Moments that really matter in fiction

This is kind of inspired by all of the videos my husband has been watching on YouTube lately. Lots of top ten lists on EVERYTHING. While this isn’t in any particular order, I thought I’d post 10 of my favorite moments from fiction – both books and movies.

You know those moments? They’re the moments that stick with you. Maybe they made you cry. Maybe they made you laugh. Or maybe filled you with terror. Or maybe they were just so freaking awesome that you loved them.

Warning, that these will be spoilers if you haven’t ever seen or read the particular scene I’m talking about.

Joust by Mercedes Lackey

The Dragon Jousters series was a gift from my good friend and fellow writer one year for either my birthday or Christmas. I devoured the 4 book series several times over a couple weeks and enjoyed it very much, but my absolute favorite and best moment is almost the end of the first book, when Vetch is making his escape on his dragon, Avatre. He realizes that his master Ari and his dragon Kashet are pursuing and that he is about to be captured. For Vetch, the worst thing in the world is his beloved dragon being taken from him and both of them being forced into slavery. A fate worse than death. So he decides to give Avatre her freedom by falling from her in mid-flight.

Vetch’s attempted suicide is stopped by Ari and Kashet, when Ari reveals that he is not going to take him back to slavery, but is rather going to help him to freedom.

I absolutely LOVE scenes like this, where the hero is so certain that he is going to die. And then he is saved by the last person he thought would save him. Those are my favorites in books and movies and honestly, when I read Joust the first time, I bawled at this scene. I saw the method of rescue coming (Mercedes Lackey foreshadowed it pretty well earlier), but the raw emotion of this scene hit me hard.

Return of the King by J.R.R Tolkien

Okay, I’m picking one moment from Lord of the Rings, though there were several that I absolutely adored. I was a late fan to LOTR. I finished reading The Fellowship of the Ring the day I saw it in theaters (would have been December 2001). My good friend (now husband) took me to the movie, having been a LOTR fan for a very long time…

But I digress…

One of those moments in LOTR is near the end of the trilogy, when poor Frodo is exhausted from carrying the Ring up the slopes of Mount Doom and Sam cries, “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!” and piggybacks Frodo up the mountain.

Now, Sam really has a lot of good moments, like his brilliant retort to Frodo’s “I’m going to Mordor alone,” to showing up to fight Shelob, to rescuing Frodo from the tower of Cirith Ungol, but his best is carrying Frodo. And I dearly love the way it was portrayed in the movie.

Mattimeo by Brian Jacques

One of these days I’m going to have a long post about Mr. Jacques and the Redwall series, but that is not this day. The reason Mattimeo is on this list is because that’s the book that started my obsession. I actually could attribute my marriage to this book (see, there’s a long story there!).

I was somewhere between 10 and 13 when I picked up Mattimeo because of it’s interesting cover and the thickness of the book itself. I vividly remember sitting outside during our school’s break time with the book and reading the prologue with that one line repeated over and over.

Orlando the Axe was following the fox.

That prologue, which is really only a page in the book, changed my life.


Yes, yes, I know. Everyone is sick and tired of Frozen by this time. But it had one of those moments, well, several moments for me actually.

You see, I was a pretty hard-core Disney fan. Especially back in the day when the movies were good. I stopped watching them not long after Mulan, because the stories looked dumb and the animation was hideous! A friend convinced me to watch Tangled, and I watched the Princess and the Frog because it looked so much like the classic Disney that I’d adored growing up. The previews for Frozen looked promising, and the Let It Go with the building of the ice castle looked awesome.

So I took my 3-year-old daughter to her first in-theater movie last Christmas. And as I sat there through the opening scenes, I mentally made these remarks. “There’s the villain. There’s the love interest. There’s… hmm, I guess the other love interest.” I kinda figured Prince Hans would end up with one of the sisters and Kristoff would be with the other. Two girls, two love interests, typical Disney. Or so I thought.

When it’s decided that Anna needs True Love’s kiss to thaw her frozen heart, I sat back and went, “Wait… That’s too obvious!” I guessed Kristoff would be the True Love.

Disney blew my mind when Hans refused to kiss Anna. My jaw, quite literally, dropped and I nearly said, “Wait! HE’S the villain?” I did not see that coming and there was a little part of me that bounced up and down like a giddy little girl, because it caught me by such surprise.

Then Anna’s sacrifice to save her sister proving to be the act of true love was brilliant. I nearly stood up and applauded.

