Movies can manipulate us in ways that we never thought possible. Perhaps The Shining disturbed you so much that every time you see a hallway, a naked woman in a bath or identical twins, you immediately put your hands over your mouth and sob.
Yet, it could be argued, that what we remember most from a movie, isn’t necessarily how we felt whilst watching it, but what actually happened – or to be more precise: what scene had the most impact on us.
Below, I have listed my 30 of the most memorable moments in cinema, they have been listed there because they are personal to me and because they are instantly recognisable.
1) The Deer Hunter – The Russian Roulette Scenes
The Deer Hunter is a disturbingly powerful movie, where its effect on the audience effectively clings on to the few scenes where the characters play Russian Roulette either because they’re being forced to, or…for fun. There’s an old movie cliche about ‘being at the edge of your seat’, and its never been so true with this film, the feeling of not knowing what will happen when the trigger is pulled is like no other.
2) When Harry Met Sally – Fake Orgasm in a restaurant
When Harry Met Sally is perhaps the best romantic-comedy ever made. It is my belief that the best scene in the movie is when Harry and Sally discuss why women fake orgasm during sex. Harry claims that he’s never had a girl ‘fake it’, because he thinks that he’ll know…Sally leaves him speechless by ‘faking it’ in the middle of a busy restaurant, making the loudest moans and groans possible. Classic.
3) The Shining – “Heereee’s Johny!
The most iconic scene in a horror film ever, indeed perhaps the most quotable line from a Kubrick film next to Nicole Kidman’s final word in Eyes Wide Shut.
4) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Dinner time!
That awkward moment when you wake up from being unconscious strapped to a chair in front of a family of cannibals…
5) The Human Centipede – The credit sequence
The best part about Tom Six’s ‘masterpiece’ is when it ends. Notice the way in which the credits roll up in such a petulant manner…there’s clearly symbolism there…
6) The Shawshank Redemption – The ending
I’m not ruining it.
7) The Rocky Horror Picture Show – The Floor Show
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is perhaps the most entertaining, bizarre, illogical, random, camp, brilliant film ever made. Yet the ‘Floor Show’ towards the end provides the film with an oddly quite moving and tragic ending…
8) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc – The opening of the arc
Ever since I was a child, these movies have scared me. Most notably Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when the heart’s being taken out…
However, there’s nothing quite as memorable as the section where the arc is opened and the ‘wrath of God’ murders all of the Nazis and shreds there skin off until they’re just skeletons.
9) A Clockwork Orange – The opening scene
In my opinion it’s the most mesmirising opening to a movie…ever. We start off with a close-up of the raping-murdering sociapath: 15 year-old Alex DeLarge. We then pan back and back and back to reveal his surroundings. Simple. Bizarre. Surreal. Memorable. A great opening scene.
10) Boogie Nights – Closing scene
Boogie Nights is a 3-hour movie. Throughout the movie we are told that everyone has a talent, a skill, or in the case of Dirk Diggler: an asset. He’s a porn-star which would make a horse jealous. (The joy of cheesy sexual innuendos).
Either way, we find out that his schlong is 13 inches long…and at the end of the movie…we see it…in all it’s…glory(??)…
11) Mulholland Drive – The sign…
There’s something oddly quite mystical about the sign of Mulholland Drive in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. Perhaps it is its grey nightmarish colour, or the shiny letters on it, or the music that accompanies the shot of it. Maybe it’s all of these.
This shot in the movie, to me is the movie’s most memorable shot, there’s something so spine-tingling about it. And I don’t know why. It’s a mystery that can’t be solved…almost like the film itself.
12) 2001: A Space Odyssey – The ‘stargate sequence’
The poster for Kubrick’s 2001 says “the ultimate trip”, and I can’t quite help but associate this and the ‘stargate sequence’ in the film, indeed, Kubrick takes us on the “ultimate trip” in this section. Colours, shapes, space, light, time, infinity, eternity swirl around in patterns and zoom past our eyes. It’s a ‘spectacle’ to say the least.
13) Monty Python and the Holy Grail – The Knights who say “Ni!”
The most random joke in a very random and very funny film.
14) The Godfather – That awkward moment when you find a horse’s head in your bed
Perhaps the most iconic moment in cinema is when the Hollywood-hotshot finds the horse’s head in his bed as he wakes up.
