Top 10 Most Difficult Movie Scenes Ever Filmed

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Top 10 Most Difficult Movie Scenes Ever Filmed

VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild WRITTEN BY: Mimi Kenny
These scenes prove that Hollywood is anything but lazy. For this list, we'll be looking at the movie scenes that had the most logistical challenges behind the scenes. Our countdown includes “The Dark Knight Rises”, "Saving Private Ryan", “Titanic”, and more!
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Top 10 Most Difficult Movie Scenes to Film


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Difficult Movie Scenes to Film.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the movie scenes that had the most logistical challenges behind the scenes.

Which of these movie scenes seems most difficult to you? Let us know in the comments!

#10: Bridge Collapse

“The Bridge on the River Kwai” (1957)
Before the days of CGI, if you wanted to film a bridge collapse in a movie, you needed to use some realistic-looking scale models. Or, you could collapse an actual bridge. That’s what David Lean did for this WWII epic. A bridge was built solely to be destroyed for the film’s climactic moment where a train passes over it. This was a moment that needed to be timed perfectly, as you can't just "unexplode" a bridge. Thankfully, the scene was nailed, and “The Bridge on the River Kwai” was cemented as an all-time classic. It’s the rare case of things coming together through things falling apart.


#9: Plane Crash

“The Dark Knight Rises” (2012)
From its opening moments, the final installment in Christopher Nolan's "Batman" trilogy lets us know it's ending things in a big way. Masked villain Bane hijacks a CIA plane and absconds with a nuclear physicist, escaping before the aircraft comes crashing down. When you watch a scene like this, for a movie made in the 2010s, you figure it must be some seriously impressive CGI. But this moment is all stunt work and practical effects, including a simulator for interior shots. By putting such care into such an overwhelming scene, Nolan reminds us why “Batman” movies were more than just your average superhero fare.

#8: Wingsuits

“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” (2011)
The “Transformers” movies clearly have lots of CGI. But there’s one sequence that wouldn’t be possible without some incredible stunt work. In the third film in the live-action series, the NEST strike team literally flies into battle in Chicago, with the aid of wingsuits. If it looks like the actors are genuinely in the air, that’s because they are. Director Michael Bay hired actual wingsuit skydivers, who he found through a "60 Minutes" report, for the film. The divers, who practiced the jump on a Swiss mountain, had cameras attached to their helmets. Knowing that this was real makes the rush of the scene all the greater.

#7: Catching the Food

“Spider-Man” (2002)
A great moment from the first live-action "Spider-Man" movie comes when Mary Jane Watson slips in the cafeteria, and the newly spider-powered Peter Parker catches not only her, but also everything on her lunch tray. Both Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire look absolutely amazed when the food lands. As they should, because this wasn't done with CGI. According to John Dykstra, a special effects artist who worked on the film, it took 156 takes for Maguire to catch the food. Considering he was maneuvering the tray with only one hand, we're doubly impressed. This scene could've used CGI or been scrapped entirely, but we love the audacity of doing it for real.


#6: Skydiving

“Iron Man 3” (2013)
Here’s another incredible scene in which people falling from the sky were actually falling from the sky. In the third “Iron Man” film, Tony Stark rescues 13 people ejected from a plane by having them link hands with one another as a “Barrel of Monkeys'' before landing to safety. It’s a thrilling scene that reminds us why we admire Iron Man so much. And it was also done without a green screen. The Red Bull Skydiving Team played the people falling out of the plane, and another member of the team stood in for Iron Man, who was CGI-ed in. According to visual effects artists Erik Nash, they did this without goggles. How’s that for superpowers?

#5: Corridor Fight

“Oldboy” (2003)
Imagine having to go through a tremendous physical ordeal, then having to do it seventeen more times. That’s what happened to actor Choi Min-sik, the star of this incredible Korean revenge drama. This scene, in which his main character Dae-su faces off against 25 men in a hallway, is both impressive physically and cinematically. Filmed in a four-minute, unbroken take, it sees Min-sik wielding a hammer as he fights off his opponents, who are no pushovers themselves. To go through this sequence once is incredible, let alone 18 times. It’s a good thing Stanley Kubrick wasn’t the director of “Oldboy.”


#4: D-Day

“Saving Private Ryan” (1998)
The D-Day sequence at the beginning of Steven Spielberg’s WWII-set masterpiece is so powerful in its viscerality, it puts most other war movies to shame. And though it might last about 25 minutes, it took a lot longer than that to film. Spielberg and his actors - including 1,500 extras - spent a whole month shooting this scene, employing handheld cameras to make the viewer feel like they're right on the ground with them. It took whole days to get certain shots, but the meticulousness was worth it. With this sequence, Spielberg makes us realize just how glamorized most depictions of combat are.

#3: The Sinking

“Titanic” (1997)
The behind-the-scenes information about “Titanic” is as compelling as the movie itself. In order to convey the absolute awe of the massive ship sinking into the frosty depths of the North Atlantic, director James Cameron had to pull out all the stops. This meant building a replica of the famous vessel and using the shrewdest mix of special effects and editing to make it seem as though we’re actually seeing it sink. And multiple takes weren’t possible for a moment like the flooding of the Grand Staircase. Between this, the 160-day shoot, and actors being submerged in frigid water tanks, “Titanic” was a filming experience that put cast and crew through the wringer.

#2: Everything

“The Abyss” (1989)
Before recreating the sinking of the Titanic, James Cameron took us into the unknown depths of the ocean with “The Abyss.” The sci-fi film was largely filmed underwater, requiring the cast to get diving certification prior to filming. All this time spent underwater meant the actors had to routinely experience decompression before coming back to the surface. Actors like Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio have spoken about how stressful and scary the shoot was. Harris nearly drowned at one point and later said he would never talk about the film. Cameron himself was also majorly affected by the shoot, saying he didn't realize just how hard it would be. Anyone who thinks making movies is easy needs to imagine working on "The Abyss."


#1: The Plane

“Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation” (2015)
Appropriate for the star of movies called “Mission: Impossible,” Tom Cruise’s goal seems to be to shock us with his bravery. First, there was his actual scaling of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, for “Ghost Protocol.” Then, for 2015’s “Rogue Nation,” he soared to further heights. For the scene in which hero Ethan Hunt clings to a plane as it takes off, Cruise was actually attached to the plane. There were plenty of safety measures taken, such as having Cruise in a harness and securely fastened to the aircraft. But this is still one of the biggest movie stars on the planet on the exterior of a plane as it's in flight. It definitely couldn’t be us.
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