Brilliant moments in mainstream movies

Some movies I remember only for one scene, one idea, or an atmosphere. For the rest these movies can be bad, average or sometimes even good, but the one scene makes me remember them for ever. The articles about these scenes are filed under the category good movie scenes.

Of course I am not the only one to write about this:


Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972)

There are many memorable scenes in this great movie. From childhood of course I remember the “duelling banjo’s”, but when I saw this movie again I was most moved by the scene where the group of four finally launch their canoes. It is a beautiful idyllic scene that gives a great sense of freedom and boyish joy.

A few years ago I canoed, no,  kayakked  in Belgium with my colleagues from work. It started out as a touristy thing with crappy gear, but soon I found myself practically alone, gently floating down a small river with trees on the banks, sunny reflections in the water and kingfishers flashing by. It was the extended version of that scene from Deliverance.


Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)

I love the street scenes in Blade Runner. It was hard to extract a nice shot that says it all. Although a lot of effort has gone in the design of the street scenes, apart from the beginning none of the shots  explicitly say: this is what the future looks like. They just provide the atmosphere, the background for the story.  This works so much better than trying to explain everything.

Blade runner is a great movie to watch on DVD, and pause the scenes all the time to see how much detail there is in most of the shots.


Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan (1984, Hugh Hudson)

When this movie is on television the tv guide of my intellectual newspaper always gives it the same bad review about the movie being vague. This is exactly what appeals to me. There are strange jumps in the storyline, the characters of The Sixth Earl of Greystoke and Capitaine Phillippe D’Arnot are nicely absurd, and of course Tarzan himself is ambiguous in his humanity.
There are several great scenes in the movie: Ian Holm as D’Arnot being totally frozen when the natives attack the expedition, Tarzan who perfectly imitates animals and posh English accents. The scene that stands out for me is when Tarzan is in a museum of natural history. In the next shot, he bursts out a door into the fresh air. I always think of that scene when I feel confined.


Independence Day (1996, Roland Emmerich)

Visual perfection: the giant spaceships hovering over the cities. Strange thing is that I am sure I dreamt of this long before the movie came out, including the concave top of the spaceships.


Alien (1979, Ridley Scott)

Not the drooling alien or the belly piercing baby alien or the beautiful Sigourney Weaver or the in another way beautiful leathery face of John Hurt, but the casual atmosphere when the crew wakes up is what struck me most. Smoking, teasing, complaining about food and money. Before this, space crews in SF were always depicted as highly organised, almost robotic people.  You can almost hear the scriptwriter thinking: let’s not do that this time.

Sigourney Weaver as Ripley and one of four cats as Jones (Jonesy).


Truman Show (1998, Peter Weir)

Boat hits horizon. No need  to put this evident metaphor into words.



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