When Conflict Still Leaves Space For Admiration
The efficiency of a movie’s plot depends on the relationships between characters, and the truer they are, the more engaged the audience will be. This, however, brings to a crossroad. On one hand, friendly relations build on love, compassion, and respect – on the other hand, conflicting relations rely instead on rivalry, challenge, but also… respect. Wait, how is that possible?
Simply put, respect implies recognizing someone’s qualities, but that someone could be anyone, even a mortal enemy. It’s a curious paradox with deep psychological implications. Respect requires subjectivity, as people may see themselves in one’s abilities, do the same thing, or act in the same way. But that leaves space to a huge deal of objectivity as well, since certain qualities are undeniable. So, no matter the nature of the relationship between the characters, respect is and will always be pure, as it fills the viewers with wholesomeness. It takes a big person to respect someone, especially when conflict is present. That said, filmmakers have blessed the crowds with some amazing cinematic moments of respect over the decades – here are some of the best ones!
5. Apollo Creed Isn’t A Sore Winner – Rocky II (1979)
The Rocky franchise has gifted moviegoers with some of the most influential sports dramas in cinematic history. Given the genre, there are many examples of respectful behavior from both the beloved protagonist and some of his opponents. However, the best moment comes from his archenemy/soon-to-be friend Apollo Creed, in one of the few intimate scenes the two characters share.
Rocky II (1979) picks up the story exactly where the first film’s heartwarming finale left off. The fight between Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) and Apollo (Carl Weathers) has just ended, and the latter has won on points. Still, Rocky’s loss can be ultimately considered a victory, as he held his ground with the heavyweight champion himself. The two are rushed to the hospital surrounded by the paparazzi, and Apollo doesn’t miss a chance to slam Rocky publicly, calling him lucky and claiming he could beat him anytime. However, that same night Rocky visits Apollo’s hospital room and asks him if he gave his best, to which Apollo sighs and candidly responds, “Yes.”
This scene has much more impact than it may seem and fleshes out Apollo’s character with just a single word. Creed is an over-the-top showman when the cameras are rolling, trash-talking his opponents as part of his on-stage persona. But when no one’s around, and it’s just Rocky and him talking, he shows his true colors of a classy and respectful champion. He could have easily kept his tough-guy façade but had enough integrity to give Rocky validation for enduring to the end, even with him giving his best.
4. Tony Stark Earned Thanos’ Respect – Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Avengers: Infinity War (2018) was one of the greatest cinematic experiences in recent memory. After ten years of build-up since the release of Iron Man (2008), the film was the crossover event everyone was waiting for, and most importantly, the one that introduced the audience to Thanos, the big villain that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was pointing toward.Although the movie is filled with amazing fights between the antagonist and our heroes, one, in particular, is worth mentioning for its sincere display of respect. At the end of the film’s second act, the group of superheroes led by fan-favorite Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), fights Thanos (Josh Brolin), who has collected four Infinity Stones up to this point. The villain soon proves to be way more powerful than they anticipated and neutralizes everyone rather quickly, until he clashes with Stark. While the action sequence is spectacular, Tony gets stabbed by the Mad Titan, who takes a moment to acknowledge his value.
Thanos puts his hand on Stark’s head, a little gesture that speaks volumes, then bends to look him right in the eye before proclaiming his respect for him and his hope that whoever survives the Snap (Thanos wiping out half of the universe’s life) will remember him. Thanos isn’t mocking him – he has nothing but respect for his opponent even though he carries a different ideology than he does. He admires such a small man being able to go one-on-one with him, and he’s just too determined on his mission to allow anyone to stop him.
3. Give Respect, Get Respect – John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)
The John Wick franchise has had an impressive run, to say the least. After the first film’s unexpected success in 2014, the series won the hearts of countless fans around the globe and culminated with this year’s John Wick – Chapter 4 dominating the box office. The action series follows protagonist John Wick (Keanu Reeves) clashing with all kinds of hitmen and assassins, and it provides numerous examples of brutal violence – but a good deal of respectful behavior as well.
