12 Great Firework Scenes in Movies: Bonfire Night Celebration
“Remember, remember the Fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot.”
This week in the UK we will be celebrating Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night. Like many celebrations it started with a strong message, one of royalty survival and the treasonous plot to overthrow the government, and has now become much more of a social event for families. We gather around a giant bonfire, enjoy jacket potatoes and parkin cake, then set off grand displays of fireworks whilst oohing and aahing throughout. To celebrate this tradition of roaring fires and vibrant explosions here are 12 Great Firework Scenes in Movies.
Warning for some film spoilers here.
Mary Poppins (1964)
With it’s incredible mix of live action and traditional Disney animations, Mary Poppins is a spectacular movie. The Banks’ neighbours, Admiral Boom and Mr. Binnacle, seems to confuse the chimney sweeps rousing performance of ‘Step in Time’ with an attack and begins to fire back. They use their cannons to shoot fireworks over at the group. Each explosion is a pop of animated colour and combines the great styles of Disney in a beautifully vibrant show.
It was the summer of ‘79 when a group of young friends, whilst filming a zombie movie, witnessed a train derailment that would change their lives forever. Our group consists of Joe, Charles, Preston, Martin, Alice and fire lover Cary. Whilst attempting to rescue Alice from an alien creature, Joe asks Cary to use his beloved fireworks to cause a distraction. As Joe runs down the dark tunnels with a festive sparkler in hand, Cary gets to work setting the bundle aflame. It may not be the most intense fireworks display on this list, but it saves their friend which is what counts.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
Of course Baz Lurnam was going to bring the grandiose aesthetics of the Roaring 20’s to screen in all it’s glory when he directed The Great Gatsby. Nick is personally invited to one of Gatsby’s grand parties, a distinct honour as most others simply show up of their own accord, and spend his night chasing the shadow of the illustrious man. Gatsby’s reveal is one of pure grandstanding epic proportions as he raises a glass at the peak of the score and is showered in eruptions of fireworks. It’s bold, it’s cheesy, it’s drenched in sparkles, which makes it completely Lurnam. Now there’s how you make an entrance, old sport.
Disney’s Mulan culminates in an epic battle involving cross-dressing, sword play and some stunning explosions. After Shan Yu and the Huns attack the Emperor at a celebration ceremony Mulan, Shang, Yao, Ling, Chein-Po, and Mushu must fight back to save China. Mulan spars with Shan Yu and pins him to the roof of the palace and Mushu fires a giant rocket at him, blowing him away and dazzling the crowd with a fireworks display. It is beautifully animated and the perfect celebration of Mulan’s victory.
Final Destination 3 (2006)
The Final Destination franchise has been filling it’s audience with dread at everyday objects and events for a long time. Because of this franchise I will never get in a lay down tanning bed, I always check my laces before getting on an escalator and I keep far back when driving behind wagon’s with construction materials on the back. In Final Destination 3 a fireworks display at the colonial fair, and some teens with firecrackers, manage to spook a horse whose ropes get caught around Julie’s neck and drag her across the field. Luckily she is cut free, but Perry is not so well fated, getting impaled by a flag pole flung by the horse. Then comes the explosive finale with a falling sign crushing on the poor cursed souls. Just a reminder everyone, Horses + Fireworks = Disaster.
To Catch a Thief (1955)
Ah, the Golden Era of Hollywood, when the Hays Code meant that everything had to be subtly suggested and innuendo was the only way. In To Catch a Thief, Hitchcock skillfully cuts between the Riviera’s lively fireworks display and the suggestive conversation between Frances and John. Cary Grant and Grace Kelly simmer gently, lacing the conversation with wanting, whilst outside the window the world explodes into colour. With his signature rising score everything unsaid by the couple is clearly shown to us in the visuals of Pure Cinema.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
Everyone loved dancing Groot in the end credits of Guardians of the Galaxy so it made sense to dedicate an entire scene to him at the opening of the sequel. There’s colourful explosions aplenty, which give the illusion of fireworks but that is not the scene we are discussing on this list. The scene we are honouring is much more emotional. After sacrificing himself for Peter, Yondu is granted an official Ravager funeral, fireworks and all. It’s a stunning display that hits with awe and sadness in equal measure. Yondu ‘Mary Poppins’ Udonta gets the celebration of his life that he deserved and it’s heartbreakingly beautiful.
A Quiet Place (2018)
In a film revolving around silence you wouldn’t expect an explosive fireworks scene. However, this is all part of a meticulous plan set out by the Abbot family to allow Evelyn to give birth whilst being safe from the creatures that sense noise. The scene itself is incredibly tense with Evelyn making her way to the bathtub, trying desperately to be silent through the pain, as the creatures roam the house. Luckily, their son Marcus sets off the fireworks allowing Evelyn to scream through the pain and give birth. The loud explosions are intense against the backdrop of a film so quiet throughout most of its runtime.
Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
In the bayou town called The Bathtub, a place cut off from the rest of the world by sprawling water and a levee, six year old Hushpuppy and her father Wink live a unique life of homemade houses, magic creatures and community spirit. Hushpuppy sees her home as “prettiest place on earth” which it definitely is during the opening party scene. The people of The Bathtub celebrate with bright firework cannons, homemade booze and uplifting Cajun music. It is one of the most stunning cinematic scenes from an indie film with the camera immersing the viewer into the natural world and all its vibrant wonders. The joy is palpable and it sells The Bathtub as somewhere of beauty and happiness.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Nobody likes exams, but everybody loves Fred and George Weasley! Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix saw the franchises most heinous villain terrorising the students of Hogwarts, and no I most definitely don’t mean old ‘no nose’ Voldermort. I’m talking about Dolores Umbridge, the devil in a pink dress. During an O.W.Ls exam the Weasley twins rain down fireworks and from above before chasing Umbridge with a flaming dragon that leaves her charred and humiliated. It’s nothing less than expected from these two pranksters and is perfect revenge on the totalitarian dictator of a principal Umbridge is. We all cheer along with the students at this one.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Bilbo Baggins is celebrating his 111th birthday in style. A huge party is held at the Shire with traditional Celtic music, dancing and a feast to fill even a Hobbit’s belly. The ale is flowing and Gandalf is putting on a spectacular fireworks display that only a wizard could be capable of. Unfortunately the troublemakers, Pippin and Merry, are not quite as skilled as they set off the biggest firework they can find. It’s a grande finale explosion in the form of a dragon that rips through the party terrifying and then delighting the guests as it erupts into a spectacular display. It truly was “a night to remember.”
V for Vendetta (2005)
In the ultimate homage to Guy Fawkes, V for Vendetta is an adaptation of an Alan Moore graphic novel, set in a dystopian future where the UK is run by a totalitarian regime. V, an anarchist freedom fighter clad in a Guy Fawkes mask aims to overthrow the government with a gunpowder plot. In the climactic scene a sea of faces all wearing the Fawkes mask approach the parliament building and watch as it explodes to the sound of Tchaikovsky’s Overture in an arresting display of spirit and victory. The whole display ends with red fireworks forming a ‘V’ in honour of the man who fought back. As the people in the crowd remove their masks we see solidarity, freedom and victory in this stunning finale.