A storm is coming

In His Last Bow, one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, there’s a scene that I particularly enjoyed.

At the end Holmes addresses his good friend Dr. Watson with these words, “There’s an east wind coming, Watson.”

To which Watson replies, “I think not, Holmes. It is very warm.”

And Holmes concludes with, “Good old Watson! You are the one fixed point in a changing age. There’s an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it’s God’s own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared. Start her up, Watson, for it’s time that we were on our way. I have a check for five hundred pounds which should be cashed early, for the drawer is quite capable of stopping it if he can.”

The story is set in 1914, on the eve of the First World War, and it adds an ominous tone to the century that brought a wave of technology and innovation, but ultimately destroyed the lives of many during two conflagrations.

In the movie Sherlock Holmes they use this line at the end, but change it a bit. “A storm is coming,” says Sherlock Holmes as an actual storm is sluggishly settling over London. To be honest, that scene gave me the chills. It was a beautiful reference to both Doyle’s short stories and to the War itself.

Another personal favorite is a scene from The Great Gatsby.

"Recovering himself in a minute he opened for us two hulking patent
cabinets which held his massed suits and dressing-gowns and ties, and
his shirts, piled like bricks in stacks a dozen high.

"I've got a man in England who buys me clothes. He sends over a selection
of things at the beginning of each season, spring and fall."

He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one
before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel
which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in
many-colored disarray. While we admired he brought more and the soft
rich heap mounted higher--shirts with stripes and scrolls and plaids in
coral and apple-green and lavender and faint orange with monograms of
Indian blue. Suddenly with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into
the shirts and began to cry stormily.

"They're such beautiful shirts," she sobbed, her voice muffled in the
thick folds. "It makes me sad because I've never seen such--such beautiful
shirts before."

Some scenes stick with us for no apparent reason. We don’t know why, but we love them. What is your favorite scene?


26 thoughts on “A storm is coming

  1. At first thought, my favorite scene from a movie is from a more modern film called “Like Water for Chocolate”, or “Como Agua Para Chocolata”. It is Mexican film where the character Tita is the youngest daughter, and is therefore destined to take care of her mother until her mother passes. She falls in love with a boy, but she cannot marry or have children. Her mother is her child. Instead, the boy she falls in love with marries her sister just to be near Tita. My favorite scene is a spoiler, so I won’t tell you details. It’s the last scene of the film. If I told you, you wouldn’t be inspired to watch it! It is one of the most beautiful, heartfelt, poignantly human films I have ever seen.


  2. This might sound silly, but I love the final speech Rutger Hauer’s character does, towards the end of Blade Runner. It makes me sob every time, and the hairs stand up on my neck. Apparently Hauer adlibbed most of it!


    • That chilling scene was originally scripted, but Hauer didn’t like it and asked if he could change it. He tweaked several of the phrases and added the iconic ‘Tears in rain’himself on the day.


      • Thank you! I had a vague idea, at least it was leaning in the right direction. I think the scene is superb, with its deep malice, and yet you end up empathising with Hauer. And in my case, sob!!


  3. There is another blowing as well. This one will birth new imperfect empires and throw old ones to the ground, ones we thought impervious to the whimsy of fate. Technology is blurring borders; global commerce has made everyone dependent on just a few of the old empires, and the vast disparity between nations and people grows even as the isolation of one from the other diminishes. I think we have tumultuous times ahead.


  4. Great scene with Sherlock and Watson! One of my favorites, and I don’t remember if it is duplicated in the novels, is the end of ‘Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World’ with Russel Crowe and Paul Bettany as Captain Aubrey and Doctor Maturin.

    At the end of the film, the Aubrey and Maturin are sitting together discussing plans to return to the Galapagos islands in the ‘Surprise’ (their ship). When, during the course of their discussion they discover that the captain of the ‘Acheron’, (a vessel they had just captured and sent with a skeleton crew to a safe harbor) was pretending to be dead and had disguised himself as the doctor of the Acheron instead.

    Presumably this means that the captain of the Acheron means to retake the ‘Acheron’ once safely away from the ‘Surprise’. Aubrey calls one of his Lieutenants to give the order to chase the Acheron. The lieutenant pops his head in the door, upon receiving the order (with no explanation given) the look on his face is priceless.

    In fact all of the interactions are so subtle and full of meaning, it is awesome. But having read the books increases that understanding enormously
    A short clip of the ending to the film..


  5. ‘The Terminal’ Love the movie, and the parody it makes of our bureaucracy, favourite is the scene where Tom Hanks collects carts and gets coins. ‘Piano Man’, playing soundlessly in the war. ‘Schindler’s List’ the end of the story where he regrets spending money on clothes and luxury, ‘this is one more person’…


  6. The final scene from ‘The Terminator’, where the Mexican boy takes Sarah Connor’s picture, then looks at the distant horizon and comments ‘There’s a storm coming.’
    Sara touches her as-yet unborn son in her belly, knowing the apocalypse will turn him into the leader of mankind, and whispers ‘I know.’


  7. The end of Godfather, where after the other mafiosos have been slaughtered, Michael Corleone’s people come into his office and kiss his ring one by one. The look on Kay’s face when she realizes he lied to her and what she’s in for being married to such a ruthless person is amazing. Particularly since no words are exchanged!


