Thanks to the YA Highway I know have Asia’s song looping in my head! But I’ll forgive them that since they posed a tricky question:
Really? Just one? *derp face*
I love whole books. I’ve never really thought about individual scenes that stand out for me in literature because I tend to look at the big picture. I’m more scene sensitive in films. When I first asked myself this question a dozen or so movie scenes instantly popped into my head, but not a single one from literature 🙁 I think that says something about me as a reader… what does that say about me as I writer? I’m going to think long and hard about this over a cup of tea…
I have returned and after some intense pondering have arrived at a conclusion.
I have many favourite books (the short list: Lost Souls, Requiem for a Dream, Neverwhere, On the Road and The Sandman series) and what I realise is that I don’t love any of theme because of specific scenes. I love them because of the way I felt while reading them, the fact that those books changed my outlook, and left a lasting impression. And I don’t think any of that was achieved by any one scene. I think of the scenes of a book like a giant spider’s web and scenes as individual strands. Fact is, I don’t love any individual strands; I love the web.
Certainly there are memorable scenes: In Lost Souls when Nothing discovers the identity of his father, in Requiem for a Dream when Marion sells herself for heroin, in On the Road when Dean and Sal head into Mexico… but none of these individual scenes really jump out at me, they’re simply memorable in the context of the story.
Movie scenes – now that’s a different story and I’m officially hijacking the topic now to comment on a few movie scenes that have left me breathless.
- STAY – the scene in which Henry Letham (Ryan Gosling) is smoking on a subway and is rudely asked by another passenger to put it out. He does. On his arm while staring straight at the other passenger. That just made me shiver and still does when I think about it to this day…
- MR NOBODY – the whole film! But if I had to choose just one scene, it would be when Nemo (Jared Leto) wakes from cryogenic sleep and first gazes upon the surface of Mars. Eerie and beautiful and tragic.
- THE FOUNTAIN – when Tomas finds the Tree of Life. Goosebumps! That entire film is just breathtaking.
- ACROSS THE UNIVERSE – so tough choosing just one, but probably the Strawberry Fields sequence with footage from the Vietnam war transposed onto Jude’s (Jim Sturgess) distraught face. That has me reaching for Kleenex.
Ok, so there you have it. I know I cheated, a little. In short, individual scenes in films are for more likely to make a lasting impression on me than scenes in a book. The book I have to love in its entirety. A film I can love for just one scene. I guess I’m setting the bar higher for literature.
So, which scenes from books or films have given you thrills and chills?