Everyone loves a good bang. But while we wouldn’t want an ear-punishing explosion in a Woody Allen or Jane Campion movie, we do want them from our action flicks. So here’s our list of the best explosions in movie history… Get ready to put your fingers in your ears...
A perfect example of when something truly terrible can be made to look truly beautiful. In the final moments of David Fincher’s zeitgeist-rocking cult fave, Edward Norton’s unnamed character stands with Helena Bonham Carter’s Marla Singer as the city is floored around them, to the sounds of The Pixies’ 'Where Is My Mind?'.
V for Vendetta
In 1605 Guy Fawkes attempted, and failed, to blow up the Houses of Parliament. But in the late 2020s a man known only as V finally succeeded, a last desperate attack on a repressive fascist government. The final moments of V for Vendetta has Parliament being blown to smithereens as bombs roar through the centuries-old building, sending fireworks into the air.
Forget the nitroglycerin porn of the more recent Die Hard movies; they were better off when they had fewer explosions. The very first Die Hard is still the best, and the scene when John McClane sets off a series of bombs on top of the Nakatomi Tower is the movie’s most dramatic moment…
Independence Day is a movie built on bangs. A flying saucer blowing New York off the map? Tick. Washington’s Capitol Building obliterated? Tick. But nothing compares to the movie’s money shot when The White House is blasted out of existence by an alien spaceship.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Nuclear blasts may be horrific to consider in real life, but they make for the best movie explosions. When, in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Sarah Connor falls asleep, she dreams of watching herself with baby John, before a nuclear bomb erupts, flattening everything in its wake and blasting the skin off her bones. Nice.
The making of Apocalypse Now was almost as mad as the war it was dramatising. It cost a then staggering $31 million when it shot in 1976, and the filming was so chaotic that a movie was made about the making of the movie. So when you see explosions in Apocalypse Now, they’re real explosions, and none are better that the bangs around Robert Duvall’s nail-tough (and aptly named) Colonel Kilgore. "I love the smell of napalm in the morning…"
There are two big bangs in Star Wars – when Princess Leia’s home world, Alderaan, is blown up, and when the Death Star explodes. We can’t decide which one is our favourite...
You remember the big explosion towards the end of SPECTRE, as Bond and Madeleine Swann escape from Blofeld’s lair? Well, did you know it set the Guinness world record for the world's largest film stunt explosion ever? It was staged in Erfoud, Morocco, using 8,418 litres of kerosene with 33 kg of powder explosives, about 68.47 tonnes of TNT equivalent. Wowzers!
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Okay, so the idea of Indiana Jones surviving a nuclear blast by hiding in a lead-lined fridge is one of the most epically ludicrous movie moments of all time, but let that not detract from the fact that the explosion is brilliantly staged and it gives us one of the movie’s most enduring shots, of Indy stood in front of a nuclear mushroom cloud.
Not the biggest explosion on the list, but certainly the most cathartic. At the end of the film, Police Chief Martin Brody stuffs a pressurised scuba tank into the shark's mouth, and, climbing the mast, shoots the tank with Quint's rifle. BANG! And it’s goodbye Jaws.
Expect to see and hear more big screen explosions when Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens on 15th December.