Which moments hooked you?

Posted by · 11:43 pm · April 24th, 2009

(from left) Lon Chaney and Mary Philbin in The Phantom of the OperaI love the current poll series about the most influential films of all time, but it got me thinking about the moments in movies that hooked me on cinema forever. You know, the ones we see as kids that have an enormous impact on us, forever bonding us to this art form we all so love?

For me, as I’ve mentioned before, it was a scene in “The Ten Commandments,” Cecil B. DeMille’s remake of his own epic, which I saw in 1972 (I think) in a re-release of the picture. In the days before video (yep, that old) the studios would re-release their films every few years and this was a major re-release for Paramount. My dad, also a movie junkie (though not as bad as his son), had talked about this for years and now that it was back we were going.

Admittedly, I was a tad cynical at 12 years old.  I fully expected to be disappointed.  Still I wanted to see it because I enjoyed going to the movies. Little did I know my life would be changed forever.

We piled into the car and made the drive to the theater, which was packed with familes similar to ours. The lights went down and for the next four and a half hours I was swept back in time, stunned by the size and scope of the film, amazed at the colors, and most of all, astonished at Charlton Heston. Never before had I realized how an actor could command the screen.  I never felt like I was watching a performance, either.  In awe I watched the Exodus scene as literally thousands of actors moved out of Egypt, led by Moses.

And finally we got to the parting of the Red Sea. Now understand I was 12, it was 1972, before the days of “Star Wars” and computer-generated effects. The sky went black behind Heston and the waters became choppy, raging as we got to closer to the moment.  “Behold his mighty hand,” and my jaw all but hit the ground.  Chills and goosebumps started all over me.  I leaned closer to the screen, resting my head on my hands on the seat in front of me. My dad, knowing the impact of what had just happened, put his hand on my back as we shared the moment silently.

I left that theater galvanized in some way. From that moment, I knew cinema would be my obsession and that it would play a huge role in my life. That I get paid for writing about film is just gravy; I would do what I do for free.

There were other films, of course, and as I grew older I realized that “The Ten Commandments” was really not a very good film, but it remains a very big film. The DVD sits on my shelf, and every once in a while I will pull it down and watch the sequence all over again.

The other films to impact me in this way would be in the aforementioned “Star Wars,” when the star destroyer soars over head in the film’s opening, and in “The Searchers,” as John Wayne rages through the film to finally come face to face with his niece and his own humanity.  I still weep at that one.

Others: Mary Philbin tears the mask off Lon Chaney in “The Phantom of the Opera” exposing his horrific face to us; Charles Foster Kane grows old and empty in “Citizen Kane”;  Ingrid Bergman walks away from true love in “Casablanca” because it’s the right thing to do; Chaplin’s smile at the end of “City Lights”; Kong atop the Empire State Building in 1933; Dorothy trapped in the castle as the hour glass empties out in “The Wizard of Oz.;” Brando and Steiger in the back of the cab in “On the Waterfront; the ape throws the bone that becomes the spaceship in a jump cut placing us millions of years from where we were in “2001”.  On and on and on, from “Close Encounters” to “Apocalypse Now,” “The Godfather” to “Toy Story.”

So many moments.

What are the moments that stick out for you?  Which sequences altered you as a person and the manner in which you perceive film?  Tell us in the comments section below.

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39 responses so far

  • 1 4-25-2009 at 12:13 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    The whole Lord of the Rings Trilogy changed my life. It took where I am today, which is in film studies basically. The one scene that stood out for me since (also in the book btw) is the scene towards the end where Sam proclaims: “I can’t cary it for you, but I can cary you!”. That gets me to tears even just thinking of it.

    Other stuff that impressed me were ET and Elliott dying in the vacuum tent and then coming back to life. The SWAT officers being killed off by the “painters” in Die Hard II (hey, I was young, it worked for me!) TWBB ending, Garrison’s monologue in JFK (the big conspiracy!), the Gladiator opening. Sorry for the big blockbuster and spectacle stuff here but that’s just the stuff I saw when I was younger.

  • 2 4-25-2009 at 1:03 am

    Aaron said...

