Undefended: The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Patience is a difficult virtue to convey in film. Films have to be intriguing, progressive, suggestive, so patience and waiting don’t always make for riveting viewing. Nonetheless, in a world which moves as fast as ours, patience is essential to living a happy life. As we find ourselves in the middle of Lent, in a season of anticipation and patience and vexing slowness, describe five scenes from films which depict patience in a captivating manner.

Timothy Lawrence:

  1. The candle scene (Nostalghia)
  2. Buildup to the assassination (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford)
  3. Scottie waits for Julie in the apartment (Vertigo)
  4. The final shootout in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  5. The opening sequence of Once Upon A Time In The West

Remy Wilkins:

  1. Happy-Go-Lucky: Poppy enduring her driving instructor’s enraged En-Ra-Ha’s passes through his rants and criticisms to uncover his wound and offers him her sympathy.
  2. The Master: Lancaster Dodd as he suffers the animal outbreaks of Freddie Quill in their first conversation seeks to domesticate his unruly behavior, but is himself slowly unraveled.
  3. Junebug: Johnny is a bad husband, but is guilt ridden over it. He attempts to make a gesture of love to his wife, recording a program she’ll love, but is unable to figure out the VCR. He flies into a rage. When Ashley arrives to help him, her baby shower upstairs disturbed by his antics, it is too late. She gently chides her husband saying, “God loves you just the way you are, but he loves you too much to let you stay that way.”
  4. The Science of Sleep: Stéphane is crude, cruel and puerile in his sloppy wooing of Stéphanie, but while she is firm in rejecting his romantic advancements she is persistent in her friendship.
  5. Nebraska: David Grant hides allowing his father to be seen behind the wheel of a new truck as they drive through his hometown.

James Banks:

  1. Opening scene at the motel in “A History of Violence”
  2. Waiting for the coup de grace of Cookie’s dog in “Of Mice and Men”
  3. Breakfast scene in “Big Night”
  4. Act I of “Jurassic Park” (up until the dinosaurs break out)
  5. The long-take at the beginning of “Touch of Evil” until the bomb goes off.

Joshua Gibbs:

  1. The long, meandering second and third acts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I. Hermione and Harry simply wander around the countryside, listening to the radio, dancing, pondering how to open the horcrux. This kind of patient, anxious deliberation is simply part of the academic life, though few films dwell on it.
  2. Night of the Hunter: Rachel Cooper waits all night on her porch to shoot Rev. Harry Powell. Lillian Gish’s face is so full of resolve and wrath, I could believe she’d wait there a thousand years to shoot the fellow.
  3. In the Mood for Love: Chow and Su fall in love with one another, yet are faithful to their unfaithful spouses.
  4. The Wages of Fear is a 130 minute long meditation on the benefits of patience, and a 30 second meditation on the drawbacks of impatience.
  5. A.I.: David becomes real waiting for the Blue Fairy to become real.

Sean Johnson:

  1. Every scene in Into Great Silence—participation in the film’s silence and excruciatingly long shots is itself a lesson in patience.
  2. A.I.: David’s “long day” in the amphibicopter
  3. Toy Story 2: old man making meticulous repairs to Woody
  4. No Country For Old Men: Chigur’s interview with Woody Harrelson’s character
  5. The Hollow Crown; I Henry IV: Harry’s “herein will I imitate the sun” is depicted as an internal monologue, punctuating the years-long program Harry has laid out for himself and now patiently pursues in the face of ignominy and distain from his father and others.

Nate Douglas:

  1. Ivan Locke’s drive to London—Locke
  2. The Trans-Atlantic Flight—The Spirit of St. Louis
  3. Prince Albert waits in Belgium to leave for England—The Young Victoria
  4. Sheriff John T. Chance holds-up to hold-off the Burdettes—Rio Bravo
  5. Jonesy in the USS Dallas listens for the Red October —The Hunt for Red October

TV Series Bonus: The Fly *episode in *Breaking Bad and Don and Peggy write copy for Burger Chef in Mad Men.

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.

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