Are there movies with moments that surprised you and took your breath away?

I found myself watching The Wizard of Oz with my four year old daughter the other evening. As we enjoyed this classic it occurred to me that this 76 year old movie has entertained countless people for four generations. I was also reminded of a story my grandmother told me as a child.


The Wizard of Oz

Grandma saw The Wizard of Oz as a young child in 1939 at the movie theater. After Dorothy’s house touches down in Oz and the door opens the film changes from sepia tone to beautiful Technicolor. Grandma said the entire audience gasped. And she, of course, remembered this moment for the rest of her life.


Star Wars: A New Hope

Star Wars: A New Hope

Another movie memory conveyed to me was from my mother. Watching Star Wars: A New Hope with her when I was a young child, she told me how amazing it was to see Star Wars for the first time in 1977 at the movie theater. I remember her saying that she had never seen special effects like that before and it was truly the most amazing movie experience.


Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park

My own gasp moment came at 12 years old. I clearly remember watching Jurassic Park in the movie theater. When the brachiosaurus herd stepped out into the field I literally had butterflies in my stomach. I had never seen special effects like that! What an incredible cinematic event!


Avengers: Age of Ultron

At the beginning of the summer, my husband and I saw Avengers: Age of Ultron in the movie theater. While watching the opening sequence, I was struck by the computer generated versions of the various superheroes. I was especially disappointed by the CG Thor (come on ladies….do we really need a CG Thor? The real one is just fine for me…). I ┬áhave also recently realized that big-effects movies, like Avengers, has set an unfortunate set of expectations when it comes to computer generated imagery.

Instead of computer generated images enhancing our movie experience, I believe it has brought us to a place of “meh” instead of “gasp.” Watching movies like The Avengers we have an expectation of large-scale special effects, many of which are quite forgettable. We see them all the time and are no longer really special.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not believe that every movie should have just a sprinkling of CGI, as the original Jurassic Park did. However I find that I am tired of watching movies that use computer generated imagery as a crutch instead of an enhancement.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Which, of course leads me to my excitement for the new Star Wars movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It has been widely publicized that the movie will involve far more practical effects than the recent installment of Star Wars. My own bias aside (the original Star Wars trilogy are officially my favorite movies), my hope is this will begin a new era of special effects in Hollywood.

Practical effects deliver a tangible quality that simply can not be achieved through computer generated images only. While the computer generated brachiosaurus herd was my own “gasp” movie moment, those vicious (animatronic) raptors in the kitchen still bring terror to my mind when I remember that scene. I don’t believe a CGI raptor would have been so memorable.

My hope is that there will be more “gasp” movie moments for my own daughter to remember. I hope that she will have a special cinematic experience to tell her own children.

So, what was your “gasp” moment at the movies?