    A few I can think of are the final lightsaber duel in Return of the Jedi. The love scene in Desperado (I was ten when I first saw it) and the bar shootout. The interrogation scene in The Dark Knight. The scene where Sean Penn discovers his daughter’s dead and his talk with Tim Robbins in Mystic River made me want to be an actor. The Departed in whole, especially when Dicaprio beats up the two men made me want to be a director. The opening fight scene in Gangs of New York. The ending to The Usual Supects, The Prestige, and Memento.

    The sequence with Hugh Jackman entering the supernova in The Fountain. The flight test scene in The Aviator. The ‘Singing in the Rain’ scene in A Clockwork Orange. The scene where Robbie Carlyle is running from zombies in 28 Weeks Later. The opening in Raging Bull. Just the picture of Michael Corleone in the chair in the dark room in The Godfather is breathtaking. And foremost There Will Be Blood. The entire movie. Especially the burning derrick scene and the baptism scene were influential to me. The whole movie has shaped my love for cinema. I have never anticipated a movie like I have TWBB (The Dark Knight and The Road come in close seconds). I believe it should have won best pic. I liked No Country but it will be forgotten eventually. TWBB will be used in film schools for years to come.

    I know I said a few but I got carried away. Sorry.

  • 3 4-25-2009 at 1:28 am

    Michael Rogers said...

    Heath Ledger as Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain, especially the final scene.

    Every time Also Spach Zarathustra plays in 2001, especially at the finale.

  • 4 4-25-2009 at 4:41 am

    John H. Foote said...

    Jonathan — I too love that moment in Return of the King — Sean Astin should have gotten a nomination for best supporting actor — that look on his face when he and Frodo lock eyes after the healing has happened and the gang are united amidst the white sheets is mesmerizing — and the crowning of the king high atop the cliff????? Goddam…I gotta watch these again…today — all of them…Michael I should have included that final heartbreaking moment in “Brokeback Mountain” — I still weep when I see it — Ledger’s greatest moment and line (Jack…I swear) as an actor…the pain, the longing, the regret the sadness in his voice…

  • 5 4-25-2009 at 6:01 am

    Martin said...

    For me, definitely the Star Child in 2001: A Space Odyssey. That reeled me in.

  • 6 4-25-2009 at 6:20 am

    Bridgeman said...

    Contact – the whole sequence where they build the spaceship thing (the second one) until the end of the film. I was just… I can’t even put it into words how I felt. I honestly, truly forgot I was watching a film. I’ve never felt like that before or since.

    As for an emotional reaction to a film, I’d have to say Shadowlands. I don’t cry (not being a tough guy, I just chose to stop doing so) but I come ever-so-close every time I watch the second half of this film. I love it. Anthony Hopkins should have won the damn Best Actor Oscar for it – it’s the performance of his career – but he was nominated for The Remains of the Day instead (also a great performance, I admit, but he was brilliant in Shadowlands).

  • 7 4-25-2009 at 7:01 am

    James D. said...

    Star Wars in general hooked me as a kid. Lost in Translation was probably the first art film that I saw, and I was blown away by it. The ending where Bob finds Charlotte in the street could hook anyone.

  • 8 4-25-2009 at 7:16 am

    Casey Fiore said...

    The final scene of Pulp Fiction changed my life in major ways. So much so that I wrote an essay on the impact it had on me which played a large part in my acceptance to several colleges… it certainly wasn’t my grades that got me in.
    After Jules Winnfield makes his final explanation of Ezekiel 25:17 to “Ringo” and leaves the room, I found sweat stains under my arms. This scene made me want to be a filmmaker.
    Other notables moments for me would include: Luke Skywalker hanging for his life as Darth Vader unveils his true identity in The Empire Strikes Back. The snicker on Jimmy Conway’s face as “Sunshine of Your Love” plays and he considers whacking Morrie in GoodFellas. Don Vito Corleone’s soundless sob after Tom Hagen reveals the death of his first born

  • 9 4-25-2009 at 8:28 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    The first time I ever saw a film in a theater was The Lion King. When that sun first rose to the tune of “Circle of Life”, I was introduced to how powerful a film could be.

