The drive that makes a cult classic

Directors often use scenes inside cars to create thrilling atmospheres. Kaleem Aftab looks at some of the best backseat movie moments

The extraordinary Holy Motors from maverick French director Leos Carax stars Denis Lavant as the mysterious Monsieur Oscar, who in the course of a single day is driven around Paris in a limousine by his chauffeur Celine, fulfilling appointments dressed in a variety of different guises, including an old beggar woman, an assassin, a father and a violent monster who kidnaps supermodels. The one constant is that between each appointment he uses the elongated backseat as a makeshift changing room.

Earlier this year, we saw Robert Pattinson similarly ride around New York in a limo in David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis. Juliette Binoche grabs a lift in one particularly memorable scene. Scenes in cars, as opposed to the usually elongated car chases, have made up some of the most memorable moments of movie history.

Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami is a master of the art: his film Ten was made up entirely of characters chatting in cars, and it's a theme he carries on with his new film, the Tokyo-set drama Like Someone in Love.

Kiarostami says that conversations in cars are great because, "I think that it's a very private and intimate place for dialogue… and you can just keep quiet also."

The following list gives credence to Kiarostami's words.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

There are two great car scenes in Quentin Tarantino's pulp noir. One demonstrates Tarantino's excellence at writing quotable dialogue out of seemingly mundane conversations. Vincent Vega (John Travolta) explains to Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) the differences between Europe and the US, buying beers at the cinema in Amsterdam and why a quarter-pounder is called a Royale with Cheese in France. The second and best car scene shows Tarantino's skill at making graphic violence funny. Vega and Jules are driving their friend Marvin to a rendezvous when, out of the blue, Vega accidentally shoots Marvin in the face and then tries to excuse himself by accusing Jules of driving over a speed bump.

Crash (1996)

Cosmopolis director David Cronenberg has some previous when it comes to car scenes. In adapting J.G Ballard's novel he filmed some of the most controversial sex scenes committed to celluloid, and unsurprisingly in a tale about people getting turned on by car crashes there are several noteworthy car-sex scenes. But it's the sequence in which James Spader explores the wounds of Rosanna Arquette that are the most eerie and memorable.

Thelma and Louise (1991)

One of the all-time great road movies ends with a conversation between Thelma and Louise (above) where they decide to drive into the Grand Canyon in a scene that should be depressing but is surprisingly upbeat. Refusing to get caught, they hold hands while driving to near-certain death.

Night on Earth (1991)

Taxis are as popular as limousines in movies and this Jim Jarmusch film takes place in five different taxis around the globe. It's mostly disappointing apart from one very funny sequence that sees Roberto Benigni play a taxi driver who picks up a priest in Rome and wants to confess his sins.

Drive (2011)

While car chases have been banned from the list, this one is different in that Nicolas Winding Refn shoots the getaway sequence from the inside of the car. For the most part it's an example of brain power over horsepower as Ryan Gosling uses a local sports game to get lost in the crowds and escape the pursuing police.

Se7en (1995)

Towards the end of David Fincher's serial killer movie, detectives are driving John Doe to what he claims is the location of his final victim and on route they all get into a heated discussion about the nature of good and evil. One of Kevin Spacey's best-ever scenes.

Blues Brothers (1980)

Surprisingly, the best car moment of this film doesn't involve the brothers on a "mission from God" but their Nazi enemies. A city chase sequence ends with the Nazis literally reaching the end of the road and, as they fly in slo-mo at an impossible height over the city skyline, one turns to the other and says, "I've always loved you."

Wayne's World (1992)

Mike Myers started a whole host of copycat singing in the car sequences after this moment where he and his best friends drive through town singing and headbanging to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.

Taxi Driver (1976)

Robert De Niro takes a job as a taxi driver and, as he picks up passengers, gives a depiction of New York at it's crime-ridden, inner-city nadir at the end of the 1970s. But the best moment is from the director himself. Martin Scorsese has a cameo as a husband spying on his cheating wife from the cab.

La Dolce Vita (1960)

Marcello Mastroianni seems to spend the whole movie in his 1958 Triumph convertible driving a bevvy of beauties through the streets of Rome. The big moment is when Marcello Rubini finally tells his depressed girlfriend Emma that she is suffocating him, and after an argument and some protestation she jumps out of the side of the car. The next scene sees him picking her up at dawn, which says more about their relationship than an hour's worth of dialogue ever could.

Every Which Way But Loose (1978)

Clint Eastwood's plays a truck driver whose sidekick is an orangutan named Clyde. The animal is also his confidant, and one particularly funny conversation sees Eastwood try to bounce his thoughts off Clyde, with the orangutan's facial expressions providing the perfect responses.

'Holy Motors' is out on 28 September

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam