It wont stop raining. It is relentless.
Those are my exact thoughts as I see my front yard becoming an Olympic sized swimming pool. As I look outside at the torrential downpour I am always picturing myself in a powerful scene from a film. Rain after all is a powerful dramatic tool that filmmakers have used in their work for the longest time. If you were to ask someone “Which rain scene from the 90’s sticks out to you the most?” I am sure a lot of people would tell you “Dude, Jurassic Park! Are you kidding me? Epic scene.”
They wouldn’t be wrong that is for sure. That is one of the most legendary scenes in all of cinema. Speilberg is a master craftsman and the way he directs that scene is utter brilliance.
But I am not here to talk about that scene. I am here to talk about a scene I feel goes overlooked when it comes to great cinematic rain scenes. That scene of course, coming from the brilliant POINT BREAK. I am not talking about that bullshit abomination of a remake that I refuse to watch because the trailer alone damaged the incredible reputation that has been earned by Kathryn Bigelow’s action masterpiece POINT BREAK (1991). Having to put the year by this movie is why I hate remakes, reboots, etc.. Point Break is one of the best action films of the 90’s (which was a great decade for fun action films and before the CGI shit fest took over) and one that still holds up beautifully today.
The entire film is gripping and I could go on and on about the film as a whole but I am here today writing this blog while still listening to the rain drops on my window to talk about the incredible ending scene all set during the 50 year storm. SPOILERS AHEAD if you havent seen a film that came out in 1991.
The ending scene alone is a scene that all filmmakers should watch and study. Even without the context of the entire film it works as almost a short film, giving you details about what has come before, details that weren’t shown on screen, and details about each characters motivations and inner turmoil.
WITH the context, it becomes an essential rain scene in cinematic history. Rain should be an addition to a scene. There needs to be a reason for the rain. How many times have we seen rain in scenes where you are wondering why the hell the characters just won’t go inside. Why can’t they just have that conversation in the car. There is really no need for them to be out in the rain. All great rain scenes use rain as a necessity in the story. They use it to create atmosphere. To create drama. To create symbolism. POINT BREAK uses rain as a culmination of the entire film and in a way, symbolizing that the downpour of this storm, this rain, this moment, has been brewing throughout the entire film is now unleashed on our two lead characters. Finally having to face the cinematic downpour of their actions throughout the film.
That’s a deep way to look at it I know. In the simplest terms its raining because Patrick Swayze’s Bodhi (his best performance ever) is getting ready to catch a wave during the 50 year storm he has referenced throughout the film. If we look deeper though at how Kathryn Bigelow uses rain in this scene we can see that it not only adds drama and danger to the scene but it also adds a layer of symbolism to me that I mentioned earlier. The entire film is sunny, vibrant and bright during the day. A true summer movie. Even when the film shifts to the night sequences there is still this campfire essence to the scenes where you feel you are at a summer beach. But in this scene, we see the characters are older. Time has passed and they seem hardened, weakened, and flat out exhausted from all of the events over the course of the film. I talked about building up this moment as the “storm brewing” and to me that is not only in terms of plot, but in terms of these two men’s friendship. Their brotherhood. Their bond.
Bodhi has learned a ton from Utah throughout the film, and Utah has learned just as much and even more from Bodhi. These two man aren’t so different with how they see the world but circumstances and actions have defined them. Their relationship was built on a respect between men. A respect between ideals. A respect of one another. Utah doesn’t want to kill Bodhi, and he doesn’t even want to arrest him. He has been searching for him this whole time (the events we don’t see but are referenced in the ending between the two) not for his job, but for himself, for closure. It’s made even more evident when Utah screams to Bodhi “YOU HAVE TO GO DOWN, IT HAS TO BE THIS WAY.”
Bodhi wants to die a free man. Utah wants to be a free man.
This, to me, is the essence of this entire scene and the character arc for each of them reaching a culmination. The storm has arrived. No longer can these two men get what they want and stay friends. Stay brothers (metaphorically speaking).
That’s why this scene is so great. At this point of the film we like both of these characters. We understand them. We know why they are having this moment in the rain. It’s not just a plot device to add drama, it is where the two men had to meet up and had to have this moment. The 50 year storm was a metaphor on these men’s lives the entire film. Swayze plays it so damn brilliantly here. I truly believe he should of been nominated for an Oscar. The pain in his eyes when he realizes that maybe he is going to be put in a cage and not die a free man. When he flat out begs Utah to let him go. We see the wheels turning in Utah’s mind. A man who has been forever changed during this undercover job and realizing he doesn’t want to be controlled by this job and if he is just locking Bodhi up because that is what he has been told to do. I believe Utah went out there to catch Bodhi, but seeing him again, in person, is almost like seeing an old flame or someone you love for the first time in years. Those feelings came back and he had that realization. It’s a beautiful, tense, funny, and heartbreaking scene. The rain was part of the story and part of the characters.
I encourage all filmmakers or just fans of film to watch this film and analyze this scene in particular. Not only to show you how to build character moments but how to add things like rain and other effects to your film in a natural way and not just say “How can I get my characters in the rain for a great scene.”
And if you are ever in the rain again, and you are wanting to have an incredibly dramatic walk off from the person you are talking to, simply walk away, throw whatever it is in your hand on the floor, and as Special Agent Johnny Utah says, say “VAYA CON DIOS.”