Through all of our discussions on film, it strikes me that movies have such a distinct power beyond mere entertainment to touch our lives. We all love experiencing a good story, but what are some of the memorable singular moments within a film that really made an impact on us? For example, while watching the recent Call Me By Your Name, I found that in the midst of a clunky but beautiful film with numerous off the mark scenes of a young summer fling that happens to be gay, a father’s soliloquy about cherishing the feelings stirred up by a first love crush was a keeper for me. I wanted to write it down and put it in my pocket for times of doubt when I’ve gone for what I’ve wanted and met defeat.
There’s been a universal love of that scene, it definitely struck a chord, and represents the magic of cinema, the silver lining of the industry, that ability to create something that transmutes itself into the human heart. Let’s put it out there for our audience.
Great idea! What is your Memorable Movie Moment? It caught your attention. It felt like it had special meaning and you want to tell us what that was. It spurred your imagination. It was especially heartfelt. It helped you not take something for granted. It made you rethink an assumption or conclusion you’d reached. It changed your perspective, helped you see through another’s eyes. It showed you a new way to think about something. It raised a good question. It gave you fresh insight. The impact of the cinematic moment led to a breakthrough realization, rousing an “oh, wow” feeling of gratefulness for having seen it. To our Double-Mirror way of thinking, memorable moments of cinematic wisdom are not only inspirations but also immunizations. Look for them. Tell us one. We’ll tell you ours.
Jason B: Cinema Paradiso. The film projector had just passed away. The young man who used to visit with him in the booth visits the empty booth. A film canister is left from the projector for the young man. The young man views the film, which contains every kissing scene that had to be removed from the movies in order to be screened. It is a very powerful message of love. It still grips me today.
Jim W: Elephant Man. I was a deeply conflicted born-again Christian who was dealing with lots of secret alienation issues lurking in my soul. The exhaustion from an all day and night hiding of my strangeness left me with a brittle veneer that made me shy away from any sort of social context. Then I saw that movie and the unraveling began, the religion fell away, and I followed the freaky path life had laid out for me, all the while shouting, “I am NOT AN ANIMAL!”
Judalon M: Elephant Man was the first to pop into my mind as well! Even though it has been 39 years! The image of his perfect hand delicately cutting out pieces for his model.
Josh L: Mask. When Laura Dern, who plays a blind girl, feels the young malformed man’s face for the first time and tells him he is beautiful. If none of us could see, would we think everyone was beautiful? Also in the same film, when the big biker who can’t talk much stumbles through ” I’m so proud of you” when the kid graduates. That kid changed so many people’s hearts through a deformity.
Casey C: The fight scene/conversation between Andre the Giant and The Man in Black in Princess Bride. I slowly comprehended what they are discussing over 20 years and at least as many viewings. It’s exceptionally written. It’s very difficult to understand Andre after he starts to get choked out. But it’s a deep conversation about combat strategy. He’s so innocent and funny and does such a great job. The line that I often think of and quote is “Why do you wear a mask? Were you burned by acid or something like that?” It’s a deeply satisfying scene.
Stella Stone: The Village. There is some kind of mystery monster roaming the village and everyone is locking down their home and hiding. Bryce Dallas Howard plays Ivy, who is pretty much blind. She refuses to go into the crawl space under the floor with her sister because she is waiting for her childhood love to come and make sure she is safe. It starts getting super suspenseful as she is standing there out in the open. You almost start to feel sad for her that her love isn’t coming. But then he grabs her hand and swiftly takes her down under the floor to be with her sister. That scene reminds me to always have faith in the one you love. Even when it seems they are not there for you.
Deborah G: Two major ones come to mind:
A River Runs Through It. In the film, rivers and the paths we take represent nature but also life itself. It is full of symbols and metaphors. The absolute beauty of the writing, the narration of Robert Redford as the older Normal, and the description of the natural beauty of a Montana summer were so rich. The grace and art of the fly fisherman were breathtaking. Life can take us down many paths but in the end, we all meet our destiny. My favorite moment is Norman’s great monologue:
“Of course, now I am too old to be much of a fisherman, and now, of course, I usually fish the big waters alone, although some friends think I shouldn’t. Like many fly fisherman in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”
Norman is not literally haunted by rivers but memories of his life. I think we are all made of memories we have created or life has created for us. However, whatever we do or have done, the powerful waters continue to flow into the river and life continues.
Secondly, the last scene in Shawshank Redemption, when Andy, having escaped from prison after years of meticulous planning, has gone to Mexico with the crooked warden’s ill-gotten gains. He is cleaning his boat on a tropical Mexican beach. The sand is the brightest white, the turquoise water sparkling, and the sky the clearest blue. He always told Red to join him there if he got out of prison and buried money under a tree for him to use for his journey. Just prior to seeing Andy, we see Red on his journey there, on a bus, nervously hoping that he will see Andy again. Red states the following and as we see Andy with his boat, we suddenly see Red walking down the beach towards him. Andy waves.
“I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”
Andy had encouraged Red to never give up hope. This film was released in 2004 and my beloved husband Sam died in 2003.This scene became a metaphor for me. Sam and I loved the beach and the water and tropical islands and scuba diving. Instead of Andy, I visualize Sam on that boat on the deserted beach, waiting for me. He was free of pain and free of cancer and was so happy. Instead of Red, it was I on that bus making my last journey hoping to see Sam. Instead of Andy looking up to see Red walking towards him, it was me he was welcoming home to him. It was me who kept hope alive that I would see him again. I hope to make it over the border of separation in this life so our spirits can be free to join together for eternity. I hope he is waiting for me in some manifestation. I see the scene as a metaphor. It is spiritual. I will not see him on a beach but on a spiritual level, it will be a place of perfection, of utter joy. Like Red, I keep hope alive. That scene always makes me cry at what I have lost but happy that my heart could love so much and hopeful for a continuation of my spiritual journey after this life ends.