15) Fight Club – Let’s steal some soap
Perhaps one of the best bits from Fight Club is when Tyler and Jack go to steal some soap. Or to be more precise, fat to make soap…fat taken from people who’ve had liposuction that is.
Ahhh…I love the sharp humour in this film.
16) Un Chien Andalou – Casually slicing an eye
Surrealist masterpiece which has unfortunately been brought down by one image: the slicing of an eyeball. Indeed, this image occurs in the first 5 minutes of the film, yet it’s downfall for it being associated with this just one image is perhaps also its success as well. After all, no masterpiece was never controversial.
17) 12 Angry Men – The whole film
Well I’ve listed lots of scenes…and I know I know this is cheating, but 12 Angry Men takes place in one whole scene, so I’m letting it in. It’s also a very good scene: well-directed, well-acted and a dazzlingly complex study of human nature and what happens when you put 12 blokes around the table and make them debate over whether a man should live or die.
18) The Silence of the Lambs – The first encounter
The film builds up to this great encounter, even when Clarice is outside that infamous corridor she’s told that she can’t bring in any pens or metal objects. Indeed hopes do not fall, Anthony Hopkins gives a chilling performance which made him win an Oscar.
19) Reservoir Dogs – Ear slicing
Quentin Tarantino is not just talented by managing to put the word ‘motherfucker’ at any point in one of his scripts, but by being able to direct violence exceptionally well. We see violence so often on the screen, and due to this, it hardly ever affects us. A most recent example would be The Hunger Games, where the violence/deaths have little or no effect. However, we see the opposite in Reservoir Dogs, it makes us react and wince in our chairs.
20) Pulp Fiction – Overdosing
I would happily say this is the best sequence in Pulp Fiction. After Mia overdoses, Tarantino makes Travolta drive her straight to the dealer. Comedy is induced with the disturb in a dazzlingly original way. And we wince when the needle is plunged straight into the heart (have you seen how big the needle is?!). Either way, it could be argued that this is the best section in Pulp Fiction.
21) Halloween – Opening shot
The opening shot of the classic slasher movie, Halloween, is arguably the best opening shot of a horror movie. Ever. We see young Michael Myers go into the house, grab a butchers knife, go up the stairs, put a mask on, and stab his sister…all from his own eyes. Impactful and disturbing, if it’s none of those two, it’s definitely memorable.
22) Blue Velvet – Scissors…
Frank Booth is the hideous sexual pervert in David Lynch’s controversial 1986 classic Blue Velvet. Not only does he kidnap Dorothy’s husband, but he does more. He verbally abuses Dorothy, hits her, insults her, and sexually abuses her with a trusty pair of scissors. You may not like this film, but this scene is certainly unforgettable to say the least.
23) Before Sunrise – CD Booth scene
Linklater’s Before Sunrise is all about its subtleties, and there’s nothing else as subtle as when we see our two ‘lovers’ enter the CD booth and look at each other and then look away…repeatedly…
24) Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb – Riding the bomb
The mother of all political satires ends in the best way imaginable (and we know it’s coming)…Major Kong riding a bomb down towards earth…ahhhh…the joys of originality.
25) Trainspotting – There’s a baby on the wall
Never have baby’s been so terrifying…
Renton, heroine-addict is locked in his room and force to ‘quit junk’, he has various hallucinations…and my God, you won’t want to baby-sit after watching this movie.
26) The Man With the Golden Gun – Face off
Best moment in a Bond film…ever.
27) Citizen Kane – The ending…
Critics claim it to be the best film ever made year in year out, I on the other hand think it’s mediocre and so overrated it’s vomit-inducing.
Click on the link to find out what rosebud is…if you want to that is…
28) Psycho – Shower scene
The most damous scene in a horror/thriller ever, and perhaps the scene Hitchcock is most well-known for. I don’t think I need to describe what happens, the image above is so iconic that it literally speaks for itself.
29) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Partayyyy
Wheelchairs…part-poppers…alcohol…laughter…and general fun! The party scene in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest isn’t just funny but a satirical bite at totalitarianism and why all humans deserve to be free, to have fun and not be opressed by the ruling masses.
30) The Green Mile – Cooking time…
There are lots of ‘cooking scenes’ in this film, and surprise, surprise they all happen on an electric chair. Lovely!