Undefended: Top Five Cinematic Acts Of Violence.

Undefended is posted every Friday. All FilmFisher writers are given a prompt and respond with a list of five items, none of which are explained or rationalized. This week…

Movies today are too violent. Violence is glorified and glamorized, excused and pursued. And yet, not every cinematic act of violence aims to titillate the audience, or revel in the spectacle of the human body deformed, gratifying perverse desires for vengeance. This week, name the five most meaningful, most excellent cinematic acts of violence.


Timothy Lawrence:

1. The baptism montage in “The Godfather”

2. Reverend Powell murders Willa in “Night of the Hunter”

3. The murder plot in “Vertigo”

4. The final duel in “Once Upon A Time In The West”

5. The assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”


Joshua Gibbs:

1. Steak n Fries initiation in “City of God.”

2. Father Gabriel’s procession death in “The Mission.”

3. First Class Troy Barlow (Mark Wahlberg) gets a bullet in his guts in “Three Kings.”

4. Robert Angier drowns in “The Prestige.”

5. Barry Egan destroys a bathroom in “Punch-Drunk Love.”


Joseph Gross:

1. The saloon shoot-out in “Unforgiven.”

2. The crucifixion of Jesus in “The Passion of the Christ.”

3. Kane hitting Susan in “Citizen Kane.”

4. “Is it safe?” torture scene from “Marathon Man.”

5. The “Put on the glasses” fight in “They Live.”


Remy Wilkins:

1. The Baptism of Daniel Plainview, “There Will Be Blood”

2. Anton Chigurh’s car wreck at the end of “No Country for Old Men”

3. All of the Parts Ryan Stone is Falling “Gravity”

4. The Wild Rumpus, “Where the Wild Things Are”

5. Jake LaMotta punching the walls of his cell, “Raging Bull”


James Banks

1. The “Deserve’s got nuthin’ to do with it” scene in “Unforgiven”

2. Fatal car accident in “The Lives of Others”

3. Final showdown between Vincent (Tom Cruise) and Max (Jamie Foxx) in “Collateral”

4. The Vietcong sniper finale in “Full Metal Jacket”

5. Knife fight that concludes the movie “Drive”


Thomas Banks

1.Ralph Fiennes shoots a Jewish boy after pardoning him in “Schindler’s List.”

2.Michael Corleone guns down the two guys in the Jersey diner in “Godfather I.”

3.Will Smith kills infected dog in “I Am Legend.”

4.Montgomery Clift kills wife in “A Place in the Sun.”

5.Death of Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather.”


Brian Murnion

1. Last ten minutes of “Amour”

2. Bathtub scene in “Diabolique”

3. Slicing of the eyeball in “Un Chien Andalou”

4. River boat scene in “The Night of the Hunter”

5. The family practicing their screaming while eating dinner outside in “The Vanishing”


Sean Johnson

1. Gollum bites the Ring from Frodo’s hand; “The Return of the King”

2. Daniel Plainview’s baptism; “There Will Be Blood”

3. Sewer crawl; “Shawshank Redemption”

4. Orchestration of Pile’s death; “The Quiet American” (2002)

5. The Tramp subjected to the automatic feeder; “Modern Times”


Christian Leithart

1. David Dunn kills the rapist in “Unbreakable”

2. Waring Hudsucker jumps 44 floors in “The Hudsucker Proxy”

3. Darth Vader kills the Emperor in “The Return of the Jedi”

4. Ives’ final escape attempt in “The Great Escape”

5. George McFly punches Biff in “Back to the Future”

Joshua Gibbs

Joshua Gibbs teaches great books, collects records and jogs to work. He and his wife have two children, both of whom have seven names. He tweets at @joshgibbs and blogs for the CiRCE Institute.

6 Responses to Undefended: Top Five Cinematic Acts Of Violence.

  1. I’d also suggest the moment in “Up” when Carl hits a construction worker on the head and it draws blood. This really stood out to me because it was so atypical of violence in animation. It was a small act of violence, not a big explosion or some exaggerated clobbering as you might see in “The Incredibles”, and the reaction and fallout were operated on a real world logic. The construction worker’s feelings were hurt as well as his head, and you could see Carl was startled and saddened at his outburst, the consequences of which put the whole movie in motion.

  2. 1. The “Jaws” opening scene in No Country For Old Men
    (as well as the opening scene in Jaws, for that matter)
    2. H.I. pulls the grenade pin in Raising Arizona
    (as well as H.I. slugging Glen for his “swinging suggestion”)
    3. The car chase scene in Children of Men
    4. The chest bursting scene in Alien
    5. The fight scene in Punch Drunk Love
    (and the ensuing non-fight scene with Mattress Man)

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