You’re a director. You have a vision. It’s a final fight scene. A first kiss. A monster’s revelation. Yet, your vision seems incomplete… something is missing and you can’t put your finger on it. Then it hits you, something so simple, so obvious, you can’t believe it took you so long to think it up. Rain. That’s how you make almost any scene exponentially cooler and one to remember. Myself, I’ve always been a fan of the effective usage of rain during a scene, specifically a scene that includes fighting. I’m not sure what it is, but I think it’s the way I’m wired – the same way that watching a football game during a torrential downpour is just so much more fun.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at memorable rain-soaked scenes throughout the years in cinema.
Perhaps the most famous and iconic scene in cinema involving rain, there’s no better way to start the list off. Here we have Gene Kelly (who reportedly had a 103 degree fever when filming this scene), tapping his way through the street, splashing in puddles, the happiest man alive, a man in love. Because a man in love should always dance in the rain.
“Just standin’ in the rain, talking to myself,” Luke Jackson says after calling out to a God he’s not sure he believes in, hoping for an answer, even a sign. This is one of my favorite scenes of all-time and how effective would it have been without Luke standing unaffected by the rain, while every single other inmate and guard ran for cover? It gives us one of the largest glimpses into Luke’s complicated mind.
But if any scene can give the one from Cool Hand Luke a run for it’s money, it’s the ending of Blade Runner. After being chased through an abandoned building by the more than a little angry replicant Roy Batty, Rick Deckard finds himself on the roof in the pouring rain, running for his life from what he himself had been chasing the entire film. Rutger Hauer gives a speech that on paper probably sounded ridiculous, and maybe from a lesser actor’s mouth it would have came off as such, but the way he delivers the lines and the emotion plastered on his face, it makes for one of the most memorable movie endings of all-time.
Here we have one of my favorite films of the decade, the vastly underappreciated mob movie starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman, who at almost 80 during the filming showed why he is still perhaps the greatest actor that ever graced the screen (the delivery of his line in here… heart-wrenching!). The cinematography and direction of the scene is beautifully done, the rain almost becoming another character in the scene – and once again, try to picture the scene over without the pitter-pattering of the rain on the ground and their hats and you’ll get the picture.
While oozing with cliches and a completely by-the-books and unbelievable script, I enjoyed the hell out of The Last Samurai (like I enjoy most of Edward Zwick’s melodramatic, sappy period pieces), and one of the scenes that has stuck in my head over the past few years was when Tom Cruise’s character Captain Nathan Algren goes all Cool Hand Luke and refuses to stay down during a wooden sword fight with one of the spiteful Japanese samurai where he is obviously outmatched. Some great imagery here.
Outside of the sleek visuals and cinematography, The Brotherhood of the Wolf is a pretty forgettable movie. This scene has never left my mind though. You can tell that when they imagined this scene, the filmmakers were on the same page as me. They knew how cool rain would look during a fight scene and here they showcase it. They’re not trying to hide the fact either.
You’re going to have to excuse the awful edit of the video below, where some schmuck thought it’d be a good idea to add in music by The Doors and MC Hammer (there is no music during this scene in the actual movie, which worked WONDERFULLY – but hey, this is the only video of it I could find, so we’ll work with it).
Maybe the most ridiculous, over-the-top fight scene ever, the rain was simply thrown in here because the Wachowski bros knew how cool fighting in the rain was. I’m pretty sure they thought up this fight scene back when they were in junior high school.
After over two hours of seeing Andy Dufresne sent to prison, unfairly treated, beaten, raped, starved, and what have you, could there have been a more satisfying ending than this, as the rain washes away the past twenty-some years of his life (not to mention all that fecal matter). Hope triumphs.
One cannot possibly have a complete list of great rain scenes without the ending of Point Break thrown in the mix.
And how much more frightening was the iconic T-Rex scene in Jurassic Park because of the torrential downpour? Before the T-Rex ever appears, the rain through the darkness sets an eerie tone. The scene is mostly quiet until the dinosaurs appearance, all except from some dialogue and of course, the pattering of the rain, which quickly assists in building the tension.
If rain can make fighting look so much cooler, everybody knows that it doesn’t get any more romantic than kissing in the pouring rain. Every girl dreams of a guy sweeping her off her feet only to have the fury of the rain gods leashed upon the two as he lays his lips on her. Every single girl wants this. It’s just science.
Another kissing in the rain scene. Although I get the feeling that this rain was a little cold. Who can forget this scene from Spider-Man that had all the kiddies excited?
Just another romance in the rain example… this time ponchos included.
Of course, the very end of Magnolia has one of the most memorable rain scenes of all time. I’ll leave it at that, but I warn you, if you haven’t watched the movie, you should probably skip this and go rent it so you don’t ruin anything!
Naturally, there are many more. Akira Kurosawa truly understood the power of rain in film and used in effectively in almost all of his films such as Seven Samurai and Rashomon (unfortunately finding clips of them online seems next to impossible). Other clips from 28 Days Later, Casablanca, Platoon, Miller’s Crossing, Backwoods, Open Range and so on could have all been included, but again, I only added ones I could find accompanying video for.
But now it’s your turn. What scenes did I miss?