Rain – the soothing sound that lulls us to sleep or the raging downpour that frightens cats and children. Except for the desert, rain is a world-washing constant everywhere, especially England and Seattle, and thus makes for popular movie weather. It can be a symbol of rebirth, a mere annoyance, a passionate setting for a wet kiss, or a dramatic backdrop for a climactic fight. With so many examples of precipitation to choose from and because it’s rained a lot lately where I live, I’ve made up my own list of twelve favorite moments caught in the rain.
(These are only for movies I’ve actually seen all the way through, so apologies to anyone missing famous scenes from Road to Perdition, Say Anything, Magnolia, Garden State, Unforgiven, and Blade Runner. Feel free to suggest any others I missed.) Here goes….
- The Truman Show (1998)
Have you ever felt like there’s a rain cloud hovering over your head, raining only on you? Probably not as literally as Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey), who experiences such a technical malfunction in his reality show life.
- Cast Away (2000)
The waterworks don’t just come from the sky when Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) finally escapes his island and finds his girlfriend (Helen Hunt) remarried. They reunite in the driving rain, yet both know that the past is as unchangeable as the weather.
For all the flak that the Star Wars prequels get, they do boast some of the best action sequences around. For instance, when Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) visits a water-covered storm planet in search of a certain bounty hunter, he finds the perp as well as a thrilling scuffle on the landing platform.
- The Garden of Words (2013)
Rain plays a prominent role in Makoto Shinkai’s slow but exquisitely animated The Garden of Words. A high school student and an older woman meet by chance during rainy mornings, and since both are lonely and in need of support, they begin hoping for rain to again bring them together.
- Holes (2003)
Spoiler warning, I suppose. After being sent to Camp Green Lake, “a magical place where it never rains,” Stanley (Shia LaBeouf) endures manual labor and uncovers his own past and that of the lake, leading to a climactic curse reversal.
- Jurassic Park (1993)
How many times have you seen someone eaten off a toilet in the rain? At least once, I’d bet. Our first introduction to the T. Rex is made all the more memorable by the pouring rain that makes its entrance even scarier. Not to mention, the Dilophosaurus attack on Wayne Knight happens in the same rainstorm.
- Seven Samurai (1954)
Akira Kurosawa definitely loved rain in his movies. There’s the beginning and end of Rashomon, for instance, and it’s never just a shower but a full-on atmospheric assault. Speaking of assault, the final battle between his seven samurai and the attacking bandits occurs in a raging storm, distinguishing it as an even more impressive feat of classic cinematic warfare.
- The Notebook (2004)
Sure, Nicholas Sparks movies tend to be sappy and formulaic, but romance is romance. The Notebook is certainly a flawed story, but that passionate kiss in the rain is among the most iconic scenes of modern romance.
- Spider-Man (2001)
Speaking of iconic passionate kisses in the rain, Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson share a uniquely inverted smooch after he saves her from some thugs. I’ve heard Tobey Macguire could hardly breath while filming, but the end result was worth it (says this uninvolved viewer). The Andrew Garfield movies never had anything this good.
Of all the battles in the rain (and there are many), none is as awesomely epic as the siege of Helm’s Deep in the second Lord of the Rings movie. With their trapped forces hopelessly outnumbered by the approaching Uruk-hai, Aragorn and the men of Rohan just can’t catch a break, and it starts raining even without someone saying “It can’t get any worse, can it?” It pours through the entire night, a wet and messy melee of good against evil.
- The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
After crawling through a sewage pipe to escape Shawshank Prison, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) could use a good shower, and the rain that aided his escape acts as a symbolic cleansing from all the dirty deeds he did and saw behind bars. Such a powerful scene!
- Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
When it comes to famous scenes in the rain, nothing can compare with Gene Kelly’s marvelous musical number to the title song. Even though he was sick with a fever at the time, Kelly joyously splashes through puddles and revels in the sheer joy of wet contentment. Who needs an umbrella when you have love, right?
Runners-Up (as you can see, it was tough narrowing the list to twelve):
A Bug’s Life – The rainy season can be a big problem when you’re as small as an insect.
Aliens – It’s pouring when Ripley and the Marines land on LV-426.
Back to the Future Part II – It’s pouring when Marty gets a 70-year-old telegram from Doc and actually tries to read it as it gets soaked.
Bee Movie – Rain and insects again – you get the picture.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s – It’s pouring during the touching final scene. Animal cruelty is rarely this romantic.
Beauty and the Beast – It’s pouring during Gaston’s confrontation with the Beast.
The Day after Tomorrow – It’s pouring (and I mean pouring!) when New York is swallowed by a massive tidal wave.
Forrest Gump – “One day, it started raining, and it didn’t quit for four months. We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin’ rain… and big ol’ fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath. Shoot, it even rained at night.”
The Goodbye Girl – It’s pouring when Richard Dreyfuss is in the phone booth.
The Hunger Games – It’s pouring when Peeta throws some bread to a starving Katniss.
Inception – It’s pouring when Cobb and his team first enter Fischer’s dream world.
Jumanji – It’s pouring even inside houses, thanks to that board game.
Les Miserables (2012) – It’s pouring at the beginning when Valjean and the other prisoners are hauling in a ship.
The Matrix Revolutions – It’s pouring during Neo’s climactic fight with Smith.
Midnight in Paris – Gil prefers women who don’t mind getting wet since after all, “Paris is the most beautiful in the rain.”
My Neighbor Totoro – Not the biggest fan of this movie, but I do love certain scenes, like the picture at the top.
Noah – Forty days and forty nights – that’s a lot of rain.
The Outsiders – It’s pouring when the Greasers and the Socs have their big rumble.
The Perfect Storm – It’s in the name.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – It’s pouring during the huge whirlpool battle.
Poltergeist – It’s pouring when corpses appear in the swimming pool. Seriously scary.
The Quiet Man – It’s pouring when John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara share a kiss in the cemetery.
Raising Arizona – It’s pouring when the Snoats brothers dig out of prison, pre-Shawshank. AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Rashomon – It’s pouring during the entire frame story.
Shadowlands – It’s pouring when C.S. Lewis and Joy visit the Golden Valley, which is more wet than golden.
Tarzan – It’s pouring during yet another Disney villain fight.
Thor – It’s pouring during Thor’s free-for-all with S.H.I.E.L.D.
Time of Eve – It’s pouring during a silent example of robot prejudice.
Wolf Children – It’s pouring both at the end and during the traumatic moment when Hana realizes she’s on her own.
Wuthering Heights – It’s pouring when Heathcliff departs and Cathy runs out on the moor after him.
I can’t tell you how much this Raising Arizona scene in reverse made me laugh. You’re welcome. 😀