The Best Movie Moment: Twister (1996)
I’d like to take some movies that I enjoy and identify the one moment in each of them that stands out to me as “the best”.
Twister is a ridiculous disaster movie that’s also a lot of fun. In May of 1996, just a few months ahead of another bad/good favorite of many, Independence Day, Twister tore through the box office and collected nearly $500 million from audiences worldwide. These special effects were impressive for the day. Remember, at this time iPods weren’t even a thing and cell phones were just becoming a thing, sort of. CGI cows were noteworthy in this year.
Beyond the effects, Twister is essentially about the reconciliation of a nearly divorced couple amidst their harrowing attempt to learn more about tornadoes. Bill (Bill Paxton) and Jo(Helen Hunt…remember Helen Hunt?) learn to love each other again while driving around in an indestructible truck (which would ultimately be put to shame by the truck in 1997’s Dante’s Peak, but that’s for another day). Anyway, it’s all well and good for everyone except Bill’s lame fiancée, who’s lame because she prefers to avoid tornadoes.
So which moment is the best?
In the minutes before the twister chasing crew embarks on their main mission, they make a pit stop at a diner. Stepping away from the others, Bill looks to the horizon where the clouds are gathering. He picks up some dirt in his hand and lets it slowly fall. He observes the way the wind moves it. Somehow this will give him the knowledge he needs to make a wise move. Like a Native American of old, reading the signs of the natural world, Bill looks to nature to understand nature. It’s a silent standoff with the coming storm. Then, because Bill is the best, he makes his decision to move and everyone follows. This is the best scene in the movie. Dusty shares a story later in the film in which he identifies Bill as “the extreme.” He’s the craziest storm chaser there is. But he’s also the one who has a special connection with the weather. They are both wild and unpredictable. Bill gets it.
This is my favorite moment in Twister.
Now watch this Youtube video that takes the intro to Twister the Ride at Universal Studios and makes it even more hilarious.