Investigating the genius of cinema

May 08, 2022

We spoke to a handful of industry experts and asked them what seminal cinematic offering has inspired them the most and why. Here’s what some of them had to say.

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op culture is at the heart of cinema and there are many aspects to it. From the director, often seen as the commander of the ship who sees just how the larger narrative should unfold to music responsible for giving a linguistic beauty that connects to the film, undertaking a film is always a daunting task. It also has the power to leave a mark on people. No one knows this better than directors/musicians. But what inspires them?

If execution of a good film or a bad one falls on the head of a directors, musicians, actors and composers, irrespective of how terrific or terrible a script maybe, they’re also the biggest connoisseurs of cinema itself. So, we asked some of the brightest directors and/or musicians about the one scene from any piece of cinema which had the greatest impact on them, and why. This is what they had to say.

Kamal Khan

“In terms of scenes, the Alfred Hitchcock ‘Shower Scene’ (Psycho, 1960) is something that I remember watching and being in shock because of how they killed off the protagonist so early in the film. They introduced this protagonist and opened the film with her and you stay with her and suddenly so early in the film they kill her off. I saw it with my grandmother (which is really odd) when I was very young and I was scared. What stayed with me for a long time was this film killed what we call the ‘hero’ of the film off so early. It stayed with me for a long time and once I started studying filmmaking and started making films, I think that technique of shock value kind of stuck with me and not to stay I used it in any way, but the use of shock value stayed with me.”

“A more recent film is the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and the scene is where Miles jumps off the building. I don’t know why but that scene was so much fun. I’m a sucker for coming off age films and the genre and this film is more of a coming off age film than a superhero film. Just that moment where the catharsis Miles feels when he jumps and the juxtaposition with the music that comes in still gives me goosebumps when I watch it. I played it for my one-year-old daughter also and even though she doesn’t understand it, we enjoyed it together; I also played it for my nephew so there’s something that’s pure fun and a lot of emotion about the dive scene from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”

Jamshed ‘Jami’ Mehmood Raza

“The greatest scene, for me, is from a film called Seven Samurai. In this scene, a bunch of farmers wanted to hire a Samurai in return for their rice. He was a very proud Samurai so he kicks the rice away. The farmers weep and the scene goes on and at the end they pick every single grain of rice back and that scene completely changed my perception of farming as I realized how difficult it is to produce a single grain. What stuck to me since then was to never waste food and avoid gluttony. It hit me really hard.”

Bilal Maqsood

“I think I’ve seen Avengers: Endgame ‘avengers assemble’ scene at least 10 times on YouTube but I feel my most favourite scene would be from Taray Zameen Par where the kid (Ishaan) for the first time sees himself happy in a painting made by his teacher. The scene brilliantly shows how art can break barriers and convey ideas that are difficult to communicate otherwise. Plus, every time I see this scene it gives me a different kind of emotional high.”

Jamal Rahman

“The coin toss scene from No Country for Old Men comes to mind. The Coen Brothers are masters at building suspense and this is one of the most singularly terrifying scenes ever put to film.

In the scene, Anton Chigurh, played masterfully by Javier Bardem, faces off with a small-time shopkeeper at a gas station in the middle of the desert. What starts out as an innocuous question from the shopkeeper turns into a dangerous game in which his fate is beholden to the toss of a coin.

Chigurh is one of the best written villains in cinema history; a sociopath assassin who lives by a strict but twisted moral code, deciding the fates of his victims with a flippant coin toss.

The scene taught me the depth to which one can go when writing characters and their interactions within a story. When working on my own screenplay, I often refer back to it for its symbolism, its weighted subtext and its ability to draw upon an impending horror within the viewer’s mind. Suspense at its tightest!”

Hamza Jafri

“When I was 9-years-old my elder brother and I were dropped at the cinema to go see the new Disney movie. As we got to the ticket counter it sold out, and the only other option was Oliver Stone’s epic war drama ‘Platoon’. We had no idea what kind film it was, and the ticket sales person didn’t seem to care it had an R rating, and we were let in. As a 9-year-old kid sitting watching this deeply violent epic war movie I remember being in a state of shock/silence for many days afterwards, especially the helicopter scene with Willem Dafoe’s character’s last moments with his arms held up, that scene replayed itself in my head for many years. I think being exposed to visuals of the tragedy of war at a young age certainly influenced my art later in life.”

Zohaib Kazi

“It’s the Teserract scene from Interstellar (2014) where Cooper is communicating with Murph through the book shelf. I believe in a multidimensional universe and that scene showed the power of hope, promise and transcendence of love beyond our limitations.

In many moments in my real life relating to relationships and even death, this scene somehow gave me a scientific explanation. In all honesty, I’m not a superstitious person but there are many instances where things just don’t make sense. It’s bizarre. I can literally identify the patterns, the similarity between personal experience and universal programming. The parallels can be repetitive - it’s a pattern.”

-Zohaib Kazi photo by Insiya Syed

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