A film is much like life. Of course it’s a microcosm of what life can even be in length, but a film is similar in the sense that it’s made up of a string of moments that are either remembered or forgotten amidst the grand scheme. Much like how we remember powerful or significant moments in our life, it’s hard to shake the magic of an engrossing or hilarious film scene. Out of curiosity I’ve attempted to identify all the scenes from the landscape of film that have affected me. It’s undoubtedly a difficult undertaking, especially when I’m constantly adding to the list (even as I type this!), but with each discovery, I’m constantly reminded of why I love film. I hope that this series of days, or however long it will take for me to show off my favorite scenes, inspires you to rediscover those film moments that are deeply rooted in your mind.
A Convincing Argument- The Third Man
In the noir classic The Third Man, we’re lead to believe that Harry Lime (Orson Welles) is a callous man, a man who’s not afraid to siphon someone’s life just to make a dollar. Well, it’s true, but our first introduction to Lime is one that nearly convinces us that his dirty deeds are justifiable. With his booming voice and assured presence, Welles delivers a villain who could talk his way into God’s heart.
Batter’s Up- The Shining
There is an assortment of violent and damning images in Kubrick’s The Shining, but what drives the film into an uncomfortable zone is the lunacy that festers on-screen. Providing the film with its depravity is Jack Nicholson who, in the scene below, delivers an obscene amount of bat-shit craziness. Matching Nicholson’s lack of restraint is the harmonic blending of Shelley Duvall’s cries and the score’s intensifying buzz. Yeah, I’d smack a bat against his head too.
Game Show- 127 Hours
In one of 2010’s most harrowing films comes one of its finest scenes. After spending hours stuck in a canyon in the middle of nowhere, Aron Ralston finds himself battling the elements and his failing psyche. Armed (no pun intended) with his camera, Ralston records what can be seen as his last will and testament in the form of a mock game show where he chides his prideful independence. Bringing Ralston’s self-condemning to life is Franco. Franco’s performance all together is masterful, but he’s especially heartbreaking in this moment of isolation and revelation. *The scene in question isn’t on Youtube, but is spliced into the trailer…*
A Disheartening Dinner- The Bicycle Thief
It’s easy to see why The Bicycle Thief is a heralded film. It’s simple premise and realistic performances burden our hearts with an emotional power that exists without pomp. After watching our father and son tandem forlornly search the streets of Italy for a missing bike, our hearts break even more as said tandem have a last supper of sorts. With their last pinch of money in hand and a bleak future in place, they decide to dine with the socially elite in a restaurant that will forever be beyond their means. Exasperating results ensue as the haves and have nots eat concurrently.
Slight Introduction- Boogie Nights
How do you begin a two and a half hour film that depicts the rise and fall of porn stars over the course of two decades? With an epically long tracking shot of course! Within the first frame one can already tell that Paul Thomas Anderson is a director with a biting vision. Not only does Paul Thomas Anderson establish his bravura, but he quickly introduces us to the characters that will infiltrate our senses for the next few hours. It’s crisp, smart, and brisk. We know everything we need to know in a matter of moments.