Blade Runner

Weekend Roundtable: Rain Rain Go Away

Bad weather has been a serious problem in some parts of our country recently, to put it mildly. My own mother had quite a scare with Hurricane Irma this week. (She came out unscathed, fortunately.) This put us in mind of famous movie scenes involving rain, both in positive and negative contexts.

Tom Landy

One of my all-time favorite movies is Frank Darabont’s ‘The Shawshank Redemption‘, based on a novella by Stephen King. One of the scenes that always sticks in my mind is the end of Andy Dufresne’s triumphant escape from prison. We’ve been rooting for this guy the whole time and when he finally exits his hellish nightmare, the rain storm almost serves as a heavenly cleansing for his poor soul, washing away the decades of shit he had to endure. It’s such a great moment in a wonderful film.

Shannon Nutt

I’ll be shocked if at least one of my Roundtable colleagues doesn’t match me this week, but my favorite movie scene involving rainy weather is the famous clock tower sequence from the end of ‘Back to the Future‘, which was such a fun, perfectly edited climax that the creators reimagined it from a different perspective for ‘Back to the Future Part II’.

Luke Hickman

While I love the use of unbelievably heavy movie rain to set a strong tone in movies, my pick for this Roundtable is one that takes the usage of rain one step farther.

I’m a big fan of J.K. Rowling’s cinematic universe. ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them‘ is a great addition to the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise. The movie actually expands the universe by introducing a different tone and feel. Part of that is due to the new characters and character dynamics. Bringing a giant heart to the spinoff is the addition of a no-maj (non-magical, i.e. “muggle”) character. Dan Fogler introduces us to the lovable aspiring baker Jacob Kowalski. Being along for the entire adventure, we get to see the wizarding world through the same eyes that he would. The bonds that are made between him and the other characters are tender and sweet, but because of what he’s seen, he has to [SPOILER ALERT] have his memory wiped when the tale comes to a close. The cerebral whiteout is accomplished with magical rain that will remove all memory of the magic. The acting, music and writing of this scene elevate it, making it one of my all-time favorite rainy sequences.

M. Enois Duarte

Rain, or water in general, is customarily used as a metaphor for cleansing, rebirth or starting anew. However, in the world of Stephen King, the usual tropes don’t always play according to tradition. In his magnum opus ‘It‘, rain and water seem to function as cleansing and revelation but with sinister, twisted caveats. One of my favorite scenes with rain is the unfortunate death of Georgie. In a story about children struggling with traumatic horrors, rain introduces the otherworldly killer clown to both the audience and an ill-prepared child. The poor kid has his eyes opened to the real world crawling with monsters, and his poor judgment of the nerve-wracking situation leads to his untimely end. In the 1990 TV miniseries, this was done pretty well, mostly due to Tim Curry’s memorable performance, but the new film adaptation is more faithful to the book and far more violent. As much as I love Curry, the latest retelling of that rainy scene is much creepier considering the gross, apprehensive undertones of seeing a grown man in a clown suit seduce an innocent child with false promises.

Brian Hoss

Focusing on some enjoyable scenes of rain, it was pointed out to me recently that the opening and ending scenes of the original ‘Point Break‘ have a fun symmetry with the characters, and of course the rain. The rainy (overly serious) gun range scene is intercut with surfing scenes. Thinking over it, it does make for a nice bookend for the eventual “50 year storm” scene.

Josh Zyber

The constant downpour of rain in ‘Blade Runner‘ is so pervasive that it’s practically a character in the film. It seeps into every corner of the frame, setting a gloomy atmosphere of hopelessness and decay.

After more than three hours of setup, Akira Kurosawa’s masterwork ‘Seven Samurai‘ climaxes with a stunning battle in the rain and mud.

On a lighter note, Gene Kelly sure has some fun ‘Singin’ in the Rain‘.

I also need to toss an honorable mention to ‘John Wick‘, solely because the Blu-ray’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack puts the height speakers in my home theater to good use during the final rainy fight scene.

Which memorable movie rain scenes stand out to you? Tell us in the Comments.

15 comments

  1. Csm101

    Pacific Rim is immersed in rain from beginning to end. It definitely adds a little visual pizzazz to the combat scenes. It looks gorgeous in 3d. Jurassic Park is another memorable one as I remember my first pro-logic desktop stereo (my gateway drug to home theater) and how the pitter patter of the rain during the t-rex attack would play out of the cheapo surround speakers supplied with the stereo.
    Spider-Man’s upside down kiss in the rain with MaryJane is also a fav of mine.
    Legend of Tarzan also has some great rain scenes which are greatly enhanced with Atmos.

  2. EM

    The rainstorm, seemingly borne out of a storm of emotion and confusion, that leads Janet Leigh’s Marion Crane away from the main highway and to the fateful Bates Motel in Psycho (original, of course).

  3. In YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, digging in the graveyard: “Could be worse. Could be raining.” Cue thunder, downpour.

    So now we yell the line whenever the rain begins in a film. Theoden at Helm’s Deep looks up with obviously those words in mind.

  4. photogdave

    Rain is used very effectively in Road to Perdition and photographed very beautifully by the late Conrad Hall.
    My favourite movie with rain though is The Wonder Boys. Every time it’s really pissing out I just feel the urge to sit around in my bathrobe and space out to that movie. The rain is grey, ugly and smothering, effectively portraying the main characters’ states of mind. One of Michael Douglas’ best!

  5. Scott David

    Almost the entirety of the movie Hard Rain. The T-Rex escaping his paddock and attacking the kids in Jurassic Park made an impression on 10 year old me back in 93, as we had a Chevy Blazer SUV, and any time there was a thunder storm, I’d imagine the T-Rex was going to come around and attack. Mr. Zyber’s honorable mention for the end fight in John Wick got me thinking of another Keanu Reeves rain fight in the last Matrix movie. Though Revolutions isn’t a great movie, it did feature the amazing fight in the rain between Neo and Agent Smith. The sound design of the fight, the slow motion of the rain drops splattering and pitter pattering off both actors as they punch, kick and throw each other around, and the visuals of the lightning striking around them makes it one of the coolest fights in the trilogy.

  6. Weird: in ‘Back to the Future’ (the first movie), it never rains during the clocktower scene. Just a lot of wind, and, of course, lightning. In ‘Part II’, the rain starts pouring after Doc disappears to 1885, which is a scene set JUST prior (and during) the clocktower scene. So, either a continuity error, or just a very local rainstorm in ‘Part II’ (granted, the scene takes place in Lyon Estates, which is 2 miles from the town center).

  7. Most of mine have already been mentioned, but…

    Mary Poppins – a major transitional moment in the movie

    Return to Oz – the flood carries Dorthy back to Oz

    Star Trek 4 – although I think it is supposed to be a vaporization of the oceans, most of the scenes are shot with rain coming down, not moister going up.

    Dune – not sure if it was the movie or the miniseries (or both), but the story ends with it raining for the firs time

    Noah / The Bible: In The Beginning – the first rain

    The Sound of Music – Raindrop on roses and whiskers on kittens.

    Poltergeist – 1 one-thousand, 2 one-thousand…

Leave a Reply to William Henley Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *