(10) Talk to me Goose! / Top Gun (1986)
As you know, Top Gun was a smash hit in the 80s. It had everything that appealed to the generation. There was the speed, the allure and the testosterone. There was the slick entertainment violence and the breathtaking supersonic battle sequences. But beneath the cool surface was also a human story. The kind of story that resonates with audiences, subtly, almost imperceptibly. The film conveyed important life lessons that left a lasting impression, whether we as an audience realized it or not. It was a story about redemption, loyalty and trust. But above all, a story about believing in yourself. It’s easy to put on a pretty facade but to truly believe in yourself is another matter entirely and for large parts of Top Gun we see a Maverick filled with self-doubt. Not least in the heartbreaking moment when he and Goose are forced to eject from the plane and the co-pilot dies. Then at the end of the film, when he is forced to choose between running away or fighting badly, he chooses the latter and convulsively holds onto his friend’s dog tags while repeating, “Talk to me Goose.” A mantra that then followed all the way to the sequel 36 years later.
(09) The attack on the temple / Ran (1985)
Sure, there are almost an infinite number of scenes in film history where an attack on a specific building is the focus. It’s an effective grip that’s been used on everything from medieval castles to modern skyscrapers, yet there’s one attack that stands out from the crowd. Namely the one in Akira Kurosawa’s Ran. The director’s last great epic was a samurai version of Shakespeare’s King Lear and it was his most daring and ambitious project of his career and nothing describes it better than the attack on the so-called Third Temple. A scene as epic as it is gruesome that makes it clear that the viewer is witnessing a devastation on a colossal scale, filled with gut-wrenching imagery and a brilliant use of color. It is a scene that is as beautiful as it is destructive. The attack on the Third Temple is a monumental event in modern cinematic history, managing to be both chaotic and terrifying while being visually stunning and breathtaking.
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(08) Whip vs Pistol / Indiana Jones: The Hunt for the Lost Treasure (1981)
In the hands of Harrison Ford, Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones, Jr. a character bigger than the films he appeared in and no obstacle seemed too powerful for him. Whether it’s about angry natives, corpulent Nazis or beefy muscle men. So when in Hunt for the Lost Treasure he finds himself face to face with a wildly swinging swordsman in the middle of Cairo, expectations are high. A raging duel between this clearly very skilled gentleman and Indiana with his whip. Every twelve-year-old was literally bouncing up and down in their movie theater seat with excited happiness at the violence that awaits. But instead the dear doctor coldly draws his revolver and brings down the swordsman with a well-aimed shot and a weary grimace. A moment of pure brilliance but which also has a fun explanation. According to the producers, the basic idea was that the scene would be significantly longer with a protracted battle between the two combatants. But Ford, who was suffering from dysentery at the time, could only manage to film ten minutes at a time, which, after a discussion with Spielberg, led to the “whip against the pickaxe doll” that we all love today.
(07) ET on a bike / E.T (1982)
It is difficult to define the term “Spielbergian magic” in mere words: it must rather be experienced on the big screen to understand the true meaning of Steven Spielberg’s way of evoking emotions with moving images. However, the breathtaking storytelling technique of the beloved film director would not have been the same without John Williams’ captivating music composition and this is especially the case with the family classic E.T. Spielberg & Williams and perhaps the most magical scene in the entire film is the one that eventually became the official logo for Spielberg’s production company Amblin Entertainment. When Elliot suddenly flies in his bike with the help of ET’s telekinesis (translation: the power of love) in both the forest scene and the sequence where the boys escape from the authorities is pure movie magic. Williams captures a childhood, a spirit of adventure, an upbringing, a wonder that few film scores can match, and Spielberg’s visual prowess makes the cycling scenes into bygone dreams.
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(06) Here comes Johnny! / The Shining (1980)
The eighties were a decade chock full of distinct cinematic moments that have become part of the general zeitgeist and few are as instantly recognizable as Jack Nicholson’s angry nun pushed through a crack in the door to the words we all know so well. In the context of the film, the scene is of course very nasty and poor Shelley Duvall on the other hand looks genuinely horrified by Jack’s almost completely unhinged actions. The moment is no coincidence, even if the choice of dialogue was (a Johnny Carson reference that Nicholson concocted there and then). No the intensity is genuine frustration not only from the actor’s preparatory work just before shooting but also because of the ever so eccentric director. Stanley Kubrick is said to have only allowed Nicholson to eat cheese sandwiches for several days before, specifically because he knew this was something he detested. Something that only lends even more wonderful texture to the scene in all its terrifying absurdity.
The final part of this list will appear tomorrow. Do not miss it!