Hollywood in Toto

10 Great Social Isolation Movie Scenes

The unending pandemic gave us a deeper understanding of social isolation and a kinship with the fictional characters who skilled it.

It’s secure to say we’re all prepared for this to be over (in truth, that is likely to be the understatement of the 12 months).

In the meantime, we are able to take consolation in having fun with motion pictures about characters going by way of one thing comparable (if a bit extra dramatic). So with that in thoughts, listed below are 10 memorable film scenes of social isolation that we are able to extra deeply relate to those lockdown days.

(Warning, a number of spoilers forward!)

‘I Am Legend’ – “Please Say Hello to Me”

In the third movie adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel, Will Smith performs army scientist Robert Neville, the final human inhabitant of post-apocalyptic New York City (and possibly the world).

Living in a well-secured home together with his solely companion, a devoted German Shepard, Neville passes his time gathering meals, utilizing town as a playground and looking for a remedy for the illness that turned people into violent, nocturnal monsters.

This routine retains him sane for some time, however after shedding his canine companion, the conclusion that he’s really alone causes his hope to empty away and the dam lastly breaks on his sanity. He doesn’t “snap” in a typical Hollywood style, however as a substitute loses his thoughts in a heartbreaking scene the place he begs a model to speak to him.

The silence he receives in response is solely greater than he can bear.

Many viewers had their points with the movie, notably a retooled ending from Matheson’s story to make Smith’s character look extra heroic. But the primary half is an undeniably highly effective take a look at how the loneliness of quarantine dwelling can erode our psychological well being, illustrated by Smith’s wonderful efficiency.

‘The Hurricane’ – Solitary Confinement

Director Norman Jewison’s historic drama recalling falsely-imprisoned boxer Ruben “Hurricane” Carter has been largely forgotten nowadays. Perhaps it’s as a result of nearly all the things depicted in it was a mislead push Hollywood’s “everybody was racist again then” narrative. But whilst a piece of fiction, there are elements of the movie value appreciating, beginning with Denzel Washington’s magnificent lead efficiency as Carter.

It’s a textbook instance of how a fantastic actor can transcend the film he’s in and make it value watching all by himself. Throughout the movie, we really feel Carter’s barely-suppressed rage at being locked up for a criminal offense he didn’t commit. It threatens to strip him of his humanity in addition to his freedom.

Nowhere is that this higher exemplified than a scene the place he’s put into solitary confinement for an prolonged time period. Stuck at midnight by himself, day after day, with no human contact, we watch as he desperately struggles to carry onto his grasp of actuality. He talks to himself, primarily prepared himself to maintain it collectively someway.

It’s a harrowing take a look at how isolation and hopelessness can take its toll on our psychological state, if left unchecked. And Washington sells it completely.

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‘Flushed Away’ – Roddy’s Home Routine

On the opposite hand, being alone doesn’t all the time should be utterly soul-crushing. In reality, as “Flushed Away” exhibits, with some sources and a bit creativity, it may be a ton of enjoyable.

The wacky animated flick entails a pampered pet rat named Roddy (Hugh Jackman) whose comfy existence is interrupted by getting flushed down the bathroom. He should now make his approach by way of an uncomfortable and harmful trek within the sewer with the working-class rodents who name it residence.

But earlier than the primary journey begins, we’re handled to a nifty opening sequence the place we see how the mostly-neglected pet fills out his lonely existence with all the things from a volleyball sport to a date with a Barbie doll, all winkingly set to Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself.”

It’s a energetic, enjoyable montage, albeit one with a tragic undercurrent that lets us know simply how a lot Roddy craves actual companionship. Sure, play-acting a romantic date and a enjoyable day of friendship with a bunch of dolls is usually a blast, but it surely doesn’t actually repair the outlet inside. Still, you gotta give Roddy credit score for making the perfect of issues and having a very good time.

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‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ – Scott’s House Arrest

A minor however gratifying entry within the MCU sequence, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” supplied a refreshing return to extra light-hearted Marvel storytelling after the depth of “Avengers: Infinity War.” This is finest exemplified by its hero, Scott Lang AKA Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and this amusing opening sequence.

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Like the aforementioned “Flushed Away,” the film begins with its hero trapped at residence (he’s confined to deal with arrest after siding with Captain America in “Civil War”). A montage of him attempting to move the time alone any approach he can ensues. Unlike the animated rat in “Flushed Away,” Scott isn’t attempting to stave off loneliness, simply boredom.

He’s used to being alone (he’s an ex-convict, in any case), however after getting a style of the thrill and motion of being a superhero, being caught in a home alone appears nearly as tedious as being again in jail, even whether it is much more comfy.

Like the film it’s in, the scene is inconsequential however enjoyable, an entertaining little montage buoyed by Rudd’s pure appeal and comedic expertise (his character is the one hero within the Marvel Cinematic Universe that may be a genuinely good man). The sequence hums to the tune of The Partridge Family’s “Come On, Get Happy.”

