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Seven Iconic Shots of the Moon in the Movies (No, We’re Not Talking About Mooning)

Duncan Jones‘ directorial debut, Moon, stars Sam Rockwell as the unfortunate solitary employee of a lunar mining facility counting the hours until he can rejoin his family on Earth. Up close, Earth’s single, crater-pocked satellite rightfully represents loneliness and desolation, the perfect setting for Moon‘s exploration of the human psyche. But down here on Earth, the moon has held our fascination for decades, especially when it comes to the movies. (Who could forget that iconic shot of Cher jumping jubilantly in front of the moon on the poster for Moonstruck?) Come up with your own list of favorite iconic moon scenes from the movies, and then see how they stack up against the list below. What, you got something better to do? It’s Sunday!

1. Independence Day (1996)
There is nothing subtle about the summer shoot-’em-up alien-invasion blockbuster that was Independence Day.
The movie is all about heroic efforts, unfortunate sacrifice, and how
fetching Will Smith looks in a tank top. This is why the scenes that are
subtle by comparison are lingering… Like the foreboding one from the
first 90 seconds of the film, where the shadow of the mother ship
passes over the American flag on the moon, headed towards an
unsuspecting Earth. Shivers.

2. Apollo 13 (1995)
Ron Howard‘s
smash docudrama about the ill-fated Apollo 13 lunar mission was
successful not only because of the dramatic pull of the events that
played out therein, but also because of its wonderful characterizations
of the astronauts and their families. In particular, its wrenching
depiction of Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks)’s lifelong dream of becoming an
astronaut. His heartbreak is beautifully captured early in the movie
when Lovell stares up at the sky and tells his wife that he wants his
own moon landing — a dream that wasn’t meant to be.

3. Batman (1989)
Granted, Tim Burton’s treatment of Batman is campier than the recent Christopher Nolan
reboot, but it also allowed for lighter moments — such as the scene in
which the Batwing flies above the clouds and mimics the infamous Bat
Signal by flying in front of the moon. This was pitch-perfect levity to
balance the tense showdown between the Dark Knight and the Jack Nicholson’s villainous Joker.

4. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
As you well know, in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,
a lost alien befriends an improbably adorable boy named Elliott who helps
him phone home. Until that happens, Eliot tries to keep the lovably
ugly alien hidden from his parents and a gaggle of government bad guys
in silly hazmat suits. When the feds do close in, Elliott and E.T. escape
and, in one tense moment, E.T uses his powers of telekinesis to lift Elliott’s bicycle up into the sky, their profiles backlit by the moon.
This is the precise point when the movie goes from pedestrian to

5. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Cinematic scifi was widely considered to be schlock entertainment right
up until the first note of Richard Strauss’ “Zarathustra” in the
opening credits of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Accompanying that wakeup call is a scene that perfectly lines up Earth,
Moon and Sun in one of the most famous opening title sequences ever.

6. Peter Pan (1953)
version of this beloved classic is the hallmark of its early
ground-breaking animation success. And what better subject to attract
adult audiences to cartoons than a film about finding one’s inner
pre-adolescent? Peter Pan may be the child who never grew up, but he
also shows us that those of us who do need
not feel old — a point carried away in the final moments of the film
when we see the flying pirate ship pass in front of the moon.

7. A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage Dans la Lune, 1902)
French cinema legend Georges Méliès
pioneered the use of special effects in movies over a century ago,
owing much of his vision to his love for stage illusions. His most
notable film is Le Voyage Dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon),
which includes the famous scene of a rocket lodged in the eye of “the
man in the moon,” in which an actor reacts to the wound behind mock
space scenery. The weirdest part? The movie isn’t as unintentionally
hilarious as you’d expect. It’s still very, very cool.

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