Watch: A Video Essay on Setpieces Throughout Film History

Watch: A Video Essay on Setpieces Throughout Film History

Screenwriter John August describes a setpiece as "a scene or sequence
with escalated stakes and production values, as appropriate to the
genre… Done right, set-pieces are moments you remember weeks after
seeing a movie." Proper setpieces should serve as spikes within the
plotline. In contemporary cinema, a setpiece can range from an edgy gag
in a romantic comedy, to a multi-million dollar CGI-infused battle
scene in an action film. Regardless, a setpiece always seems to be
"that scene" when discussing movies. Here is a look at some of the
biggest, priciest, and most recognizable setpieces in cinema.

List of Films (in order of appearance):

There Will be Blood

The Dark Knight Rises

Die Hard

Django Unchained


The Matrix


Apocalypse Now

North by Northwest

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Spider-Man 2

Kill Bill Vol. 1


The Dark Knight

The Lone Ranger

Guardians of the Galaxy

Terminator 2: Judgment Day


The Wolf of Wall Street


Children of Men

The Matrix Reloaded

Mission Impossible

Scarface (1983)


Jurassic Park


King Kong (2005)

Man of Steel

The Avengers

Inglourious Basterds

Gangs of New York

World War Z

True Lies

Batman Begins

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Stand by Me

Super 8

Godzilla (2014)

Star Wars


The Perfect Storm

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King


The Shining

Psycho (1960)

Taxi Driver

The Shawshank Redemption


Music: "Mind Heist" by Zack Hemsey

Jacob Swinney is an industrious film editor and filmmaker, as well as a recent graduate of Salisbury University.

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