Don’t Post Fireworks Videos—Watch These Movie Scene Fireworks Instead
Why post blurry Fourth of July vids on social media when you could post screenshots from these classic works of Independence Day cinema?
Listen up: No one wants to watch your video of fireworks. It’s not only a fact, it’s now a song. But for some reason, people believe that pix and video clips from their wild Fourth of July evenings should be shared on social media platforms—despite these videos being dark (fireworks happen at night), poor quality, and all exactly the same.
So resist your worst impulses this year, and watch these fireworks movie scenes instead. You can even post ’em on your Facebook. Trust us: they are lit better than whatever you’ve got, and the dialogue is probably better too.
Directed by Greg Mottola (Superbad), this ’80s nostalgia-glazed coming-of-ager stars Jesse Eisenberg as a post-college nerd who picks up a thankless summer job in hopes of earning enough cash to attend Columbia U for grad school. At a local amusement park, he falls in love with his co-worker (played by Kristen Stewart) and on July 4, the Adventureland crew gathers to watch fireworks together. He tries to impress her by saying he only really celebrates Bastille Day (cringe) and to the strains of Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” the pair gaze at each other; then they go make out in a car.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Ennis Delmar (Heath Ledger, in a performance that surpasses even his Dark Knight Joker, sorry) is a gruff cowboy who can barely look anyone in the eye. But when he meets Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal), he falls in impossible love; impossible because it’s the ’60s Midwest, and that kind of love is not appropriate. Naturally, Ennis marries a nice lady and has a couple of kids, though he meets up with Jack on the sly whenever he can. He has a lot of pent-up anger due to his living a lie, so when two hicks annoy him on the Fourth of July, he releases it all via fistfight in front of his family, hurling punches as fireworks explode behind him, shining reminders of an American freedom that can never exist for him.
The Patriot (2000)
As a kid, long before I had any inkling of Mel Gibson’s abusive tendencies or penchant for racial slurs, I loved this movie about the Revolutionary War (it also stars Heath Ledger!). Here, the British General Cornwallis is enjoying a party with his fellow civilized Redcoats, when Mel and his American militia roll up to ruin the party guerrilla-style, blowing up the Brit’s supply ship (which has all of Cornwallis’ nice clothes on board). One less-than-intellectual bewigged lady in the crowd claps her hands as the ship explodes; “Oh, fireworks! Lovely!” she cackles delightedly. In response, Colonel Tavington, a British commander (played with seductive brutality by Chris Isaacs) hurls back the rest of his drink as if to say FML.
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
This is more of a tone poem than a movie, an abstract tale of a little girl named Hushpuppy (played impressively by six-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis, who became the youngest Best Actress nominee in Oscar history) living with her father somewhere in poor, rural Louisiana outside New Orleans. Filmed on a shoestring budget in post-Katrina locations and directed by first-time filmmaker Benh Zeitlin, Beasts is a work of magical realism in which people live in ramshackle houses and catch fish with their bare hands, and prehistoric aurochs roam the land due to the melting ice caps and climate change. In this scene, the tight-knit community where Hushpuppy and her father live celebrate the Fourth, running wild with sparklers. Up in the air, there’s the bigger and more expensive firework show; but down on the ground, cheaper flickers of color reign down on the humble folk who refuse to leave their houses even as a storm threatens their lives. It’s their home.
A Quiet Place (2018)
I don’t particularly like this movie—directed by John Krasinski and starring his very patient wife, Emily Blunt—however, it does utilize fireworks in a wholly original manner. Because the monsters in this post-apocalyptic hellscape hunt by sound, Emily’s character is SOL when it comes to giving birth to a baby they have for some reason decided to make. She crawls into a bathtub as one of the creatures hunts her, desperate to repress her labor-screams. Unfortunately, giving birth is painful (so I’ve heard), and she’s not able to keep the screams in for long. In order to distract the creatures, her husband sets off fireworks, which they apparently keep on hand for emergencies such as this one; the fireworks are so loud they draw the beasts outside and away from Emily, who somehow finishes giving birth to her baby alone, cuts the umbilical cord, and is…fine.
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Although the famous scene at Bilbo’s 111th birthday party, in which Pippin and Merry sent off an enormous dragon firework, gets all the attention, I prefer this earlier, quieter moment with Gandalf and Frodo. It happens moments after our introduction to the trilogy’s sacrificial lamb, who sits innocently reading a book against a tree in the greenery of The Shire; then his old friend Gandalf pulls up in a carriage and we are simultaneously introduced to Ian McKellen’s iconic wizard. The two ride through the lovingly cultivated Hobbiton, and while the resident hobbits aren’t overly fond of Gandalf, who has been labelled a “disturber of the peace,” the neighborhood kids love him. A group of them run after them, calling Gandalf’s name and begging for fireworks. The wizard seems stern, disinclined to acquiesce, until several sudden sparklers shoot out the back of his carriage, erupting as the children cheer and Gandalf chuckles. “I’m glad you’re back,” Frodo tells him. FL