7 iconic ’90s movie scenes that are loved by EVERYONE

90s was a great decade, wasn’t it?

Michalina Peruga

28 November 2022

What are the most iconic, beloved scenes from much-loved 90s movies? Here’s my choice.

Reservoir Dogs (1992) - Mr Blonde's dance

Quentin Tarantino’s feature-length debut is already a classic today, although it was considered controversial at the time of its release due to its drastic scenes of violence. Reservoir Dogs is the story of an unsuccessful robbery of a jewelry store, after which its participants with peculiar nicknames realize that one of them has leaked the robbery plan to the police. In one scene, one of the criminals, Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), tries to extract information from a police officer. Dancing to Stealers Wheel’s song Stuck in the Middle With You, he begins an elaborate torture, ending with policeman’s ear being cut off. Michael Madsen, who played the scene, recounted years later that he himself didn’t know how to approach the scene, with the script itself saying only: “Mr. Blond is dancing maniacally.” Madsen didn’t like to dance, and he never rehearsed the scene once.

The Lion King (1994) - Rafiki presents Simba.

There’s no shortage of iconic scenes in this landmark Disney film in the history of animation – just think of Timon, Pumbaa and Simba singing the song Hakuna Matata together, the Nazi-like march of Scar among the faithful hyenas, or the heartrending death of Mufasa. But there is no scene more iconic than the film’s opening scene – the sunset and the awakening animals heading to Pride Rock to pay homage to their king and meet their new prince to the rhythm of the memorable song Circle of Life (which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1994). The sequence culminates with a scene in which, to the delight of all the subjects, the baboon Rafiki, a shaman, sage and friend of the royal family, presents the heir to the throne by carrying him up from the top of Pride Rock.

Pulp Fiction (1994) - Mia and Vincent's dance.

Quentin Tarantino’s film makes its second appearance in this text, but I don’t think it will surprise anyone. Pulp Fiction is saturated with iconic quotes and scenes, and the most memorable is the dance scene between Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta). Vega, a mobster, has been instructed by his boss to entertain his wife for an evening. Vincent takes Mia to the Jack Rabbit Slim pub. Mia decides to have a milk shake and to take part in a dancing contest. Reluctant to the idea, however, Vincent eventually enters and dances a twist with Mia – this most iconic scene from Pulp Fiction is crowned with the couple being awarded a trophy.

Titanic (1997) - the scene at the bow

This is one of the scenes that made James Cameron’s film iconic. Coming from a wealthy family, Rose (Kate Winslet) rejects the advances of poor Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) because she is engaged to arrogant Cal (Billy Zane). The stiff and boring aristocratic company increasingly irritates the girl. She sneaks out of another of the boring meetings and goes out on deck, where she meets Jack at the bow. The boy tells her to climb onto the railing and close her eyes. Rose trusts Jack and allows herself to be held by him. “I’m flying,” she says to him, and her arms spread out in one of the most romantic scenes in cinema history.

The Ring (1998) - a ghost coming out of the TV set.

Hideo Nakata’s film transformed horror cinema and left its mark on American cinema, which in the first decade of the 21st century produced a number of remakes of the most popular Asian horror films, sowing fear in Western audiences of Japanese onryō ghosts – pale women with long black hair. The Ring tells the story of a cursed videotape that kills anyone who watches it. The scene in which Sadako Yamamura, a girl who is murdered and thrown into a well, emerges from the TV screen is one of the most iconic scenes in the history of horror cinema and certainly cinema of the 1990s.

American Beauty (1999) - Angela in Rose Petals

A red rose runs through virtually every scene of Sam Mendes’ film about bored, bitter Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey), who is going through a mid-life crisis. Carolyn (Annette Bening), Lester’s wife, tends the red rose bushes in their garden, and bouquets of roses often adorn their home, standing in vases in almost every scene. The rose, or rather its petals, appear in the film in symbolic scenes, being the fantasies of Lester infatuated with his teenage daughter’s friend Angela (Mena Suvari). Lester desperately dreams of having sex with the girl and imagines her naked, lying on rose petals. This iconic scene is emblematic of Lester’s idealized dream, which turns out to be a hoax, impossible to realize. When Lester and Angela have a chance for a close-up, a dazzle descends on the man – Angela is just an inexperienced and embarrassed teenager, and by having sex with her, he would only take advantage of her. Rose petals symbolize desire, but also the illusion of beauty, an unattainable dream.

The Matrix (1999) - red or blue pill?

It’s a famous, iconic scene that has made its way into everyday life – you don’t even need to know The Matrix to know what it’s about. Wanting to pull Neo (Keanu Reeves) out of the Matrix, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) offers him to take one of two pills – red or blue. The red one is a pill of knowledge, which will make Neo discover the truth about the world he lives in; the blue one is a pill of ignorance, which will make Neo return to his former slave life and never know that he is living a false life. “You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember, all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.” It’s a scene beloved by many, so much so that it has become the subject of numerous memes.

Michalina Peruga

Michalina Peruga

Film scholar, art historian and lover of contemporary horror cinema and classic Hollywood cinema, especially film noir and the work of Alfred Hitchcock. In cinema, she loves mixing genres, breaking patterns and looking closely at characters.

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