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Top 10 Dramatic Slow Motion Scenes

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Nolan Moore Sometimes you’ve got to take things slow… Really slow. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 dramatic slow-motion scenes. For this list, we’re looking at slow-mo moments that elevate emotions, ratchet up the tension, or leave us with a sense of awe. But since we’ve already done lists on both action and comedy scenes, don’t look for any slow-motion explosions or big laughs. Today, it’s all about the drama. And heads up, there are spoilers ahead, so SPOILER ALERT. Special thanks to our users Badass, jackhammer, Michael Chapman, David Ram, 2000g, Brendan Rigby, Shakib Ahmed and Lewis Pearce for submitting the idea through our Suggest Tool at WatchMojo.comSuggest
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Written by Nolan Moore

Top 10 Dramatic Slow Motion Scenes


Sometimes you’ve got to take things slow… Really slow. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 dramatic slow-motion scenes.

For this list, we’re looking at slow-mo moments that elevate emotions, ratchet up the tension, or leave us with a sense of awe. But since we’ve already done lists on both action and comedy scenes, don’t look for any slow-motion explosions or big laughs. Today, it’s all about the drama. And heads up, there are spoilers ahead, so SPOILER ALERT.

#10: The Dark Side Cave
“Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)

It’s usually a bad idea to hang out in creepy caverns, and that’s something Luke Skywalker learns the hard way. When this Jedi-in-training ignores Yoda’s advice and heads into the Dark Side Cave with his lightsaber, he’s in for one scary showdown. In a scene ripped out of a padawan’s worst nightmare, Luke faces the specter of Darth Vader, and in horrifying slow-mo, learns he isn’t far from the Dark Side himself.

#9: The Bloody Prom
“Carrie” (1976)

Some girls never catch a break. Take poor Carrie White for example. Tormented by bullies and abused by her mom, Carrie is finally named prom queen, only to end up the victim of a vicious prank. In excruciatingly painful slow-mo, a friend tries to warn Carrie about the bucket of blood that’s teetering over her head…but she’s too late. As the bucket slowly tumbles down, we know things are about to get really messy.

#8: The Last Dance
“Rushmore” (1998)

Wes Anderson is the king of quirky comedies, and his films have more than their fair share of poignant slow-motion moments. But in “Rushmore,” the bittersweet slow-motion scene is put to its greatest effect. After failing to woo an older woman, precocious teenager Max Fisher finally gets to dance with his ladylove. By slowing things down, Anderson lets audiences – and Max – enjoy the last moments of our hero’s first romance.

#7: Wendy’s Vision
“The Shining” (1980)

When struggling writer Jack Torrance decides to move into a haunted hotel, he and his family, including his psychic son, Danny, and his put-upon wife Wendy, start seeing some scary stuff. In one of the film’s most frightening sequences, Wendy envisions gallons of slow-mo gore bursting from the Overlook elevator. Not only does this flood of blood fill the lobby, it also fills viewers with mounting dread. Like the Torrance family, we aren’t sure what’s waiting at this hotel, but it’s probably not a complimentary breakfast.

#6: When Robots Collide
“Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991)

From nightmare fodder to epic send-offs, director James Cameron knows how to slow things down to build up suspense. And in this scene, he turns the tension up to 11. Running through a hallway, future resistance leader John Connor finds himself trapped between two Terminators…one good, one bad. Audiences in 1991 were unsure which cyborg was the villain, and the scene’s agonizing pace makes things even more thrilling.

#5: Let’s Keep Going
“Thelma & Louise” (1991)

After accidentally becoming modern day outlaws, these two gals end up robbing and shooting their way across the U.S. And much to their surprise, they’re pretty good at it. But their crime spree comes to a crashing halt when they find themselves surrounded by cops at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Unwilling to spend their lives behind bars, these female desperadoes decide to go out in slow-mo style, hand-in-hand, and free as a Thunderbird.

#4: Thus Spoke Zarathustra
“2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)

Before he gave us a bloody elevator, Stanley Kubrick showed us the wonder of the cosmos. Over several million years, “2001” wows viewers with graceful satellites and LSD-fuelled spaceflights. However, it’s the opening slow-mo scene that really stands out. With Richard Strauss’ score pounding away, the camera slowly reveals the Moon, Earth, and Sun in perfect alignment, displaying the universe in all its glory and setting the stage for the marvels to come.

#3: In the Ring
“Raging Bull” (1980)

Now here’s a Martin Scorsese movie that embraces slow-mo even more than “Mean Streets.” This sports classic starts with boxer Jake LaMotta dancing like a rough-and-tumble ballerina, and that’s just the opening credits. Whenever Jake goes to war, Scorsese slows things down so we can witness every painful blow. Whether LaMotta is destroying an opponent or trapped against the ropes, the slow-mo captures all the blood, all the sweat, and all the rage inside the ring.

#2: Elias’ Death
“Platoon” (1986)

War is hell, especially when your own guys want to kill you. After witnessing a massacre of My Lai proportions, the goodhearted Elias gets “fragged” by the murderous Sergeant Barnes. Left for dead, he runs for a nearby helicopter, only to be gunned down by the Viet Cong. Coupled with a soul-wrenching score, this heartbreaking scene sums up the brutal reality of war. Death comes for everyone, even the good guys.

Before we slowly unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Ripley’s Stomach Ache
“Aliens” (1986)
- Little Green Bag
“Reservoir Dogs” (1992)
- Back to School
“Donnie Darko” (2001)
- Love in an Elevator
“Drive” (2011)

#1: Running on the Beach
“Chariots of Fire” (1981)

Who would’ve thought a scene about jogging could be so iconic? Coupled with Vangelis’ Oscar-winning score, this slow-motion scene has become one of the all-time greatest movie moments. As they slowly sprint down the sand, we see how much running means to these white-clad athletes. Exercise makes most of us groan, but it gives these guys joy and purpose. Despite the endless parodies this scene has elicited, this slow-mo run has earned its place in cinematic history.

Do you agree with our list? What are your favorite dramatic slow-motion scenes? For more amazing Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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