the whole damn film. For the entire narrative we are shown Oogway, this wise yet slightly mental turtle and the respect he commands from his pupil Master Shifu. Despite all the chaos, the danger and the hilarity Oogway remains calm and collected, having faith that fate has chosen the right path for them. Oogway is the sure thing, the last bastion and the levellng force that serves as the manic Shifu’s rudder. His death is such a pivotal point of this movie and is played brilliantly, not least by impressive voice performances (often difficult) from Dustin Hoffman and Randall Duk Kim, but mainly from the beauty of the score and the imagery. You do not expect him to die even as the lotus petals wash over him. One minute he is there and the next he is gone, leaving Shifu to wonder what happens next with only one piece of advice: “You must believe”.
Sloth – Se7en (1995)
Finally a release from outside of 2008. This is a scene I love to watch with other people who have not seen it before, purely for the look of shock on their faces. I won’t spoil it for anybody who has not seen it yet, suffice to say this is a moment, and a concept, which can haunt your dreams long after the big finale of this horror masterpiece. Pitt and Freeman have tailed the elusive killer for the past two murders (Gluttony and Greed) through days of rain and the cracks in their partnership are already beginning to show. Pitt’s anxious desperation to be one step ahead against Freeman’s more considered approach to detective work form the basis of most of the tension in this film but the sheer horror of this situation puts that to one side. They work together and pull focus onto their forensics. The photos, the samples, the reactions; all misdirection to that fateful moment when you realise just what this killer is capable of. Short of actually revealing the fate of the victim of Sloth I can’t really say much more about this clip, just know it is one of the only times I’ve ever been shocked watching a film (the other notable moment being the end of Saw) and still gets me every time.
Picard’s Speech – Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
It’s a good thing that a Shakespearean actor as renowned and talented as Patrick Stewart got the role of Picard because otherwise a) The series might not have made it this far an b) This particular scene would not be nearly as good. The raw passion, the sheer anger and the powerful elocution of Picard’s speech is played so beautifully, with each syllable spoken so pitch perfectly that you understand just why Picard made captain. For most of the film you have watched Picard slowly being driven to more and more desperate attempts to stop his White Whale, The Borg and when all hope is lost, so driven is he by his rage, that he would rather sacrifice his crew than admit defeat. The ordinarily calm, logical, reasoning and dignified Captain is reduced to a shallow maelstrom of vengance by his experience and, at this moment, he is forced to come face to face with that fact. From all encompassing shouts of wrath to the slower, more restrained venom with which he delivers his lines; Stewart occupies every single point on the emotional spectrum to perfectly portray a man in metldown. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the tail end of this scene where Picard realises the error of his ways but watch it if you get the chance, the poinancy with which he utters one of Moby Dick’s most beautfiul lines, ‘as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it’ is nothing short of beautiful, as his solemn redemption begins.
So there you have it: thriller, comedy, horror, sci fi. My four greatest movie moments and why I can watch them again and again. There would have been a list of five here and they would have been in order but they come around so fleetingly that I couldn’t possibly put them against one another and finding four was hard enough. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading and maybe it might make you think about your own movie moments and why they mean so much to you. Happy viewing.