February 10, 2012


I was just out running, which is typically where I do my best thinking.  I was mostly spacing out this morning, though, listening to some good tunes and trying to stay warm, when I saw it: across the street from me, a neighborhood lawn was swarmed by at least a hundred small, black birds.

My heart rate quickened; I sped up. I needed to get away from those birds. 

It's all Alfred Hitchcock's fault, you know.  I don't have the best relationship with birds in general (it's a valid phobia, I swear), and I've never actually seen his classic The Birds because I know exactly how much it will terrify me, but I've seen the footage. The movie posters. Those birds, attacking, killing.  I shudder, even now, just picturing it.

But it got me thinking.  How amazing, right? Hitchcock created this iconic movie, this iconic scene in a movie, that has terrified generations!  That's all anyone who creates wants to do: create something that will stick with people, that will move them.

I know that's what I want to do.

But in the spirit of images that move us, I thought I'd share some cinematic, literary and (gasp!) television moments that have stuck with me for life.  What are yours?


To Kill a Mockingbird (novel): There are two scenes here that get me.  First is the scene in which Tim Johnson, the rabid dog, makes his way down the silent, closed up February street, and Atticus readies to shoot him.  I can hear the silence, if that makes sense. I can feel Scout's heart racing. I can see Jem's confused admiration.  There's also the moment where Atticus stares down a mob of good ole boys coming to lynch Tom Robinson at the town jail.  Here, I can feel the velvet-soft night of a Southern summer. I can smell the liquor on the mob's collective breath.  I can feel the tension, and then feel it break when Scout accidentally shames the men by making small talk.  

It (TV movie): This one's all terror.  The scene in which Tim Curry's Pennywise the Clown first goes from normal(ish) clown to evil creature with razor sharp teeth, terrifying Eddie Casprack. I never looked at clowns without fear again.

The Wizard of Oz (movie): The scene in which Dorothy first steps out of her sepia-toned house into the colorful Land of Oz.  Can't you picture it now? And can't you smell the flowers and hear the munchkins giggle? You know you can.

The Wonder Years (TV): For me, The Wonder Years has always been about that final scene in its pilot episode where Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper share a timid first kiss.  I can feel Winnie's anguish - she's just found out her brother was killed in Vietnam. I can feel her need to feel something other than that anguish.  I can feel the cool autumn night air.

That was just to name a few.   Again, I ask...what are yours?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Don't laugh at me. Kenny McLaughlin standing on the landing in between floors of his parents' ranch house, gazing intently at a picture on the wall there, and getting lost in it. (My Friend Flicka - novel) Same book - Kenny running out to his horse after saving her from a serious infection and nearly losing his own life doing so.

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