I did not think I had seen all that many movies. Then I thought back and went through several lists and realized – there is a whole lot of films I’ve seen.
I have chosen 14 movies that I think are iconic – and I marked the one scene or common thread that made it special.
This is Day 8 of the 180 Day Challenge “Become an Idea Machine“.
Before I get to the list though, there is one detail I’d like to mention: Back in the introduction to this challenge (see link above), I vowed to execute one of the ideas I had in the past seven days.
Thus, I will add a 3 minute break to sit back and close my eyes every day after I have finished my morning routine and report back what this can potentially add to our lives.
And now… to the list!
14 Iconic movies that can leave a deep impression on us, and why
The list actually starts with the first movie I have ever anticipated and seen in my life…
#1 – E.T. – The Extraterrestrial (Steven Spielberg)
When I saw this movie, it saddened me that you could win a new friend, and then that friend leaves you and you need to be the bigger person and let him go. Letting go is not an easy concept to understand for a 6-year-old, especially when this kid’s parents are divorced, but I think it can make an even bigger impact because of that.
#2 – Dead Poets Society
“Carpe diem” – capture the day and do what you really want. That was a message I’d never heard of before, and I would never forgot afterwards. When the teacher, played by Robin Williams, encourages a fearful student to stand up and cry a barbaric “Yawp!” – that was the moment when I knew I would not have to fear any crowd for public speaking. You have to face your fear and act in spite of it, because that’s how you make an impact.
#3 – Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones)
The vicious killer bunny and the Holy hand-grenade of Antioch, as well as the bridge troll were about the funniest scenes I have ever seen on TV, just simply because they had completely unexpected twists.
#4 – The Meaning of Life.
My favorite scene is when Death comes knocking on the door – yet the hosts completely keep their composure and politeness and annoy Death with their incessant chatter, until he finally takes the whole dinner party with him. Death is maybe not such a dramatic and horrifying affair than you would think it is. Also: “Hey, I did not eat the salmon mousse!”
#5 – Star Trek Movies (even numbers)
I don’t know why, but the even-numbered Star Trek movies were leagues better than the odd-numbered ones. Decisive scenes:
II: The Wrath of Khan
Kirk yelling “Khan!!!” in single determination, and the whole battle scene between the Enterprise and the Khan’s (cloaked) ship – nicely reflecting the duel between a submarine and destroyer as in so many war movies.
IV: The Voyage Home
The whole time travel of the Enterprise Crew into the past and McCoy giving one of the patients in the (1980’s) hospital a pill: “The doctor gave me this pill and I grew a new kidney!” Growing an organ just from a pill was one of the wildest dreams, and now? They are printing organs in the lab, and we can start growing new organs from stem cells, still in the petri dish, but not too far off from swallowing a pill either.
VI: The Undiscovered Country
The mines on Rura Penthe might have been some of the most dreadful penal colonies I have ever watched. No guard towers needed, because nothing can survive on the surface of that planet.
VIII: First Contact
The first contact between Vulcans and Humans takes place in a time period close enough to our times (2063), so you could imagine witnessing The Future yourself!
There is another Star Trek episode where the whole first contact scene works in the opposite direction:
#6 – The Empire Strikes Back (George Lucas)
This had everything a great movie needs: Friendship and betrayal, unexpected family turns, facing your fears, the force… what impressed me most though were the Imperial Walkers. They showed that the Empire had almost unlimited power not only in space, but also on the ground. Starting with the rebel colony on Hoth, you know that an epic battle is going to take place, underscored by the background music. That’s how perfect you can start off a movie.
#7 – North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock)
Speaking of dramatic turns… you don’t need dark alleys to add suspense.
#8 – The Wizard of Oz (L. Frank Baum/Richard Thorpe)
I saw it at the age of 7, and my Mom had to work, so I spent time with the neighbors. They were very traditional, and I felt that the Wizard of Oz provided exactly the same atmosphere. That was my first impression of the USA. Family and friendships.
After I had seen it once on TV, I always wanted to see it again. They just did not show it that often on TV back then. You were not even able to look up when they would show it again. You had to take what TV offered!
Now you see what a great invention the Internet is. You can see anything you like, anytime. It also shows you: if you can’t do something right now, you might be able to do it a couple of decades later.
By the way, Stephen King had several references to the Wizard of Oz in his Dark Tower series.
#9 – Das Boot (Lothar-Günther Buchheim/Wolfgang Petersen)
It was not so much the great cast of actors, but the realistic, claustrophobic crowdedness within a submarine without any fancy computers or slick design that left a lasting impression. This was real, and you could almost smell the diesel fuel, while you were with the whole crew fighting for your survival on this German submarine towards the end of World War II.
#10 – Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino)
The dialogues were some of the funniest I had ever seen, and the whole creative cutting of the scenes to reveal the narrative only towards the end of the movie was great to watch unfold.
#11 – The Matrix (Wachowski Brothers)
Once I had seen this movie, I would always associate office cubicles with soullessness and wage-slavery. It seeded doubt in my mind that working for a company day-in, day-out could make you happy until you retire. Corporations are not concerned with your well-being. Growing up in a country – Germany – where working for the government is even considered an honor by many people, this movie made me rethink my entire future.
#12 – Papillon (Henri Charriere/Franklin S. Schaffner)
The way that Papillon (Steve McQueen), survives a penal colony without losing his humanity – and is freed in the end – was one of the most impressive realizations to me when I watched. It showed me there was hope even in the darkest hours as long as we just stick to ourselves.
#13 – Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis)
TV journalist Phil Connors is trapped in a time loop in the winter in the middle of nowhere, more specifically: Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Condemned to relive the same day over and over again, he must figure out what life means to him until he is allowed to move on. For me, this symbolizes that we try and try again until we arrive where we want to be, even though there is no way of knowing for us when this will occur. But we do arrive in the end if we just keep on pushing forward.
#14 – The Godfather (Mario Puzo/Francis Ford Coppola)
This movie tells us about strong familiy tradition, friendship, betrayal and honor, weakness and strength. There is no state that provides the guidelines for the Corleone family, of course. They must come up with their own moral code. And they do.
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