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The Movie Hole

Great Movie Moments Vol. 1

JJ Mortimer

When I think of movie "moments", I think of those particular scenes that transcend imagination, taking on a life of their own and can inspire certain uncontrollable feelings of excitement, happiness, or even faith.  Usually these particular "moments" are all involving something very positive or uplifting, or are just so immediately iconic that they become a part of the pantheon of pop culture; perhaps something that even changed the way I look at life, to some degree.  Below are two such scenes or "moments", with a bit of reasoning behind each choice.

Also of note:  Both of these particular scenes highlighted in my "Volume One" are my two favorite, or what I consider to be the best, in motion picture history.

 

JAWS

1975 - Universal Pictures

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Scene Starring:  Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider, and Richard Dreyfuss

The "Indianapolis Speech"

Jaws was and is still one of the biggest summer blockbusters of all time, changing the way people to this day think about sharks and swimming in the ocean.  The film is terrifying even to this day.

Quint's speech about his service upon the doomed U.S.S. Indianapolis is something special because the film is brought down to a different level of terror, and for a brief moment, his words are more frightening than any shark violence that occurred before in the film. 

There is an obvious Ahab-like quality to Quint, and his eventual doom is less surprising as it is vicious, disturbing, and surprisingly powerful - what makes it so is that his character isn't necessarily the one we relate to the most (that would more likely be reserved for Chief Brody), but his story is given the most emotional context.  In one remorseful, darkly-delivered speech, Quint goes from the cliche' "crusty old captain" to a "man", with scars that go deep and beyond the skin-laden ones he shares with Hooper.  This single scene is the most viewed in my film-watching history. 

Watch the scene multiple times, starting at the part where they share their scars, even if you've seen the film a dozen times before.  As you watch the speech, listen to Robert Shaw's delivery first, and then re-watch it again to see his eyes.  There's a feeling that goes beyond the words he helped to write in the script, and a darkness that transcends fiction.  For me, this is arguably the greatest scene in movie history, either in or out of the context of the film.

GLORY

1989 - TriStar Pictures

Directed by Edward Zwick

Scene Starring:  Denzel Washington, Matthew Broderick, John Finn, Cary Elwes

The flogging

Between the "Indianapolis speech" from Jaws and this particular scene from what is actually my favorite film of all time in 1989's Glory, I had a very difficult decision to make when choosing which scene was actually my favorite.  I came to the conclusion that both are a near tie, but the "flogging scene" is easily the more deeply emotional and powerful on a human level.  If Denzel Washington was in no other scene in this film, he still would have won the Supporting Actor Oscar for this one scene alone.

There is a particular shame in the eyes of Broderick's Colonel Shaw as he does what is expected of his position, but notably against what he knows of as a man.  The punishment is based on a hierarchy of discipline - a notion that all the men under his command are aware of - but the moment Sgt. Mulcahy pulls the shirt off the back of the soldier, revealing a history of scars from years of slavery and punishment, we all know the enormity (and difficulty) in performing such a duty.

Everything about the drama of the scene is perfect.  James Horner's score builds to highlight, but never overpower, the impact of a single tear rolling down Private Trip's cheek as he never breaks eye contact with his superior.  In one scene, his cocky, ignorant, pain-in-the-ass soldier becomes the man who was hidden underneath the shell that he created to overshadow the hell he lived in for years.