When characters are sentenced to death in movies, it’s usually a big deal. Directors often shoot the scene with a lot of heart and feeling, and even if it’s a serial killer that’s being put out of his misery, it’s hard not to feel some sort of emotion. Here are five of my personal favourites, in no particular order:
NB: Spoilers Ahead!
1: John Coffey, The Green Mile (1999)
The culmination of three intense hours of spiritual revelation, lighthearted comedy and dark discoveries is a poignant, heartbreaking scene in which an innocent man is put to death for the murder of two girls. Paul Edgecomb’s narrated monologue which follows is equally as saddening as the scene in question itself:
2: Selma, Dancer in the Dark (2001)
In Lars von Trier’s Palme D’Or-winning film, we meet Selma (Björk), a naive woman who comes to America with hopes of starring in musicals and saving her son from blindness, but only ends up double-crossed, alone and sentenced to death. Her inevitable hanging at the end of the film is one of the saddest scenes in the history of film, and definitely the best on this list. Excuse me, I have something in my eye…
3: Gordon Northcott, Changeling (2008)
Okay, well this guy had it coming. A serial killer with a seed of murderous rage inside him, Northcott may just be a very sick man, but nevertheless, his confession to the murder of dozens of children is as chilling as his eventual hanging. While the hanging scene itself might be a tad overdone, it’s certainly memorable and worthy of this list.
4: Matthew Poncelet, Dead Man Walking (1995)
Poncelet may or may not be a killer, but you can’t deny that he did not deserve death. The long-awaited sequence in which he is given the lethal injection, is one of the most chilling sequences of death I’ve ever seen. When it’s over, we don’t feel sad or overcome with grief, no, it is more like disbelief that such a thing has just happened so slowly, yet subtly.
5: The Scapegoats, Paths of Glory (1957)
The inevitable execution scene in Stanley Kubrick’s war masterpiece is incredibly brief. It lasts probably only a second, and that is not because the director quickly cuts away from it. We are shown the brutal murder of three innocent soldiers by firing squad. They are shot dozens of times within seconds and their screaming lasts such a small time that we can’t believe it has actually happened. This is an incredibly wise choice by Kubrick, as it punctuates the haunting reality of just how common and careless murders were in those times.
A video of the scene, which is worth watching, can be found here.
So there, those are my top five picks. Anything you’d like to add? Any comments you’d like to make on my choices? Leave a comment below.
It’s a shame films don’t have them any more. Some say they’re out of date, but I believe they’re part of what made the cinematic experience in the 50s and 60s (particularly in David Lean films) the best, even though I wasn’t alive in that era. I’m talking about overtures, a fragment of film scores which seem to have escaped us. Some of you might remember when you went to the cinemas a while back and they had that really, blaring triumphant music, before the film had even started. That’s what I’m talking about. Here are five memorable overtures — not necessarily the best, but ones that spring to mind — when I think of those great themes.
1: Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
In David Lean’s best movie, we are greeted with the fantastic, epic tale of war and peace that spans an amazing timeline. From breathtaking cinematography to amazing acting and everything in between, it’s impossible not to rejoice when we hear or see the first few frames of this magnificent movie.
2: Ben-Hur (1959)
I have a lot of admiration for the incomprehensible effort that went into the making of this movie, and although it’s not one of my favourites, it sure is beautiful to look at, and a success in my book. And the opening… sublime.
3: The Ten Commandments (1956)
When it comes to historical epics, even if you have an admittedly sub-par movie, as I feel this is, at least you’re likely to have a great soundtrack, and this is certainly no exception.
4: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1967)
Though when many people think of the music at the start of this Kubrick classic, they think of it’s fantastic, epic opening to the tune of Also Sprach Zarathustra, that, technically, is not the film’s overture. The real overture comes before it, but in the interest of sound and satisfaction, I’ll include a clip from that memorable opening scene instead.
5: Dancer in the Dark (2001)
Ah… You’ve got to admire Lars von Trier for putting in an awesome overture for his film long after they had died out. Perhaps the most epic of them all, the amazing emotion I feel when listening to this track will always stay with me.
So those are my choices, now… what’s yours?
What overtures do you cherish every time you hear their notes? What do you think of my choices? Leave a comment and lemme know what you think.
Thanks for reading.
The following list is ten movies that ‘define me.’ These are movies that changed the way I looked at cinema, and helped to craft my perspective on film in general. These are not necessarily my Top Ten favourite films, but one or two from that ten will be present.
