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Five Explosive Fireworks Scenes To Get You Ready For The Fourth

By Steven Pate in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 3, 2012 6:00PM


Americans have been setting off fireworks to commemorate their independence since 1777. Thirteen rockets were launched into the Philadelphia sky, and an annual tradition initiated. Personally we like our fireworks in person and bright enough to play baseball by, but note that fireworks have been creating dramatic backdrops for filmed entertainment for as long as movies have been around.

Fake fireworks on film have come a long way since Mary Poppins taught kids all kinds of poor lessons about handling incendiary devices. When Gandalf let the pyrotechnics loose on the Shire in The Lord of the Rings, we are nearly as impressed as the hobbits.

Final Destination 3 taught us that, while often deadly in and of themselves, it is often their tendency to distract you that makes fireworks so dangerous. Drivers on Lakeshore Drive near Navy Pier, we're looking at you here. Eyes on the road!

Is there any competition for July 4 as the night of the year with the most total violations of municipal and state law to which the police department simply turns a blind eye? V for Vendetta is a good reminder that as expressions of symbolic violence, fireworks displays are always inherently political. Let's enjoy our little taste of anarchy responsibly.

If the idea of Independence Day fireworks displays is for us to reflect on the armed conflict by which we purchased our freedom, the point is far too often lost. In Apocalypse Now, the rockets lighting up the sky above the Do Lung bridge in a demonic inversion of our celebratory gestures. If there's an opposite of "Stars and Stripes Forever," it might be "The End" by The Doors.

Put their violence at enough remove and fireworks become more usefully symbolic. We're suckers for their turn as an expression of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly's incendiary desire in Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief. Skyrockets in flight, indeed.

Sometimes a fireworks display is, of course, just a fireworks display--a pretty, colorful distraction meant to do no more than make you glad to be alive. There is no shortage of fireworks on the big or little screen, but if watching them is no substitute and you actually must set off a few yourself, we suggest you watch a good fireworks safety video. Can we recommend A Message from the Preventer?