    Another one, and this is weird, but the sheer awfulness of Star Wars Episode was profound to me. Before then, I was just a kid who enjoyed any film put in front of him. Seeing Jar Jar Binks screaming and mugging during that underwater sequence, I noticed that I was more annoyed than thrilled. In a way, The Phantom Menace stole my movie virginity, and suddenly I became – as my friends say – a picky critic.

    Funny, in that same year, my jaw dropped at the sight of Neo dodging those bullets in The Matrix. That one eight-second scene still ranks as one of the most momentous moviegoing experiences of my life.

  • 10 4-25-2009 at 10:01 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    You’re not alone, Bridgeman — “Shadowlands” reduces me to a pathetic, snivelling puddle every single time.

    As for defining moments in my life of filmgoing, I’d have to put the opening sequence of “Three Colours: Red” at the top — that incredible track of the phone call from London to Geneva blew my 11 year-old mind when I saw it in the theatre. Still does. I’d known I wanted to work in film long before then, but that movie completely changed my understanding of what the medium could do.

    Going back further, as a kid I was fascinated by the live action-animation merge in “Mary Poppins.” Couldn’t get enough of it.

  • 11 4-25-2009 at 10:27 am

    Joel said...

    The Spyder attack in Minority Report. The shootout midway through Heat. Kong’s 2005 death scene, as well as his half-hour showdown with three T-rexes. Henry’s realization that Karen has flushed all the drugs, which were their ticket out of financial trouble, in GoodFellas. The restaurant-set cop killing in Godfather. The interrogation of the Joker in Dark Knight. The first ten minutes of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The first twenty of Saving Private Ryan. Any particular dialogue exchange in 12 Angry Men.

    There are lots. This makes me wanna rewatch stuff.

  • 12 4-25-2009 at 11:32 am

    meli said...

    I’d have to go all the way back to To Kill a Mockingbird because I saw it standing between my parents in my footy pajamas in their station wagon at the drive-in. It wasn’t until I described a few fleeting images from a child’s memory – a porch swing, a girl in a pumpkin costume (it was a ham) – to a boyfriend and he surprised me with a screening years later, that I knew what I had seen at age four.

  • 13 4-25-2009 at 11:38 am

    Speaking English said...

    I’m really young, so the movies (and the moments) that reeled me into the brilliant world of film are mostly ones from this decade.

    Most significantly is “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, movies that made me aware just what movies could accomplish. Awe-inspiring. My emotional connection to those films is transcendent, going well beyond simple love. Those films touch an ethereal, intangible beauty unmatched by anything else, and when I hear those lush strings from Howard Shore’s brilliant score, I cry. Yes, I cry.

    “The Aviator” and “Brokeback Mountain” also profoundly affected me. “The Aviator” really made me involved in the Oscars for the first time and “Brokeback Mountain,” well, I can’t even explain it. Made me question things I’ve been questioning ever since.

  • 14 4-25-2009 at 12:18 pm

    Katie said...

    Aaron – The ‘Singing in the Rain’ scene in A Clockwork Orange. –, with all due respect, powerful scene yes, but WTF. Horrendous. Broke my heart. Hate it with every fiber. But see why it made your list. Personally, I hate movies like that and like “Irreversible.” I curse the day I saw that.

    My choice would be the actual Singing in the Rain scene. Speaking of musicals, the “Cool” number from “West Side Story”, really one moment in particular, when the red head leads in the middle (whilst snapping snapping away), and the storm organized in a neat pile, and they simultaneously rush to the camera and skip. Gorgeous.

    Speaking on Movement; the Kiss in “A Walk in the Clouds”. Beautiful choreography in that moment, film itself is whatever/blah in general.

    The two young couple in “On the Beach”, and Ava Gardner’s face in the end.

    The scene in “Amelie” where she explains away why he isn’t the one for her for not showing up (she concocts all sorts of events and finally imagines him as a Mujaheddin). So cute, and done so well. It deliciously hints at the frailty and brief insanity of falling in love.

    The scene in the “Exorcist” where he opens the drawer, and the priest asks him to do it again, and the demon replies: “In time, in time”.