Megan G: I experienced a movie moment last year that deeply impacted me. The movie was Arrival and it involved the gradual comprehension of the main character as the alien visitors showed her flash-forwards in time – revealing a child, yet to be conceived, who would eventually succumb to a fatal illness. I gave birth to a daughter in 2002 that began having severe seizures at 6 weeks of age. Her life was punctuated by trips to the hospital, to administer tests, to start medications, to try and calm the spasms that kept her cognitive development frozen at the moment she had her first episode. In between, and sometimes during stays at the hospital there were times when I entered bubbles of absolute clarity. Once while she slept peacefully in my lap at home the thought occurred to me that she might not ever get better. Another day I walked the halls of the Loma Linda pediatric ward trying to escape the constant cacophony of beeping diagnostic machines and blaring TV sets and I saw a teenager curled into a vegetative coma, who was probably in for some routine problem that bedevils the profoundly disabled. I spoke to God at that moment and beseeched Him – “Please, not my daughter” and knew it would not come to pass. In the last day of Ellie’s last weekend, the force of the machine that kept her lungs expanding and contracting through the muck of pneumonia forced her eyes open, so we covered them with a soft cloth. I held her little foot and felt a supernatural charge of energy pass through her body and into mine. I looked up and neither the nurse nor the machines registered anything, but I knew her soul was freely moving between worlds. Alien life forms are not a necessary factor for us to see through time and spiritual planes. When the full knowing came upon the fictional scientist, I was one with her suffering, and also with her conviction that life, however brief, always serves a purpose, whether we are privileged to comprehend it or not.
I have several:
The Shape of Water – In a turn of events, Beauty rescues Beast and fills up her own bathroom to the top with water so she can, somehow, breathe while making love as water seeps down into a movie theater below. Now that’s movie magic with a twist. Beauty is swept into a sea of primordial healing and love that we are all on the verge of losing. Play it again, Sam.
Ex Machina –After stealing her soul back after it was created for sheer confiscation, after escaping attempts to kill her and after using the same illusions her captors used to imprison her, a new woman takes her place on a busy street corner midst all humanity. When you look up and see the sky reflected in glistening buildings, know that flight is there for the taking in any transcendent image of yourself you personally want to pursue.
The Silence of the Lambs – At the very end, Lector makes Clarice an offer. Let evil walk free among people and I’ll leave you alone. When Clarice answers, “you know I can’t let you do that”, we know the fight for good in this world is part of the way we maintain balance and we gain strength to step forward when necessary.
Thelma and Louise – Thelma speaks to the gray zone where a man comes away from sex thinking he’s had a good time and a woman goes away devastated when she calmly explains, with gun in hand, to a man who assaults Louise, “…when a woman is crying like that, she’s not having a good time”.
The Piano – So many great moments of a woman awakening to desire midst a state of indentured wifehood but the greatest of all comes when Ada’s going down to a watery grave of eternal silence with her beloved piano, she slips her foot from the rope. Ada’s indefinable feminine instinct chooses to live and love when a man honors her spirit – a long time coming like the fairytale, Silver Hands.
Joy – Like the song “These Boots are Made for Walking,” Joy using brains, wit, and beauty to come away the winner as she stands toe to toe with an arrogant cheating man, a woman in aviator sunshades will stand by you. Shore up your courage with the image of a cocky man who’s met his match any time you’re in Joy’s shoes claiming what’s rightfully yours.
Here are mine:
The scene in Brokeback Mountain where Ennis goes to see Jack’s mother after his death and finds the bloodstained shirts that they had each wore during an argument they had out of frustration of not being able to have a gay life together. Both shirts hang entwined with a postcard of the mountain where they had first originated their love for each other. Ennis holds the shirt, absent of the man he loved, and starts to silently weep. That scene killed me in its representation of the fact that sometimes even true love can’t be realized because of the fear of shame. It angered me, it seemed like such a waste, to deny that kind of true authentic love, and all for what, for nothing. I wept in the theater and long afterward thinking of that poignant scene.
In The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Ben Stiller plays Walter, a slightly nebbish photo nerd working for Life magazine who never fully realized his dreams after his father died. He spends his life mostly looking after his mother and being a dutiful worker to cruel bosses and dreaming secretly of a girl he likes who works with him played by Kristin Wiig. He constantly daydreams about himself doing heroic things he never has the guts to do. He used to love skateboarding but largely stopped those dreams when his dad died. He is spurred on a hero’s journey in the film when he has to travel overseas for an elusive photonegative. In a remote arctic bar, he meets a pilot who offers to take him to find the photographer in a crappy biplane. The pilot gets drunk and Walter decides not to get on the plane and risk his life. But then he has a daydream of Kristin Wiig singing the David Bowie song Space Oddity to him in the bar. When the first lines, “This is ground control to Major Tom…” came out, I got an electrical thrill in my bones, knowing that everything would change. Walter runs outside after the pilot and heroically jumps on the plane, spurred by his thrill for this woman. He begins his hero’s journey. Later in the film, he is faced with the challenge of getting to another remote area and escaping an avalanche. He has no car so he trades his favorite childhood toy for a kid’s skateboard and there is this absolutely breathtaking scene of him skateboarding for miles down a dangerous curvy road toward his destination. My heart leapt with joy and love for that the little boy inside Walter who got to rediscover his love of skateboarding, the rush of being alone out on that road, and the unknown possibilities that had been rekindled in his soul that would affect his life back home as he would return changed forever from this journey. Don’t ever let go of who you thought you could to be as a child before life let you down, it’s never too late!