Doctor Who

In Season 3, Episode 1, “Smith and Jones,” the 10th Doctor confronts the Plasmavore and gets her to drink his blood, so that the Judoon will find the alien. The Doctor’s rant about the rhinos from space on the moon is hysterical and his near death in the attempt to save the humans is one of those moments where you see just how far he’s willing to go to protect people. Because if you’ve seen enough Doctor Who, you know the Doctor can talk his way out of the craziest of situations, but at this moment, he allowed himself to be nearly killed (or at least pushed close to Regeneration), because it will give the Judoon the target they need.

Life is Beautiful

I saw this movie when I lived in Africa and we had Family Night with the local missionaries. I knew the movie had won an Oscar, but had never watched it. Throughout the movie Guido manages to get himself in and out of the craziest situations with his quick wit and his protection of his son and his love for his wife make the movie well worth watching in and of itself (and it my opinion, it’s better to watch it with the subtitles, rather than dubbed).

But at the end, when he is cornered by the Nazi and taken just out of sight, you’re fully expecting one more great escape.

Then the gun fires.

The movie gives you a few agonizing moments where you’re hoping, just hoping, to see Guido one last time.

The soldiers leave. The prisoners escape. And Guido’s little son emerges from his hiding place alone, and then gets his tank. And the jewel on the crown of this movie is as he is riding on the tank past the people who were freed, he suddenly cries out (in that ADORABLE accent!), “Mama!” and is reunited with his mother.

Yeah, have Kleenex ready…

The Happiest Millionaire

The other great movie that I got introduce to in Africa is, I think, a lost Disney classic. Very few people have ever heard of the Happiest Millionaire. Especially considering the fact that it’s the last film Walt Disney worked on before his death, it strikes me as odd that it isn’t more well known. While the plot is a little disjointed and it takes some time to establish the main character, the character of the Irish immigrant, John Lawless, is one of my favorites. He’s a cheery, positive, hard-working fellow who rolls with the crazy punches that the Biddle family throws at him. It’s actually hard for me to pick just one specific point in this movie that I love. Pretty much any scene with John Lawless makes me happy, from his explanation of the word Fortuosity at the beginning, to the “Let’s Have a Drink On It” song near the end. But by far is the breaking of the fourth wall shortly after the alligators thaw and Cordy and her father make up, when John is talking to the audience and Mr. Biddle asks him who he’s talking to while glaring into the camera.

“No one, sir.”

“Well, you know what they say about people who talk to themselves!”

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I think I was nearly twenty by the time I picked up this classic, odd when you consider how many people compared me to Jo March at a younger age. The book itself amused me greatly and I enjoyed it so much, until I reached the point where Beth dies.

I didn’t see it coming and it shocked me greatly. I recently re-read the book on my Kindle while feeding my twins. Of course, I reached Beth’s death during a midnight feeding, where I bawled as quietly as possible and went back to bed sniffing pitifully.

Fiddler on the Roof

While this was very well done in the classic movie, I found a rendition by a local theater company to be my favorite. I may be a little biased, because my husband performed in this show not long after we were married. The scene was when Chava begs her father to accept her marriage to Fyedka, who is not Jewish. Tevye considers this, then decides that he will not turn on his Jewish convictions, not even for his own daughter. In the play my husband performed in, as Tevye refuses Chava and she cries out “Papa, please!” several times, the entire cast, with their hands up and together, marches between Tevye and Chava, while singing the chorus part of “Tradition” at the top of their lungs. Chava’s cries are drown out and she is lost to view as the cast marches across the stage. When the last member exits, Tevye is left alone and Chava is gone.

Phantom of the Opera

Since I’ve never actually read the original version of Phantom of the Opera (yes, shame on me…), what I’m referencing is the musical adaptation. I was privileged to see the Broadway version in 2001 when I was in the New York area for my cousin’s wedding, and I enjoy the more recent movie as well.

The scene that sticks with me here is at the end, when Raoul has come to rescue Christine and the Phantom catches him with the lasso. The Phantom lays down his ultimatum, choose him and Raoul will go free, but choose Raoul and Raoul will die. Christine has two great lines during this scene. “This haunted face holds no horror for me now. It’s in your soul that the true distortion lies.” And then when she is given her choice, her point of no return, she responds with a kiss for the Phantom after these words, “Pitiful creature of darkness, what kind of life have you known? God give me courage to show you, you are not alone…” This song and scene are my favorites in Phantom, for the emotion that swirls around the trio’s singing is fantastic.

Those are some of my favorites. What scenes from books or movies do you love? Comment and let me know!

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