    Of course also, the hospital scene, when that FACE pops in for a mili second. Watching that when I was younger, I almost shit my pants. Looking past the shock factor, the window it gives to that poor girl’s slow surrender to the monster. I kept thinking, it must be terrifying to have him inside you, with no where to run. I could have closed my eyes, and she’s stuck in the room with Him.

  • 15 4-25-2009 at 12:41 pm

    Patryk said...

    Mrs. Moore and the Marabar caves in “A Passage to India.”

  • 16 4-25-2009 at 12:42 pm

    PJ said...

    That sequence at the end of “Children of Men” where Theo is leading Kee and the baby through a massive battle in a single camera shot, and how the fighting stops momentarily when people see the baby; that gave me chills. Also, Chichiro finding out Haku’s true form of a dragon in “Spirited Away” was unbelievably beautiful. The other moment is probably the fight between Maggie Cheung and Ziyi Zhang in “Hero”; when the leaves swirl and turn red, it became imprinted onto my mind somehow, and yes, hooked me.

  • 17 4-25-2009 at 12:53 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    A few that come off the top of my head:

    Almost every second of Raging Bull, but the one that always sticks out is “You never got me down Ray.”

    The shot at the very end of “Bicycle Theives” of the father and son just walking, not saying anything, both of them realizing the viscous circle of life.

    The ending of Apocalypse Now.

    The last third or so of Brokeback Mountain (which I’m pleased to see other people were affected by as much as I was).

    And the “Theiving Magpie” rape sequence in “Clockwork Orange.” Such a great illustration of how music is such an inherent part of our lives. A much, much better illustration than any number in a musical film. So Katie, I would agree with Aaron that Kelley’s version is only the second best rendition of that song in film.

  • 18 4-25-2009 at 1:20 pm

    John H. Foote said...

    Katie — the beauty of Singin’ in the Rain in “A Clockwork Orange” is the pervisity with which Kubrick chooses to use it — such a lovely moment is twisted into something ugly and evil that you simply cannot look away from — stunning — and for you ‘Apocalypse Now” fans that startling rise of Sheen out of the swamp, his head slicked with oil, the lightning flashing on him — so many, keep them coming — be great to hear from Guy…

  • 19 4-25-2009 at 1:48 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    John: see comment #10… ;-)

    So many more, though… I need to meditate on this a while…

  • 20 4-25-2009 at 3:40 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Final sequences of “Heat” and “The Usual Suspects.”

  • 21 4-25-2009 at 7:03 pm

    Katie said...

    I thought of two more, When Mufasa died in The Lion King — that was my Bambi/Dead mommy moment in my childhood.

    and the 15 minute ballet sequence in “The Red Shoes”, can’t believe I forgot that. Not a moment, i know, but if I had to pick just a few seconds, it would be be when the darkness gathers around her, and the music hits it’s crescendo and she points towards the sky. ahh…it’s silly to describe it in words, or at least I can’t manage. See it!

  • 22 4-26-2009 at 5:23 am

    limeymcfrog said...

    I was 6 years old and my mother got us slightly late to The Princess Bride. Luckily we came in right as Carey Elwes and Mandy Patinkin began their swordfight. That moment, and the rest of the movie caused us not only to stay and see the beginning of the film again, we watched the whole thing over again. I didn’t have to insist, nor did my mother even think to ask if I wanted to stay. She knew I wanted to see the whole thing over again because she did too.

  • 23 4-26-2009 at 8:08 am

    Joe.f said...

    Seven Samurai in general was just a huge wake up call to me that film was infact an artform.

    Moments that impacted me. The first Ezekiel 25.17 monologue in Pulp Fiction. When it cuts to the close up of Jackson turning around, the anger in his eyes is incredible. The “layla” piano breakdown in goodfellas. The opening of Raging Bull and Saving Private Ryan. Specific shots in “the fall”. The incredible crane shot when the protagonists first see boats full of natives in Apoc Now. The final showdown in Oldboy. Any major monologue in Network.

  • 24 4-26-2009 at 9:17 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    A few more:

    The appearance of the first frog in “Magnolia,” leading into the storm — you just knew the film was about to head into deepest left field.

    Jack Lemmon with the maracas in “Some Like It Hot” kills me every single time.

