When you see a great movie scene you just know it. Something hits you and you just want to utter a soft “wow”, but what is it that makes a great scene? A great scene is well thought out- staging, acting, music, and editing all come together to form a greater whole. So, in an attempt to better understand how those elements work together I’ll be analyzing two famous scenes – Se7en’s climactic ending, and Inglorious Bastard’s bar scene.
*Spoilers* If you haven’t seen Se7en go watch it now because the rest of this post will most surly spoil things.
In Se7en Kevin Spacey plays “John Doe” a deranged serial killer who’s attempting to bring light to the “Seven deadly sins” through his murders. In the finale Spacy murders Mills’s (Brad Pitt) wife offscreen then turns himself in covered in her blood. The detectives allow Spacey to lead them to his final victim in the middle of a desolate landscape whereupon a corrier arrives with a box. Somerset (Morgan Freeman) opens the box to find the severed head of Mills’ wife, and begins attempting to deescalate the situation. As the scene progresses Doe attempts to push Mills into murder thus ultimately fulfilling the final sin of wrath.
A shaky camera and strange angles further the already strong tension sending the film into its ultimate climax. The music plays along crescendo into the ultimate reveal of a pregnant murdered wife. As the reveal progresses the camera switches between Freeman, Pit, and Spacey creating a dialogue focused on the characters separate emotional states. The desolate landscape additionally furthers the emphasis on the characters as the audience has little else to focus on. The final cut of Freeman and Pit going separate ways adds gravity to the final statement regarding letting Spacey “win”.
Inglorious Bastards is a movie full of great scenes. The “bar scene” occurs midway through the movie and combines suspense with a touch of comedy for memorable effect.
The tension in this scene builds through clever camera angles and dialogue. With a carefree dialogue occurring in the foreground tension builds through the inclusion of camera cuts and body language. As the camera cuts to views of guns being drawn the audience is left wondering what the final result of the conflict will be. As the protagonists gain control of the situation tension begins to decline, and the final eruption is unexpected and satisfying.