Saturday, February 2, 2013

Top 10 Movie Practice/Training Scenes

Daniel Coyle on practice: “Small actions, repeated over time, transform us.”  Here are my favorite movie scenes centered around the lessons and importance of practice.
Battered, bruised and imprisoned, Bruce Wayne has to find a way to climb his way to the top of a pit to escape.  The only other person to have done it and survive is the very person that had him imprisoned there.
In a bizarre scene, the father of an eleven year old girl shoots at her (while she’s wearing a bullet proof vest) at close range multiple times so she knows what it feels like and is prepared for the worst case scenario during crime fighting.  As bizarre and funny as the scene is, it demonstrates a valuable point about practice.
In 1979, when we weren’t cynical about the sport of cycling, this movie won an Academy Award for Best Screenplay.  There are a series of great scenes demonstrating the main character’s commitment to becoming a champion racer.  A short clip of him riding his bike on a treadmill, while eating in the rain on lunch break at work says it all.
#7 Glory
After one of Col. Robert Shaw’s troops demonstrates some sharp shooting at glass bottles on fence posts, he challenges the private to do it faster.   The Colonel proceeds to shout and then fire a weapon near the private’s ear while he tries to load and fire his weapon unsuccessfully.  The scene is powerful because it demonstrates the importance of practice under real world conditions.  This isn’t squirrel hunting; it’s war.  The colonel ends his demonstration with “Teach them properly, Major!”
When your cover and possibly your life are on the line, practice pays infinitely.  An uncover cop memorizes an antidote about a drug deal to help authenticate his character and criminal background.  Tarantino does a great job of demonstrating how his story telling gets better with practice.
#5 Rudy (athletic practice)
You can’t help but cheer for Rudy and the level of grit he brings to tryouts a practice.  If you can find people with a similar grit, join their team.
There’s nothing like a punishing practice, but this one is punishing and punishment.  After a poor showing in a hockey game (on the ice and on the bench as a team) against Norway, Coach Brooks proceeds to run a practice at their opponent’s arena immediately following the game.  This represents a turning point in the movie, where the team gets past their differences and recognizes the importance of team discipline when Mike Eruzione answers Coach Brook’s question of “Who do you play for?”  with “I play for the United States of America.”  Coach recognizes the turning point and ends the practice.
#3 Rudy (academic practice)
When people think of Rudy, they think about him being carried out on the shoulders of teammates.  I personally think the scenes of him studying and doing everything he can to get accepted into Notre Dame are as powerful in demonstrating his mental and not necessarily his physical grit.  In my opinion, the scene with him reading his acceptance letter is more powerful than his game ending tackle.
#2 Rocky
The movie Rocky may not have technically invented the “training montage” set to inspirational music, but it’s usually the first most people think about.  Scenes of Rocky using various methods of training culminate with a sprint up those now iconic stairs in Philadelphia.  The scene makes the statement that he’s ready to go the distance versus Apollo Creed.
Not surprisingly there is a large segment in this movie that depicts the main character’s tireless training to become the world’s most deadly assassin.  Sadly, I can relate to the scene where Beatrix Kiddo is so overcome with soreness from training she can’t even use shop sticks to eat a bowl of rice.  Her coach demands she use the chop sticks instead of her fingers.  It seem cruel, but he seem him glow with pride for the first time, when she manages a bite full using the chop sticks; a lesson that to be the best you must never take short cuts and never give up.  What really made this my top pick was how Tarantino set the training segment up.  With Beatrix trapped and buried alive in a coffin, she starts to panic.  But after collecting her thoughts and thinking back on her training (where we see the training she went through), she calmly unties herself and manages to escape under her own power.  This is one of my favorite motivating movie moments.

Too bad practice doesn't take the two to three hours it takes to watch in these movies.