    The balloon bursting in “The Red Balloon” had a deep and scarring impact on me as a very young child.

    And let’s not even get started on the deer shooting in “The Yearling.”

    It may sound obvious, but Michelle Pfeiffer’s “Making Whoopee” number in “The Fabulous Baker Boys” marked probably the first time I was turned on by a movie.

    The rising of the Stalin-emblazoned hot air balloon in “Burnt by the Sun” gives me shivers every time.

    For shivers of a different kind, Nicole Kidman’s appearance on the swing in “Moulin Rouge” — surely one of the all-time great movie entrances.

    Harrison Ford jumping from the sewer into the waterfall in “The Fugitive” took my breath away when I first saw it as a kid.

    Ana’s final vision of Frankenstein in “The Spirit of Beehive” — absolutely heart-stopping.

    I’ll stop there. I need to rewatch some movies.

  • 25 4-26-2009 at 12:06 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Also, the whole movie in general, but especially the last fifteen or so minutes of Taxi Driver. I didn’t know who this guy Scorsese was at the time, but what I saw in that film, most notably when DeNiro shoots himself with his hand, opened my eyes to the possibilities of film.

  • 26 4-26-2009 at 12:10 pm

    Dan said...

    I’m also relatively young, so the movie that got me was The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring. I didn’t even know what LOTR was when I went to see the film-I only went because my older brother was a fan of the books and dragged me along. I was blown away and am so thankful to Peter Jackson for making the film. Big, beautiful films like Star Wars, ET, and LOTR are special films, and I look forward to the next film like those that will have such an impact on so many people.

    Likewise, Brokeback Mountain made me feel the saddest I’ve ever felt during a movie.

  • 27 4-26-2009 at 12:11 pm

    chad said...

    I’d say you were more than just slightly late limeymcfrog

  • 28 4-26-2009 at 12:41 pm

    Jack said...

    The ending of Heat.
    Harvey Dent’s last few coin flips between Batman and Gordon in The Dark Knight.
    Clarice Starling’s last conversation with Hannibal Lector before he escapes in Silence of the Lambs.
    When Frodo is on the shore and ponders whether or not to keep going and he hears Gandalf’s voice in the end of The Fellowship of the Ring.
    Sam saying to Frodo “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you” and Aragorn turning and saying “For Frodo” towards the end of Return of the King.
    Kevin Costner’s conversation with X in JFK.

  • 29 4-26-2009 at 2:04 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Looks like the Lord of the Rings films have left an immense impact on many many people. Definitely this generation’s “Star Wars,” but way better. ;)

  • 30 4-26-2009 at 4:27 pm

    John H. Foote said...

    Hey Speaking English — I took a great deal of heat a short time ago (on another site) for suggesting that “The Lord of the Rings” saga had surpassed the original “Star Wars” trilogy in its impact and art — I was a teenager when I saw “Star Wars” for the first time, loved it but Jackson surpassed what Lucas accomplished with ‘The Lord of the Rings” — mesmerizing, regal, majestic, moving, poignant — everything that ‘Star Wars” was…just better — I kloved the adventures of Luke, and got goosebumps when Vader told him he was his father, but “The Lord of the Rings” held me for more than ten hours, allowing me to get close and care for the characters, the effects forever seared into my mind — loved those films…

  • 31 4-26-2009 at 6:21 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    You can argue artistic merit till the cows come home but there is no argument when it comes to impact yet. Star Wars changed the industry. The Lord of the Rings hasn’t.

  • 32 4-26-2009 at 6:36 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Count me out on the LOTR influence. And I really don’t care how much I get bashed for this either, so don’t waste too much of your time. To me, they’re just above average fantasy stories and just about the only greatness comes from the source material as a reference and the extremely large budget.

    I’ll always be lamenting the probability that two of this decades most prominent films are these three and The Passion (ugh).

    And I’ll just never understand how LOTR could inspire somebody more than say a movie like Synecdoche , New York. Talk about the profundity of that being seared into the mind.

    Now, have fun.

  • 33 4-26-2009 at 7:04 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    There is something to both. It’s okay to be inspired by the way something like Lord of the Rings can make a million people feel and the way something like Synecdoche New York can make just you feel.