  8. The Holmes story was written during the First World War as a sort of morale-booster with the brave and clever Englishman outwitting the Germans, but Conan Doyle knew how terrible the war was. His own son was killed as was the son of another hugely popular writer of the time, Rudyard Kipling. But suggestions that the politicians responsible for taking Britain into the war should have fought it themselves were unfair: they were too old, except Winston Churchill, who did enlist after his favourite scheme had proved a costly failure, but many lost sons including the Prime Minister, Asquith, and his successor LLoyd George had two sons at the front.

    Favourite scenes? In films: two parts of “The Magnificent Seven”, both notable for beautifully sparse, dry dialogue – the two gunmen taking over the hearse to make sure the dead Indian is properly buried (“Ain’t never ridden shotgun on a hearse before,” says Steve McQueen, his watchful eyes not ceasing to scan for danger; and the Robert Vaughn character turning up to join Yul Brynner’s band: Brynner: “Ah thought you was looking for the ??? brothers.” Vaughn: “Ah found them.”

    The scene in “Local Hero” where the American oilmen go to see the local church minister in the remote Scottish village to see if he can influence the locals to accept their plan for an oil terminal, and he turns out to be not the figure they no doubt expected, but a booming-voiced, barrel-chested African. Also the scene where one oilman has nearly been run over by a youth on a motorbike every time he steps out of his hotel, till one time he leaves the hotel, hurries across the road, reaches the fishermen he wants to talk to, and just as you’re wondering why the bike didn’t appear – there it goes by.

    In books? The ending of William Golding’s “Pincher Martin”: where the official arriving to deal with the corpse of a Second World War seaman washed up on the beach reassures the finder that the man didn’t suffer: “He didn’t even have time to get his seaboots off.” At that point we realise that almost the whole of the novel, in which a naval officer thrown from a torpedoed ship struggles to survive on a tiny island, has only happened in the surviving consciousness of the dead man.

    The scene at the start of G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown detective story “The Sign of the Broken Sword”, for its vivid description of two men visiting a monument on a bitterly cold night.

    The scene in Iris Murdoch’s “The Bell” when the old, lost bell begins to chime.


  9. Almost any scene from “To Kill a Mockingbird,” but especially the end of the trial when all the observers in the gallery stand up to honor Atticus Finch even though he lost the case.


  10. Many scenes come to mind, including the Gatsby scene you described (likely on account of my recent re-watching of the film). Another is a chapter in Silver Linings Playbook which is a montage – yes, a montage on the page. It describes the character’s attempts to make himself better in this mixed sports-and-movie language he’s adopted as a coping mechanism. It’s some of the most poignant and spot-on writing from and about living through a traumatic experience that I’ve ever read.

    Another is the moment in The Giver when the apple is thrown in the air and it’s red. That’s when you realize, as the reader, there’s something quite wrong about this place – that you’ve been seeing it all wrong.


  11. There’s a scene in “To Kill a Mockingbird” that I adore, so I’ll try to tell you about it without spoiling the book for people who haven’t read it yet. ;-)

    There’s a part where Atticus and Calpurnia go to visit Tom Robinson’s wife Helen. While they are standing in her yard waiting for her to come in from the field she works in, a little girl, probably two or three years old, steps out of Helen’s house and, recognizing Calpurnia, smiles at her and Atticus. She tries to walk over to them, but the house’s front steps were too steep for her. Then, Atticus takes off his hat, walks over to the little girl, and gives her his hand so he can help her down the steps.

    To me, that’s the sweetest scene in the whole book because by doing that, Atticus shows that it doesn’t matter to him that this girl is black and poor and far younger than him: he still treats her like a lady. Just that scene alone is enough to make me love him!


  12. My favorite scene is from David James Duncan’s book “The Brothers K”. It takes place at the very beginning of the book in the first two pages. The writing and the imagery it creates, takes my breath away (and makes me envious of his ability to write). In the scene, a young boy lays on his father’s lap while the father reads the newspaper and smokes a cigarette. Simultaneously, the next door neighbor is burning a pile of leaves. It’s a simple moment, but the boy is observing them at the same time using all his senses. Because the scene is so corporeal, it is all the more abrupt to the boy and the reader when it ends.


  13. Kafka journeying through the forest of his-self in Murakami’s Kafka on the shore. He eventually realizes that the entrance stone is always available when he chooses to leave the forest, and also that he can return to the forest if he isn’t careful.

    Hassan dutifully serving Amir like when they were children when he returns to Afghanistan out of love, and Amir still thinking about guilt from their childhood instead of appreciating his service.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh, I am such a fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories and I well remember this scene. It’s wonderful. I can almost hear Holmes saying these lines.
    I read so much and watch so many movies that I have no ‘one’ favorite. But I do love the scene in “To Kill a Mockingbird” (probably one of the most perfect stories ever) where Atticus shoots the rabid dog and his children are astounded. It’s well done in the novel as well as in the movie. Another scene I enjoy in literature is the riddling between Bilbo Baggins and Gollum in the cave. Literature is so full of people and settings to enjoy. Thanks for this post. I saw you had recently like a post on my blog, so I thought I’d stop by. Following will be a pleasure.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.