So, it’s been a long time coming – but here it is – the second half of my top ten favorite movie scenes of all time. In case you missed it, Part One can be found here.
I apologize for how long it has taken me to finish this series. I really wanted to capture and upload the scenes exactly the way I wanted them – with very specific start and end times etc. Unfortunately copyright issues prevented me from doing so and for this Part Two issue I have had to resort to FINDING the scenes on youtube. In some cases I was very lucky, in others I found only frustrating compilations of the scene or videos that cut off early. In one instance I was unable to find the scene at all. So for months and months I put it off in the hopes that I could find some way of doing it as well as I imagined it, but eventually I had to settle for what youtube could offer me. As with the previous entry in this series I really encourage you to track down the actual movie and watch it. This is a deeply personal list, and I’ve poured over it for a while, I hope you enjoy it.
The Top Five:
#5: Buon giorno Principessa!
What can I say about Life is Beautiful? Every time I watch this movie I realize I’ve forgotten how funny it is. And by the end I realize I’ve forgotten just how tragic and devastating the story becomes. A brilliant movie, full of special scenes that take the viewer across the spectrum of human emotion. Hyperbole aside, this is a classic film and any one of its scenes could be singled out for this list. And yet, this scene in particular is the one I immediately thought of. When I was compiling this list there were many scenes that I hummed and hawed over – but this one was never in doubt. Every time I tell someone about this movie I try and describe this scene and I always end up tearing up. I teared up again previewing the scene once I’d found it on youtube. It’s a heartbreaker.
*If the imbed isn’t working for you, try clicking the “watch on youtube” option in the corner of the window.
Life is Beautiful (La vita è bella). Roberto Benigni. 1997
#4: Rose?! Rose!?
This scene is from my favorite Disney movie of all time. The music lifted directly from Tchaikovsky’s ballet and the animation style looks like ancient, angular tapestries brought to life. Sleeping Beauty is romantic, heroic, and, for a kids movie, surprisingly terrifying. In this scene Aurora is lured by Maleficent’s eerie green ball of light up, up, up the tower stairs to her doom. Stellar music and animation makes this scene timeless, as tense and hypnotic today as it was sixty years ago.
Sleeping Beauty. Clyde Geronimi. 1959
#3: So Why Do They Call Him The Joker?
If you know me you’re not surprised to see I’ve included a scene from The Dark Knight. Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece (the best in the franchise) overflows with mind blowing scenes but in the end I decided on the very first one. It was such a thrill watching this opening scene for the first time. The blue fire filling the screen, the sudden boom of Gotham, pushing in towards the windows with that one note ticking score. What a way to begin a movie. Just perfect. The whole sequence becomes a tight little story in itself, a genius way to introduce Heath Ledger’s Joker. I feel stupid admitting it now, but I remember second guessing myself about which one of the clowns I thought The Joker would turn out to be. I could watch this opening a million times. The IMAX, the way the camera moves, the double-doublecrossings, the clown masks, the music, the William Fichtner cameo, everything killed me. I was literally rocking in my seat with excitement. I remember leaning over to Alison at some point during the opening scene and saying “This is the best movie I’ve ever seen”. I may have been wrong, or exaggerating, but damn it if this movie doesn’t just grab you by the throat from minute one and never let go.
The Dark Knight. Christopher Nolan. 2008
#2: Frankie, I Have To Ask You For My Second Wish
Ok, on this one youtube failed me completely. This gem from 2002 was a smaller movie but one worth tracking down if you haven’t seen it. Because I was unable to find the scene I’ve included the trailer instead. If you can find a way to watch it, the scene I’ve selected is near the end of the first Act when the family goes to a small carnival and Johnny (Dad) tries to win his daughter an E.T. doll. The film follows a poor Irish family trying to start a new (illegal) life in the U.S. with their two young daughters. The child actors (and real life sisters) who play the daughters are a revelation! Kid acting is usually pretty poor in films but not this time. I won’t ruin the plot for you, but I will tell you that it is what my mom would call a “tear jerker” and that you should track it down and watch it right away.
In America. Jim Sheridan. 2002
#1: You Shall Not Pass!
What do you want me to say? I had a near spiritual experience the first time I watched this scene in theaters. The confrontation between Gandalf and the Balrog was perfectly brought to life. Exactly what I had imagined in my mind was executed so big and so loud, and so full of fire that I had tears in my eyes. There are a lot of problems with the Lord of the Rings movies (*cough* Elijah Wood *cough*) but their virtue, for me at least, is in those moments when they were able to pull Tolkien’s words perfectly out of the books. A number of those scenes were in contention for this list, the Fellowship’s boats gliding between the Argonath, Gandalf and Pippin riding into Minas Tirith, etc but it was the epic showdown on the bridge of Khazad Dum that got the top spot. I accept that this scene’s position on my top ten is due mostly to my love for Tolkien, but I stand by it. Ian McKellan’s performance is iconic and the whole moment perfectly encapsulates everything that is brilliant about Jackson’s Rings trilogy. (ie: Weta Digital)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Peter Jackson. 2001
Well that’s it! Hope you enjoyed the list and I hope it has directed you to one or two movies you haven’t seen (or haven’t seen in a while). Something for your next rainy day.