47 Great Movie Moments #14 – Fearless

Continuing with this series of 47 moments in film that I love (Why 47?), today we hit #14, with another great–though lesser known–movie from 1993…

Fearless (1993)

Directed by:  Peter Weir

Max Klein survives a terrible disaster but undergoes a dramatic change in personality as a result…

The Set-up

You walk into the movie theatre, the lights go down, ominous music begins, and the movie begins…

The Moment

People are moving some foliage…is it corn?  The scene is smokey, or foggy.  It’s a man, leading a child, and carrying something…it’s a baby!  A man and a child and a baby, they look like they’re refugees, like their escaping from something.  The man is Jeff Bridges, and they’re not alone, there are others.  They all look disheveled, brutalized.  Were they attacked?  Is it a war?  It’s definitely a corn field, and as they reach the edge with see workers staring at something…they’re in shock, and even down on their knees, crossing themselves.  Jeff Bridges’ character walks away from the field and the camera pans over to reveal what everyone is looking at…the broken-off tail section of a commercial airliner….

Emergency crews scramble to help this new group of survivors that have emerged from the field.  Bridges, playing Max Klein, hands over the boy (who is not a relative) to an emergency worker, and then goes on to look for the baby’s mother.  He walks forward and we see the full scale of the devastation–the airplane is completely destroyed, fires  burning and smoldering pieces strewn throughout the field…

I had the advantage of seeing Fearless in the cinemas without any idea what the movie was about.  This meant this opening had me gripped and guessing the entire time.  But even if you’ve seen the film before (or the trailers), it’s an effectively constructed scene.  In less than two minutes, the movie manages to grab our attention, make us ask questions, and answer those questions in a way that makes us want to see what is happening next.  It’s a great opening

The Payoff

The question of this film isn’t who survives the plane crash and who doesn’t…we know that from the start.  The question is whether Max will ever truly “land”–come back to his life in a full and emotionally satisfying way.  It’s a fascinating psychological story.

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