Least Favorite Scenes

by

Scott McGrew

I don’t get out to movies very often – I have two small children and if I have any time to spend with my wife, I don’t know that I want to spend it not looking at her. So don’t laugh when I say I just now saw The Pursuit of Happyness.

If you haven’t seen it – and who besides me hasn’t seen it by now – you know it’s the more or less true story of a fellow who lost his wife, job and home and was left on the street trying to care for his small boy. While living on the street, he landed an internship at a stock brokerage and eventually was able to become a successful stockbroker.

I found the movie uncomfortable to watch and thus I can’t really say I enjoyed it. A father not being able to provide for his children is a scary theme when you’re a dad. The film was to me what Snakes on a Plane would be to someone who has a phobia of reptiles.

So my wife and I got to talking about scenes in movies that are so “real” they make us uncomfortable.. and I was able to come up with three.

Titanic
If you haven’t seen this movie since it came out in 1997, you may have forgotten just how graphic it is as the ship sinks (sorry to ruin the ending). There’s a scene where the boat has just minutes to stay afloat and a young Irish woman who has been trapped in third class below decks tucks her children into their beds and begins to read them a story, fully aware that she and her babies are about to die. Makes me mist up just typing that. Watching hundreds of people die is just a movie. Watching that young woman prepare to die actually makes you grieve for the victims of that disaster.

Saving Private Ryan
I’m actually okay with the ultra-violent first 30 minutes. Spielberg needed to show how awful the D-Day landings were and he accomplished it. However, there’s a scene about 2/3rds through the movie when one of the soldiers fights with a German soldier over a knife. The German is able to get on top of the American and slowly stabs him in the heart while gently whispering in his ear. Unlike the fighting on Omaha Beach, this is very close combat and to me is the most violent moment of the film.

The Abyss
This is a James Cameron (interestingly, he also did Titanic) science fiction film from some years ago where a husband/wife pair named Bud and Lindsey – played by Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio – are trapped in a small submarine. (You can find the script here.) Bud is wearing some sort of life support suit, Lindsey is not. The submarine is taking on water, and it becomes quickly apparent that one of them will drown. The decision is made that it makes the most sense for Bud to continue to wear the suit (though not without a lot of argument from him) and then, once Lindsey drowns, he will drag her across the ocean floor to an undersea habitat where, hopefully, she can be revived.

LINDSEY
Listen… will you listen to me for a second!?
You’re for the suit on and you’re a better
swimmer than me. Right? So I got a plan…

BUD
What’s the plan?

LINDSEY
I drown, you tow me back to the rig–

BUD
WHAT KIND OF PLAN IS THAT!??

Bud then watches his wife drown right in front of him. And we watch too.

Now, I’m no prude – I like violence as much as the next guy. I have never caught a whiff of it, but I’m sure I would be fond of napalm, particularly around breakfast time. In fact, in the above three cases, the violence is really quite understated. It’s not cars exploding or buildings coming down, and in the case of the young Irish mother, it’s not violent at all. It’s excellent story telling. In my case, a little too real to watch.

What are your least favorite movie scenes? Let me know. Click on the comment link below.

Scott McGrew
NBC11 Business & Tech Reporter

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