Warning! This list contains spoilers! Proceed at your own risk!
Characters jump or fall off of high structures, airborne vehicles, and elevated topography all of the time. If you are watching an action movie, chances are there will be a sequence where a character falls for some amount of time. In thrillers or dramas, a fall can be a method of escape, or sadly, a method of suicide. Most commonly, a fall is a script writer’s tool to kill off a character, good or evil.
Below I have compiled a list of my favorite/most memorable falling scenes in film. Some of these have become iconic moments in cinema. Others are important to the plots of the biggest franchises. All of them are memorable due to either the dramatic impact, or the creativity utilized by the filmmakers to bring them to the big screen. I’m sure I missed some good ones, but these were the sequences that first came to mind when I thought about falling scenes in film that had an impact on myself.
Do you agree with my ranking? What memorable falls are missing from this list? Join along in the conversation on twitter: @cinelinx, @gsperno
25. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – Dumbledore’s Fall
Our first entry on this list is a bit of a downer, and actually, that’s what makes it so memorable. As you will see in this list, movies like to kill people by having them fall great distances. Most of the time, falling scenes end with the death of a villain, but in this case, it’s the death of a beloved protagonist. It’s even more sad because it is essentially a move of self-sacrifice. It is also an important step in Harry Potter’s growth, essentially representing the moment he is no longer a child.
24. Superman – Saving Lois Lane
From a sad falling scene, we go next to a happy one. Superman swooping in to save the day is almost a cliche these days. We’ve seen it in at least three films. I chose the original Superman the Movie version because it is the original version of the iconic plunge, and also because he saves Lois Lane. What sweeter moment is there than seeing Superman save his love from certain death?
23. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – Croc Snack
Indiana Jones has made a career out of falling, and not finding a way to include him on this list would be a travesty. Jones often stumbles into discoveries by falling. At other times he has almost fallen to his death. However, the fall I chose for this list is a a classic fall – the death of a villain. Jones ruthlessly kicks Mola Ram, the thuggee priest, into a crocodile-infested river, and saves the day. How’s that for satisfactory ending?
22. The Matrix – The Jump Program
The Matrix films are another set of films with many spectacular falling scenes. For this list I decided to choose one of the first, and perhaps one of the most original. When Neo is being trained by Morpheus, he is tasked with jumping between two skyscrapers. Neo is supposed to put mind over matter and convince himself that the height isn’t real because it is part of the training program, not real life, despite seeming very real. He fails to do this, of course. Tank exclaims, “Everyone misses the first jump.”
21. Iron Man 2 – AC/DC Opening
Tony Stark isn’t exactly humble. Not only does he have an entire convention dedicated to his namesake company, but he has to have the grandest entrance to said convention. Not only does he jump out of a plane, but there are fireworks, music, dancing, and screaming crowds. It’s a hell of a way to arrive, and an impactful opening to Iron Man’s second cinematic adventure.