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12 January 2013

Perfect movie scenes and writing

When I am writing a book, one of the things I want most to create is a perfect moment. Do you know what I mean? They're not easy. It's a single-shot type thing with a good deal of buildup, but they're total head shots if you get them right.

Take Minority Report, for instance. That's a pretty good movie. Not a classic by any means. There are plenty of sci fi shows that are better, but Minority Report has a perfect moment. I would argue that a number of sci fi movies that are, on the whole better, don't have perfect moments. Perfect moments are rare.


For one, the damn movie has Max von Sydow in it. Beside the point, sure, but how cool is that?

The perfect moment in Minority Report comes towards the end when Anderton (Tom Cruise), is in the hotel room. It's the moment when he stumbles upon the supposed fact that the guy he is searching for is the same perp that kidnapped his son. There is more than just writing involved in this. The expression on Anderton's face says it all. He has spent the last hour of the movie declaring over and over that he is not a killer, that this particular vision of the "precogs" is wrong. The perfect moment is when he realizes with clarity that he will kill the guy when he walks through the door.

My wife will be excited I am including
a picture of Tommy in this post



I love those few seconds of story. It is such a powerful scene, so beautiful the way it is set up, and the acting so spot on. For me, the movie is worth seeing over and over again just for that lightning bolt moment. It brings tears to my eyes every time because it is so perfectly rendered. A moment of undiluted emotion.

A novel needs a lot of things to be good, but if at least one of these moments doesn't naturally occur in my story, I feel like I have failed. At least, I'm pretty sure I would feel that way. Hasn't happened yet.