10. The Wind Rises (2013)- Running to Naoko
The Wind Rises is one of my favorite Hayao Miyazaki films. I won’t say too much about it since I’ve reviewed and analyzed it to death. I couldn’t decide which part of the movie I loved the best until I went back over my review from 2014.
There is one scene in particular that stuck out to me. After the main character, Jiro receives word from his work supervisor that Naoko has had a lung hemorrhage, Jiro fled onto the earliest train possible to reach her. Fighting tears, he rushed to her side, and when he saw her through her bedroom door, he cut through the gardens, kicked off his shoes in a frenzy, and tenderly embraced her. This moment, caring and awe-inspiring, illustrated his utmost devotion to her, no matter the time or sacrifice.
Every time I see this scene, I think to myself, “He really does love her, doesn’t he?”
9. Tarzan (1999)- Tarzan fights Sabor
I fought long and hard before I finally decided on this clip from Tarzan. I LOVE THIS MOVIE and could name any number of scenes as my personal favorites. But I limited myself one scene per movie for this list. So here we are!
When Tarzan fights Sabor, the backgrounds and action feel so big. More than any action film I’ve seen for Tarzan, this fight feels the most alive. I love the realistic character animation for Sabor, the painstaking work it took to animate Tarzan’s physical anatomy, and the beautiful jungle backgrounds incorporated into the 2D animation using Deep Canvas technology.
8. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)- Hellfire, Saving Quasimodo
I’m a sucker for Romantic symbolism and art techniques so its no surprise these diametrically opposite scenes, together, made it onto this list. Stephen Rebello, who worked on The Hunchback of Notre Dame, once noted:
Hugo plays out a literary conceit of visual, aural, and moral contrasts and opposites: . . . light played against dark, appearance versus reality, good against evil, piety opposed to true faith, outward beauty contrasted with ugliness of the soul.Stephen Rebello, The Art of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), pg 22
The animation during “Heaven’s Light” and “Hellfire” is undoubtedly the film’s highlight. It showed the ultimate contrast between a man who fell in love and a monster born from lustful desires. What had started as a beautiful psalm born from love turned into a wicked cry to appease lustful intentions. Overshadowed by darkness, Frollo stood before his newborn desire, intervened by different excerpts from the same said Confiteor prayer. The whole song brilliantly portrayed his fall into temptation and his inability to truly recognize his folly and take the blame for his actions.
I could gush about these scenes for hours. suffice it to say, my German soul deeply loves this brilliant display of cinematic poetry!
7. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)- Walk On Air
My sixteen-year-old self would be very happy this romantic scene from Howl’s Moving castle made it onto this list. I do like this clip’s romantic feel, however, what I now admire is how Hayao Miyazaki breathed life and atmosphere into less than two minutes of film. I love the colors, the build-up of tension as Howl and Sophie flee the Witch of the Waste’s servants, and the beautiful shot of Howl and Sophie walking through the air. All in all, this scene has a beautiful push and pull between the moments of tension and relaxation.
6. The Song of the Sea (2014)- Sirsha’s Song
Every time I watch this scene, I want to breathe it in. It has a hauntingly beautiful feeling about it. It also has a way of both relieving tension and gently walking its characters to the rest and love they needed. The music gives me goosebumps, and it makes me want to understand my Irish heritage better. (I am a proud member of the O’Connor and Kelly families of Ireland!)
5. Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse (2018)- What’s Up Danger
This movie is absolutely fascinating to study because of how multilayered its themes, animation, and characters are. What could I say about this wonderful scene that critics and fans haven’t said before? Though it isn’t the movie’s climactic battle, I do think it is Milo’s moment of truth. I always get swept up in this scene’s electric energy. It’s hard not to with its heart-pumping music, gorgeous animation shots, and impeccable timing!
4. Coco (2018)- Remember Me to Grandma Coco
Coco makes me think of my family, dead and alive. Whenever I watch it, I think of someone new who I need to get to know more personally. That is why it is such a powerful movie. We should not forget our family. It’s important to keep these ties between multiple generations strong.
Now, I chose this scene because it has personal meaning for me. Several years ago, I came to New York to visit my Grandma Engler. I had not seen her since I was twelve. She suffered from dementia, so she couldn’t move about by herself or speak. I stayed with her and my aunt’s family for a week and promised I would come to visit her again. It was the last time I saw her because she died a few months later.
I saw Coco weeks after I went to see my Grandmother. Grandma Coco reminded me of my grandmother and the short amount of time I had to be with her. Watching this scene is like saying, “I love you.” to her.
3. The Prince of Egypt (1998)- Deliver Us
I’ve always loved The Prince of Egypt for its mature soundtrack, engaging story, and beautiful animation. I remember seeing it for the first time when I was seven years old. I didn’t appreciate its intricate backgrounds or heavy subject matter. However, I connected with the Israelites’ suffering and instinctively knew what the Egyptians did to them was wrong. Now, when I heard the trumpet quietly playing amidst beautiful clouds, I feel its story naturally drawing me in. Truly, “Deliver Us” is how you introduce an epic story.
What else can I say? This is a beautifully rendered and powerful testimony of mature animation and storytelling.
2. The Lion King (1994)- Remember Who You Are
I often think about this scene and what it means for me. This movie, generally, has meant a lot to me since I was a young girl. (My mother says I watched this movie at least three times every day.) I love several things about this clip.
1. It’s a call for Simba to step up and remember who he is. Mufasa doesn’t excuse Simba’s slothful behavior, nor does he forever condemn him for it.
2. Mufasa does not call Simba to avenge his death at Scar’s hands. Hamlet’s downfall came in part because his father appeared to him and instructed him to enact revenge. Mufasa’s primary reason for visiting was to help his son.
3. This scene helped me understand death isn’t the end. It gave deeper meaning to mufasa’s previous words concerning their ancestors. “Look at the stars. The great kings of the past, look down on us from those stars. So whenever you feel alone, just remember that those kings will always be there to guide you. And so will I.”
1. Beauty and the Beast (1990)- Transformation
I have a special love for stories where people have spiritual transforms manifested through physical transformations. Art is a powerful thing, which leaves impressions on us. It is because artists implant a part of themselves into their work. Or, more specifically, a part of their souls. That is what I feel every time I see this scene, both from the original movie and through Glen Keane’s raw pencil tests.
Glen Keane hand drew this scene himself and put his heart and soul into it. He placed the quote “If any man is in Christ he’s a new creation” on one of his palettes as an inspirational token to remind himself Beast’s change would not only be physical but spiritual. Viewers can see, through intricately detailed character animation, Beast’s spiritual transformation made manifest through gorgeous art. This scene pulls me in with its beauty and energy, and I find more to admire about it from every viewing. It is a brilliant masterpiece of hand drawn animation, within an equally enthralling artistic achievement!
Thank you for reading! Hope you have enjoyed reading this. My greatest wish though, is that you were able to find something new to watch and enjoy! Happy days to you!