20 Most Powerful Film Images Of All Time

Those emotional moments we'll never forget.

Creating a powerful, indelible movie image is no easy feat, and most of the time it's not done deliberately, nor can it really be predicted. Though Hollywood likes to think they know exactly what audiences like, that's been proven wrong countless times, and far beyond their creators' wildest dreams, these 20 film images became ingrained in pop-culture history forever more as high-points of the medium. So, what creates a powerful film image? The criteria are diverse and numerous: to touch our hearts in a way we could never have imagined, to so perfectly summarise the journey the movie as a whole has taken audiences on, or to change the landscape of cinema as we know it. These 20 movies, with their flaws and faults, all brought something fresh and game-changing to the table: they all provoked our hearts and minds in various ways, and kept us both thinking and talking about each movie long after the credits rolled. But what we've also tried to discover are images that succeed in creating meaning even if you haven't seen the particular film, or perhaps aren't even aware that it's taken from a work of cinema. These images on their own manage to conjure up plenty of emotion, and therein lies their true power. Of course, power comes in a number of forms, and 20 images isn't nearly enough to cover the gamut of incredible cinematic images, so did we miss any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments!

20. Sgt. Elias Dies - Platoon

The most iconic scene from Oliver Stone's classic Vietnam war film has Sgt. Elias (Willem Dafoe) emerging from the jungle while being fired at by North Vietnamese soldiers. In absolute despair and unable to run anymore, he throws his hands up into the air as his comrades exit the area on a chopper, and he finally succumbs to his numerous injuries. On its own, this is a powerful image about the nature of war, not only of the loss and bloodshed inherent in any conflict, but the clear psychological torment and hopelessness that it ultimately invites. Whatever the war we might be fighting at any given time in the present, this visual has remained devastatingly relevant over the last three decades, and adorns the DVD cover for a good reason. Furthermore, the anonymous nature of the soldier only enhances the universal savagery of the image: we're not looking at Willem Dafoe in his final moments, we're looking at potentially any soldier on any battlefield the world over from any political stance, and that loss is never a good thing.

Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.