  • 34 4-26-2009 at 7:14 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Because “Synecdoche, New York” is a mess of a film, a jumble of ideas, wonderings, philosophies, quandaries, and confusions that spill onto the screen with no structure or remote sense of semblance. It’s fascinating, granted, but it’s a fascinating mind-number. Not pleasant or particularly enjoyable.

  • 35 4-26-2009 at 11:04 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    (Yes it’s very long, but most everyone here seems to care so much about LOTR and films of the like that you should be able to take some time and read about it).

    Speaking English, do you mean a mess of a film and a jumble of ideas as opposed to the basic introduction of characters and setting, followed by a problem or conflict, followed by an attempt towards resolution, followed by a climax where that problem is resolved or not and then the understanding of the effects of this resolution. I can see how Synecdoche would seem a jumble of ideas as opposed to this. It’s not meant to be very pleasant and in a certain sense, it is not meant to be enjoyable.

    And funny, your entire post would be a perfect review/analysis of Caden’s play/life from one of his actors/himself. I mean verbatim.

    You, and other people also, should check out an essay posted a short while back on filmbrain.com (a good site in itself also). It’s nothing mind blowing, but it is very interesting, partly enlightening, and going back to this post, tells of how the movie inspired another person.

    And Chad H, you basically summed up my argument very well. When everyone on here has described what movies influenced them, I strongly sense that for the most part they are talking about movies that stimulated their interest into the medium of motion pictures in itself. When I think about movies that influenced me, I think almost entirely about ones that influence my life and the way I view the world around me. So sure movies like Godfather and Pulp Fiction inspire me to be a filmmaker, and that holds a lot of importance no doubt, but films like Bicycle Thieves and Almost Famous are the ones that inspire one to live and are the ones have a greater effect on how people perceive their own lives in comparison with others. The sheer sense of awe in the parting of the Red Sea may introduce you to the wonder of cinema, but the final scenes between Ennis and Jack in Brokeback, or “Tiny Dancer” playing on the bus, or Randy’s final Ram Jam, put into perspective the true value of our short lives. For me, nothing in LOTR said anythin profound at all about the human experience. Sure, there were some philosophical thoughts of morality and some utilitarian ideals sprinkled in there, but certainly nothing more than you find in any other drama. Yet somehow, the grand scale of the technology and the story have combined to augment to no end the importance of these ideas. The characters and their endeavors, the conflicts, the goals, all of this seems to be given some sense of true value and meaning through the use of our technological advances in this field through the years. How any of that can compare with just the shot of Caden sitting in a chair behind a table filled with a never ending flood of all of his Post-Its, a man full of ideas, ideas that will never happen in his life or his play? A man who is seemingly cursed and doomed by his last name, but perhaps we are all burdened in some way. How CGI compares with that I don’t know. And sure this is just me, but I don’t sense the meaning that some of these other films mentioned could have on other people’s lives.

    I fully realize that my subjectivity digresses from the original topic and I certainly don’t want anybody to think that everyone should be influenced by essentially the same films. That is not what I am saying at all. My only problem is that I fail to see how many of the films mentioned on here truly influence how people go about their day to day lives aside from seeing images or hearing quotes in their mind and thinking how awesome that was. Maybe this isn’t the real intent of the poll. Maybe it WAS just to be about which films got you interested in movies. If that is true, I think it is rather a shame, because I would much rather hear from people about which movies actually tapped into their truest sense of self.