For followers nonetheless bummed out by the ending of “Infinity War,” it was precisely the pick-me-up they wanted. (Plus, it taught us in regards to the sensible elements of issues like the best way to take a shower whereas sporting an ankle monitor, which is one thing I had by no means actually thought of.) And for these of us nonetheless attempting to get by way of 2020 with our sanity intact, it’s a very good reminder that quarantine can no less than be enjoyable.

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‘WALL-E’ – Just Another Workday

For what must be Pixar’s most miserable film, “WALL-E” begins out on a deceptively gentle be aware, its titular robotic going about his workday, cheerfully cleansing up rubbish and storing it away for future disposal.

However, his happy-go-lucky angle is all blissful ignorance, as he doesn’t understand the larger image. He’s the one inhabitant (aside from a cockroach he has befriended) of a post-apocalyptic Earth that has been ruined by air pollution and overpopulation.

Like a variety of us who’re presently working from residence in isolation, he has discovered momentary solace in his day-to-day work, but it surely’s a poor substitute for the true which means and companionship his existence lacks.

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Eventually, his bubble of cheery isolation is punctured when he unexpectedly meets one other robotic, a feminine mannequin named EVE, who has come to Earth on the lookout for indicators of recent life. The emotions WALL-E develops for her – companionship and one thing resembling love – awaken him to each the conclusion of what life is de facto about, and to the unhappy reality that he’s an insignificant cog in a machine that has utterly forgotten him.

Through EVE, he reconnects with the final survivors of the human race (circling above the planet in computer-provided luxurious whereas lengthy awaiting their return to Earth), and is launched to each hazard and to the chance to combat in opposition to the darkish forces which might be holding people of their comfy enslavement.

Amidst the movie’s endearing hero, sharp imagery and admittedly farfetched apocalyptic situation, there’s a message about how our lives solely have actual which means after we’re capable of join with others.

That theme has a particular resonance nowadays.

‘Dawn of the Dead’ – Hollywood Squares

In lockdown, it’s completely important to have enjoyable any approach you possibly can. After all, as the good social gathering poet Jimmy Buffett put it, “if we couldn’t snicker, we might all go insane.”

Zack Snyder’s wonderful 2004 “Dawn of the Dead” remake reimagined a bloody, badass zombie apocalypse story for the 21st century that coated a variety of fascinating thematic floor amidst the frights and bloodshed.

And one of many main themes explored was that folks locked right down to keep away from an exterior risk might be threatened by an equally harmful, inside one: insanity. People can solely keep hemmed-in with out hope for thus lengthy earlier than they begin to lose it. As Ving Rhames’ character places it, “there are some issues worse than loss of life, and one in all them is sitting right here ready to die.”

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One of the methods the characters in DotD maintain their sanity is to have interaction in what passes for recreation within the zombie apocalypse. In this case, which means sitting on a rooftop with a rifle and taking part in a grisly sport of “Hollywood Squares,” by which they shoot zombies that resemble celebrities.

It’s a beautiful, darkly comedian scene that prompts the group’s conscience, Ana (Sarah Polley), to query simply how dangerous the opposite survivors’ childhoods had been. But in actuality, what’s transpiring is simply a variety of pent-up frustration being purged in an act of wickedly humorous violence. In a standard state of affairs it may appear disturbing, however within the zombie apocalypse it’s as innocent as punching a pillow.

And hey, what different film scene might get away with its heroes gleefully taking pictures Rosie O’Donnell within the head?

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‘Cast Away’ – “I Have Made Fire!”

Sometimes you’ve simply gotta rejoice the small victories in life, particularly when these small victories are all you’ve acquired. Case in level: this fabulous scene from Robert Zemeckis’ “Cast Away.”

By the time it rolls round, Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) has been by way of a terrifying aircraft crash, washed up on a abandoned island and suffered a sequence of setbacks in his makes an attempt to each escape the island and survive.

If there was ever a personality that desperately wanted a win, it’s Chuck. So he turns into decided to start out a hearth, and missing matches or every other fire-starting implement, he units about doing it the way in which his caveman ancestors did.

He rubs two sticks collectively actually, actually quick. It’s quite a bit more durable than it seems to be, although.

Like Edison attempting to invent the lightbulb, we watch Chuck try to spark a hearth, failing again and again however not giving up. At one level he slices open his hand and tosses away a volleyball whereas yelling in ache and frustration.

That inadvertently creates the movie’s well-known secondary “character,” Wilson.

Finally, after a lot blood, sweat and exhaustion, he makes a spark and construct his first fireplace. Elated by this accomplishment, lets out a giant stomach snicker, dances across the blaze and shouts with satisfaction to nobody specifically about what he has made.

It’s a aid for each Chuck and the viewers to see him lastly obtain a victory – even when watching him rejoice it by himself is a bit unhappy.

The sequence lights off a spark of hope inside him that hey, with some grit and perseverance, possibly he can survive this horrible ordeal. The second reminds all of us locked up and pissed off proper now that we should always benefit from the small wins and take hope in what they characterize.

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‘The Shining’ – “How Do You Like It?”