In no particular order:
There Will Be Blood
From the moment I first saw Daniel Day-Lewis in In The Name of the Father, I knew I was looking at one talented man. Then I saw this movie, and I was blown away. This is one of the few movies that actually caused my jaw to drop at its aching perfectness. A masterpiece.
Proclaimed repetitively the best movie of all time, Citizen Kane may not be that, but it is breathtaking in its painfully honest portrayal of greed and heartlessness, the carelessness and ignorance of the human soul. It was the first film ever to touch upon issues such as this in the manner which it did, and coming from a twenty-something man, that was something rare indeed.
A Serious Man
Admittedly not my favourite Coen brothers movie, A Serious Man is nevertheless a vitally important reason why they are so great. Though I’m not a Jew, this movie spoke to my inner emotions and frustrations. I think of myself as a very different man to Larry Gopnik, though his distraught plight and repressed dislike of his own selfish situation is brutally honest and without mercy.
Dancer in the Dark
From its unique opening of various collaborations of beautiful art pieces as a fantastic score plays in the opening, to the depressing ending which I’m not ashamed to say is the ONLY film ending that has ever made me cry, Lars von Trier’s dogme-influenced musical masterpiece is a unique event that manages to capture something more than a camera could convey.
You probably know that this is my favourite film of all time. It’s an achingly hard decision to make, but all things considered, I’ve NEVER felt the way I felt while watching this movie. Every single tiny aspect of the way it was made was life-changing for me, and helped to confirm the suspicion that I was destined to watch and love movies.
A lot of movies have changed the way I look at films, but Persona changed the way I looked at “cinema.” There is a difference. Bergman reminds us we’re watching a film, and the film itself features some stunning acting and breathtaking cinematography, all thanks to Bergman, Sven Nykvist, Liv Ullmann and Bibi Andersson, as well as everyone else involved. No one had the brains of Bergman, and it’s due to his creative vision that films are made like they are today.
Eyes Wide Shut
An often ignored and hated Kubrick film, Eyes Wide Shut is actually a feast for the senses, and contains important messages about society, living, marriage, jealousy, hatred and discovery. Whether its Nicole Kidman’s brilliant (no, fantastic) adulterous monologue or Gyorgy Ligeti’s creepy piano theme whose notes play with a striking tune like a slap in the face, this slow-paced masterpiece which seems to go nowhere is actually a film to be re-examined and thought about.
Lynch’s most famous and probably his best film, this strangely scary and atmospherically surreal 150-minute masterwork is a strange, puzzling riddle with disturbing thematic echoes of the heartless mouth of Hollywood, rejection, sexuality and emotion. It’s a real ride.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Often mistakenly filed away as ‘long’ and ‘boring,’ Stanley Kubrick’s classic sci-fi is in reality a beautiful analysis of human evolution, the creation and existence of life, and possibilities for the daunting spectre of the future, as well as alien existence and extraterrestrial intelligence. Embrace your inner Star Child.
Paths of Glory
If I had to pick a war movie that ‘defined me,’ I would scan through all the possibilites, but they all lead to Paths of Glory. It is a moving, determined and no holds barred awesomely truthful analysis of war and the tumultuous toll it has on its survivors, as well as the people who watch and run it all. Very powerful.
There you go. Ten Movies that Define Me. Some interesting picks there, I’m sure you’re thinking. Please, leave a comment with your thoughts and tell me what your ‘defining’ movies are.
Thanks for reading.
I’ve been thinking about what to post next, how to keep the ideas entertaining, and I’ve got a few notes down for future posts, but for today, I’m going to stick to a subject many have attempted to tackle and often, succeeded in getting laughs. That’s right, the movie title mash-up. You know, where you combine the titles of two movies to make one super-movie and keep the laughs rolling in. If you know your cinema, its not a hard thing to do. Here’s my attempt at some movie title mash ups:
Lost Highway in Space
Star Wars of the Roses
Dead Silence of the Lambs
2001: Homer’s Odyssey
The Princess Bride Wars
Boogie Nights in Cabiria
A Clockwork Orange County
After the Sunset Blvd.
The Lost Weekend at Bernie’s
Shaun of the Dead Snow
The Man with the Naked Gun
An Andalusian Dogtooth
I Am Legend of the Falls
Inland Empire of the Sun
The Elephant Man with the Iron Mask
The Basketball Diaries of a Wimpy Kid
Mao’s Last Dancer in the Dark
Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Age of Innocence
Last Tango in Paris, Texas
The Wild One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Groundhog Day the Earth Stood Still
Let me know what you think of these in the comments, and as usual…
Thanks for reading.