Continuing the idea of looking at small moments in big movies, it’s worth noting that the bigger the movie, the more important the smaller moments. In general, big budget action movies don’t have a lot of time to spare for character development, so it makes it imperative that those moments work well. Because the better they work, the better the movie ends up being.
When I first saw Die Hard, this was the moment that made it a classic, watch over and over again movie for me.
This was at a time when bulky action heroes could take anything thrown at them with nary a scratch. The clever move was not seeing how John McClane escapes from the glass tornado, and I think had this scene shown up in Die Hard 6, that’s what we would have focused on – him running across the glass, and not seeing the consequences. That this bathroom scene also leads in to the moment when John finally lets go and realises he’s going to die is important too.
I wonder if these small moments in big movies are becoming more rare nowadays. I can’t really think of any from the Marvel films. My most recent example is from The Force Awakens, as Rey repairs the Falcon, and it’s telling that JJ Abrams used the downtime in filming when Harrison Ford broke his leg to really work on that moment. It makes a huge difference to the whole movie.
Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves is riddled with small moments, and it’s no coincidence that Alan Rickman has most of them. Our hero is only as interesting as our villain, remember.
In Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, there’s a couple of small moments within small moments.
Watch how Kirk struggles to read the book from Spock, and his reaction to the glasses from Bones. Even better, we get the pay off at a high tension point later on.
Write those small moments. They make the big moments even better.