Best Movie Scenes

March 17, 2010

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I’m no movie critic but love the medium. That’s why my wife and I yearn for a three-movie day. We squeezed in three on the Friday and Saturday before the Oscars. (Each received a top award: best actor, actress, and movie.) Thus my interest in “The greatest movie scenes ever shot,” touted on the eclectic kottke.org. Compiled by film makers and a critic, the list includes several films I’ve seen. The description of a French movie I had never heard of, Jules et Jim, intrigued me enough to order it from Netflix.

As I read the list and scene synopses, a film that should have made the cut flickered to life. But I admit my objectivity is compromised, considering my emotional attachment to The Graduate. Then again, how a movie makes one feel has to count for something, even with critics.

The list prompted me to rewatch The Graduate‘s closing sequence for the first time in years. The drama in the church, including Ben symbolically wielding a cross as a weapon, and Ben and Elaine’s shifting expressions as they flee on a city bus, are perfect bookends. Viewers are compelled to inhabit the characters’ minds, imagining what they’re thinking and feeling en route to an uncertain future. It’s difficult not to experience vicariously what looks like excitement, joy, regret, doubt, and fear moving across their faces.

Actors Dustin Hoffman and Katherine Ross say nothing in the film’s final minute and forty seconds, yet the images cry out with unspoken words. Despite the passage of forty-three years, the magic remains.

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