Friday, June 15, 2012

Movie snippets for the attentionally challenged.

I just finished watching Henry V (the Kenneth Branagh version) on Netflix.  It contains one deeply moving long scene when the sides are gathering up their dead after the Battle of Agincourt.  That, along with the wonderful St. Crispin's Day speech, are why I watch this movie.  It got me thinking, though, of the sequences in movies that have come to mean more to me than the movies they are part of, the scenes I am sure to run into the room for if they are being shown on television:

The baptism scene in The Godfather. One of the most riveting five minutes in film. Period.

The lighting of the beacons of Gondor in The Return of the King. This loses some of its effectiveness on the small screen; nonetheless, it is my favorite two minutes in the entire trilogy.

The presentation of Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare in Love. I simply defy you not to cry at the end.  You can't help yourself.

"El Tango de Roxanne" in Moulin Rouge! Dark and dangerous, and full of pain and fury. You'll never listen to Sting sing this song the same way again.

The shower scene in Psycho, natch.

The passage south from Master and Commander. Russell Crowe as Jack Aubrey is hanging off the side of the ship, smiling -- and it looks like such fun, until it becomes clear that it is sleeting sideways.

The love story in Up. There is an Internet meme going around about how Pixar made a better love story in eight minutes than the makers of the Twilight series did in three films.  What the meme ignores is that the love story from Up was better than most of the romantic movies -- comedies and otherwise -- made in the past several years.

The "horse of a different color" sequence from The Wizard of Oz. I always wanted to have a horse like that -- although if you look closely, it involves at least three different horses.  The horses don't just change color, they change conformation, as well.

"Dance of the Hours" from Fantasia and "The Carnival of the Animals" from Fantasia 2000. You can never go wrong with dancing elephants and alligators or with flamingos and yo-yos.

The breakfast montage from Citizen Kane.  Years collapsed into minutes, capturing how people grow apart. Brilliant, and in its way heartbreaking.

Casablanca.... Okay, I admit. I can't watch only part of Casablanca. There is just too much good stuff there -- Rick helping the young couple, the first time he sees Ilsa in the bar, the conversations with Major Strasser, "I'm shocked, shocked! to find gambling going on here..." The Paris interlude, The airport scene, "I'm no good at being noble...", "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship..."; all of it. The American Film Institute got it backwards: Casablanca (rated second) is a better movie than Citizen Kane, because it engages the heart as well as the mind.

So what are your favorite movie scenes?


  1. I like the St. Crispin's Day Speech, too, and the singing of Non Nobis. (My ex the actor used to sing that song beautifully, too).

    I like Brannagh and Thompson in Much Ado About Nothing, in that garden scene :)

    Not high cinematography, but I will always have a soft spot for the opener of Spaceballs, with the ship going on... and on... and on... and on... and on... in a parody of every other science fiction spaceship scene there is :)

    I like the climactic lightsaber fight in Return of the Jedi, Luke and Vader crossing swords in front of the Emperor. The music crescendo is awesome, as is the crackling of the sabers.

    I like the ending dance scene in Alive and Kicking, when the dancer with AIDS is carried through his moves by his troupemates after he becomes too weak to dance. (You might not have seen this movie... I should show it to you).

    Love, the Resident Shrink

  2. I haven't seen Alive and Kicking, it should go on the ever lengthening Netflix queue.