As mentioned within the earlier entry, isolation could make us (or the individuals with us) go a bit loopy. What’s much more disturbing is discovering out the individuals we’re remoted with had been nutso to start with, and isolation gave them an excuse to indicate their true colours.

How’s that for a dwelling nightmare?

Stanley Kubrick’s horror traditional imagines that precise situation for poor Wendy Torrance (Shelley Duvall), who’s already having the worst winter of her life. She’s holed up within the snowbound (and really haunted) Overlook Hotel along with her household whereas she and her recovering alcoholic author husband Jack (an unforgettable Jack Nicholson) act as its wintertime caretakers.

Over the months Wendy has watched as Jack slowly loses his thoughts – a course of aided tremendously by the numerous spirits that hang-out the previous resort – however issues shortly go from dangerous to a lot worse in arguably the movie’s most chilling scene. Wendy discovers the e book her husband has been writing all this time is nothing greater than a single sentence, “All work and play makes Jack a boring boy,” typed again and again.

Duvall captures Wendy’s sense of horror and hopelessness as she realizes that the husband she is trapped with isn’t going insane in any respect. He’s been that approach all alongside.

Even higher? Kubrick’s legendary path, plus a spine-tingling rating and Nicholson’s wickedly humorous line to his spouse, “How do you prefer it?”

As the quarantine drags on, and charges of suicide and companion abuse climb, it’s clear that the isolation is bringing out the worst in us. It’s additionally true that it’s not creating these traits however exacerbating what’s already there.

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‘Repulsion’ – Hallway of Horror

A uncommon instance of a female-centered isolation story, Roman Polanski’s psychological thriller facilities round Carol (Catherine Deneuve), a younger Belgian immigrant dwelling in London along with her sister.

Young, blonde and exquisite, Carol seems just like the form of gal any man would need through the Swinging Sixties. She’s additionally repressed to the purpose of being totally petrified of each males and intercourse for causes which might be by no means actually defined.

The mixture of her excessive shyness and immigrant standing depart Carol feeling lonely on her finest days, however when her sister leaves for an prolonged journey along with her boyfriend issues get even worse. Carol stops exhibiting up for work and successfully isolates herself within the small house, the place her already-fragile psychological state begins to degrade to a disturbing diploma.

The movie’s second half is a weird and darkish journey into the surreal as Carol’s insanity slowly and inevitably takes over. As her seclusion wears on, her irrational concern of contact with males manifests itself in weird hallucinations, driving her nearer and nearer to the sting of madness and violence till she lastly journeys and falls headfirst proper over it.

Nowhere is that this higher demonstrated than within the disturbing scene the place she walks down a hallway and imagines male arms arising out of the partitions to achieve out and grope at her. It’s simply one in all many strikingly surreal moments that Polanski throws at us, a creepy reminder of simply how tough an prolonged isolation might be on a single individual with nobody to maintain them grounded.

In a way, Carol will get precisely what she needs by being left alone in that house, and it’s a traditional instance of “watch out what you want for”.

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‘Mr. Mom’ – “I’m Losing It!”

Michael Keaton proved on this 1983 farce that going loopy in isolation doesn’t should be all that scary. In reality, it may possibly really be laugh-out-loud humorous.

Written by the good John Hughes, the comedy stars Keaton as Jack, a working dad who should transition to being the homemaker after he’s laid off  and his spouse (Teri Garr) turns into the brand new family supplier. The shift leaves him to handle the home and their three demanding youngsters.

The premise is considerably dated, with stay-at-home dads changing into way more widespread previously 25 years, but it surely’s nonetheless a really humorous take a look at the battle of becoming right into a nontraditional position in life. At first Jack is optimistic that he’ll be capable of profit from his undesired residence time, however his life shortly turns into a chaotic, sloppy mess of weight achieve, comfy garments and an excessive amount of TV.

Soon he’s pushed to the breaking level by the stress, isolation, and mind-numbing routine of his new life. (Those of us who’ve been caught in quarantine for the previous 9 months with our households can relate.)

The film has loads of memorable moments (the killer vacuum cleaner is a private childhood favourite), but it surely’s Keaton who actually makes it work. He injects his standard zany vitality and comedian timing into the position together with loads of coronary heart.

Nowhere can we really feel Jack’s plight greater than when he lastly vents his frustrations on his spouse in a rant that no different actor might’ve pulled off fairly like Keaton does. He delivers a line like, “My mind is like oatmeal!” in a approach that’s each chuckle-worthy and a determined cry for assist.

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Of course, it doesn’t change his circumstances, and his spouse’s suggestion that he take satisfaction in his new residence life falls on deaf ears, no less than till he wises up later within the film. But possibly that’s the perfect factor we are able to all do: make the perfect of our present state of affairs and take satisfaction in no matter we are able to obtain till this complete factor is over.

Honorable mentions: “Oldboy,” “The Martian,” “Five Feet Apart,” “The Aviator,” “Rango,” “Creepshow” and “Moon.”


Jim Culver is a longtime contributor to the now-defunct weblog and might be heard on The Hollywood in Toto Podcast.

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