That is particularly true in the third installment of the franchise, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, specifically in the fight with the Shinobi assassins (Cecep Arif Rahman and Yayan Ruhian) towards the movie’s end. The characters themselves are innovative–they have no personal reason to kill John Wick, as they were simply enlisted by the Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) to perform the task. Not only that, but at the beginning of the fight, they state how much of an honor it is for them to fight the Baba Yaga himself. They show their respect twice by not killing Wick when they easily could have and instead help him get back up.
This moment comes as a surprise, as every single opponent Wick has fought so far had the sole purpose of killing him. The Shinobi assassins, however, are huge fans of their target and don’t miss a chance to show it – you can see the admiration in their eyes when they are face-to-face with Wick, along with compliments on his skills. It’s heartwarming to see two highly trained, deadly assassins honoring their opponent, especially considering that the Shinobi code for assassinations prioritizes the mission’s success over any affection toward the target. This level of respect is matched by Wick, who, after knocking them down at the end of the fight, spares their lives as they did with his.
2. A Clash of Egos Develops Into Respect – Rush (2013)
No one was prepared for how great Ron Howard’s Rush (2013) was, and it’s rightfully considered a powerful, nerve-wracking entry in the sports drama genre to this day. Based on real-life events, the film focuses on the feud between Formula 1 racers Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) throughout their careers, presenting the audience with one of the greatest rivalries in cinematic history. Lauda and Hunt have not only different driving techniques but opposite life perspectives as well. Their clashing personalities keep them in contrast for the whole film, and the hatred they carry for each other is only implemented when, in the 1976 German Grand Prix, Hunt pressed for not canceling the race despite poor safety conditions (which led to Lauda’s tragic accident). However, Lauda and Hunt’s antagonism is a fine example of how the borders of rivalry and respect are often blurred, as they are linked by one simple thing – they both are amazing racers, and they know it. There’s a mutual respect fueled by the recognition of the other’s value as a racer, which pushes them to improve precisely because of their competitiveness.
This ambivalent relationship is shown multiple times during the film – Hunt beating a disrespectful journalist after Lauda’s accident or Lauda telling Hunt he’s equally responsible for his return. However, the highest point is reached during Lauda’s final monologue, which serves as an epilogue to the film. After an amicable confrontation during which they both express their philosophies, Lauda accepts their fundamental difference. As Hunt leaves on his private jet, Lauda states that his rival is not only among the few people he respects but also the only person he has ever envied.
1. Hobbits Bow To No One – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Every entry in this list featured a moment of respect between two characters that were either enemies or rivals, so this may come off as a surprise. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) needs no introduction, as it’s regarded as one of the most influential films of all time, other than a magnificent conclusion to Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth trilogy. While the saga sure has a lot of wholesome moments of respect, this one is by far the most powerful.
The scene in question is one of the epilogues of the film. After finally eliminating the threat of Sauron, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) is crowned king of Gondor, the greatest realm of Men in Middle Earth. The event is like no other, and everyone is attending it in Minas Tirith, the kingdom’s capital – Men, Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits. After chanting in honor of those who perished along the way, Aragorn finally reunites with elf princess Arwen (Liv Tyler). The newlywed couple takes a stroll amidst the guests until they come to the group of Hobbits formed by Frodo (Elijah Wood), Sam (Sean Astin), Merry (Dominic Monaghan), and Pippin (Billy Boyd). The Hobbits awkwardly bow to the new king, only to gently stop them as he bows to them, along with everyone else.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest scenes in the trilogy (which is really saying something!), this gesture speaks on behalf of not only Aragorn but all of Middle Earth. The King of Gondor acknowledges that if it weren’t for the Hobbits, the entire world would have been in ruin, and he pays his respects. Peter Jackson’s direction, paired with Howard Shore’s epic score, underlines the solemnity of the moment – the mightiest creatures and the noblest kings all bow to four small, apparently insignificant creatures who made the difference thanks to their persistence and pure hearts.
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Ofiicial Trialer 2003 New Line Cinema
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|Federico was born on July 20, 1998, in Trieste, Italy. Film enthusiast for as long as he can remember, he graduated in Philosophy at the University of Turin, and he's written, directed and acted in many amateur short films. His lifelong dream is to become a storyteller -- no matter the profession. He's currently planning his next steps to (hopefully) make this dream come true, always following and being true to his inner artistic voice.|