    In philosophy, there’s kind of an unofficial saying that you can divide nearly all philosophies and moral views into two separate categories: the Aristotelian view and the Nietzschean view. It’s agreed that it is pretty irrelevant to argue over which is more influential (so much in fact that it is basically never done) because they each had their own unique theories, yet one can justifiably say that almost all of Nietzsche’s doctrine was grounded in pure fundamental opposition to Aristotle (which is perfectly analogous to our Jazz Singer and Battleship Potemkin discussions on this site). So with that problem out of the way, the only thing to really question, and the question that the philosophers say should be asked amongst one another is not “Who is the most influential philosopher?,” but instead, “Which philosopher has influenced YOUR LIFE?” In other words, whose set of ethics do you subscribe to and live by (btw, never ever say god, especially to one of them)? That is the question that is important and the one that should be asked. That is why it should be obvious and indisputable that “Battleship Potemkin” and “The Jazz Singer” (even though it technically wasn’t the first) are two of the most influential films of all time insofar as the change the incited in the industry after them. Anyone who disputes that claim could almost be proven wrong, as that is factual information. Shouldn’t we be wanting to know what movies made people really examine their lives and their status on this world (and if you’ve never had an experience like that, you need to open your eyes more, because it can happen). Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t see any way in which films like the LOTR trilogy profoundly affected people’s LIVES, not their attitude towards movies. There is a difference. “Double Indemnity” and “Reservoir Dogs” had a huge impact on the light in which I look at movies. So did “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” and “Saving Private Ryan,” but only within the context of film. That is why I appear to be the only one who sees the irrelevancy and the fallacy of the intended objectivity of this list. When you make it that way, people are either right or wrong. It is basically a battle between the informed and uninformed in seeing which has greater numbers. But if you were to take that objectivity out, there would be no right or wrong; just people saying why they felt this way about something. It would also be interesting to see which films supporters have the most intelligible reasons for their picks. This poll, if people were to fully grasp the true intent of the proposal, would offer up the best idea of what films, and likewise what ideas and symbolic scenarios people found the most striking in their film viewing.
    I appreciate your time.

  • 36 4-27-2009 at 1:10 am

    Dan said...


    Thank you for elaborating on your earlier thoughts. I suppose this issue comes down to the manner in which a person values films. I am much more interested in the way a film makes me feel (tone, mood, ect), how the film functions visually, ect than what it says about my life (for the most part). If I want to reflect on my life, I might go to a different medium than film for inspiration.

    LOTR may not have changed the way I look at life, but the breathtaking images, exceptional score, and emotions (pure and simple as they may be) have definitely suck with me over the years.

  • 37 4-27-2009 at 3:59 am

    John H. Foote said...

    Scott — great post but I strongly disagree that nothing in “LOTR” spoke about life as we know it today — think about it — we live in cowardly times, when a man can order an attack on a city that will stun the world, then hide in his caves, while the response is an attack on another nation altogether — a time when lives are being lost for a war predicated on a lie — that moment when Aragorn turns and says to Gandalf “For Frodo” mean something to me — it spoke of heroism, and self sacrifice, of dying for the greater good of fighting on when you know you are doomed — the films spoke of how the ones we least expect can change the world…the hobbitts…are they metaphorically something else?? I do not know the writer well enough to suggest what they might be but is seems to me he was writing about our world transferred to the Shire — was Tolkein influenced by the war? Likely…

    Anyway the comments have been great — one last point — I agree that “Star Wars” changed the industry in terms of the manner in which are released and made, “LOTR” has not done that — in terms of art, the merging of effects with live action, bringing soul to characters in fantasy, Jackson certainly surpassed Lucas.

    And finally, I would ever attack for opinion, that is stupid, just as it is stupid to attack me for mine — there was a comment in there about getting off-track (ain’t it great when that happens…we learn so much from each other)…great posts all…God we love movies don’t we??

  • 38 4-27-2009 at 10:55 am

    Chris said...

    Oh the good old “scenes that defined us” debate.

    Well, as I’m only 21, I’m only going to include films that came out during my lifetime and which I saw in cinemas.

    – the brachiosaurus in “Jurassic Park”. It was such an amazing thing to see…
    – Truman’s boat bumping into the sky in “The Truman Show”.
    – “Wise up” in “Magnolia”.
    – the attempted suicide in “The Royal Tenenbaums”.
    – the crash, the first kiss in Hawaii, and the confrontation in “Punch-Drunk Love”.
    – Joel’s attempt to hide Clementine in his childhood memories in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”.
    – the waltz with Bashir in “Waltz with Bashir”.

  • 39 4-27-2009 at 11:31 am

    Scott Ward said...

    True Chris, the “Wise Up” scene was very moving. As the viewer, I almost felt as if I had reached a breaking point there also.