For Bonfire Night, here are 10 people on fire in film
It’s the fifth of November, which means two things: someone on your Twitter will be being precious about how Bonfire Night celebrates the state-sanctioned murder of dissidents, you’ll think about watching V for Vendetta but forget, and your dog is going to have a nervous breakdown. But religious freedom, dogs and those Anonymous masks are all shit, so why not read about people getting set on fire instead? It’s seasonal, and getting set on fire is way cooler than being honey-trapped by Natalie Portman in a tutu. Here’s our top 10 flaming film characters.
#10 – Mrs White (Clue)
She wasn’t literally on fire, no, but nobody else on this list has become a meme DESPITE being literally on fire, so Mrs White gets a free pass. “Flame… flames… FLAMES on the side of my face! Breathing… breath… heaving breaths.” The best bit is when the camera cuts to Tim Curry and Martin Mull, and neither they or their characters know how to react.
#9 – T-800 (The Terminator)
The best possible response to being set on fire is to simply let the flames eat away your external coat of living tissue to reveal your hyperalloy combat chassis. Virtually everyone else you’re going to read about could have benefited from that trick, although none of them get crushed in a pneumatic press by a sort of generic feather-haired 80s tart. Swings and roundabouts.
#8 – Flaming Medjai (The Mummy)
Say what you like about the Medjai (you had ONE job, guys), but that one chap who keeps trying to lay the smackdown on Brendan Fraser despite being completely aflame is really earning his disability lump sum. Odds are on he just wanted revenge for George of the Jungle.
#7 – Ting (Ong Bak)
It’s quite hard to clothe the concept of Tony Jaa kicking a monk with flaming legs in language, because you can never really tell who had the flaming legs. Tony Jaa kicks a monk whilst his legs are on fire? Still not clear. Tony Jaa takes down a monk with a flaming leg kick? Could mean he kicked the monk in the legs, which are on fire, or that he kicked the monk in the flaming legs (this is something a cabbie might say). Of course, you can say ‘Tony Jaa, whose legs were on fire at the time, kicked a monk”, but that’s a bit cumbersome.
#6 – Patrick McKenna (Angels and Demons)
It’s not hard to critcise Angels and Demons (although it’s still an infinitely better film than The Da Vinci Code, which seems like it was made for the sole point of being demolished in Film Studies lectures), but Dan Brown’s Vatican/antimatter crossover romp has its moments. Chief amongst them is the death of Ewan McGregor, the Pope’s secret son, who jumps out of a helicopter and then sets himself on fire like a stone cold boss. (The above video is a weird fan film, so skip to the last fifteen seconds for that tasty fire action.)
#5 – Fezzik (The Princess Bride)
Andre the Giant’s towering inability to act has never been more gloriously apparent than in this scene from The Princess Bride, where he stands in a wheelbarrow wearing a “Holocaust cloak” and bearing down on a cowering squad of guardsmen and STILL can’t really put any sort of expression into his lines. It’s marvellous. “DE DREAD PIYRA ROBBA IS HERE FOR YOU SOOOOOOULL!”
#4 – Anakin Skywalker (Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith)
After two whole films of watching Hayden Christensen destroy Darth Vader’s backstory like a thespian Terminator sent to discredit him before he was famous, seeing him get both legs chopped off and burst into flames was the least we deserved. Burn, Hayden Christensen, burn. Fucking burn. And make sure the master copy of Jumper is in your pocket when you do.
#3 – Chev Chelios (Crank: High Voltage)
There’s literally no point in being consumed by flames if you don’t roar at the sky and then break the fourth wall to give the audience the (flaming) finger. Jason Statham knows this. Why he couldn’t have told Stone Cold Steve Austin, who he torches in The Expendables, is anyone’s guess. (Fun fact: I fell asleep whilst watching The Expendables and was was woken up by Austin’s death scene. Still didn’t give a toss about any of it.)
#2 – Denethor (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)
I know Denethor was driven mad by the creeping threat of Mordor and the loss of his favourite son and everything, but it’s hard to feel sorry for him when you remember that he also made one of the Hobbits sing for him whilst he ate tomatoes like a complete freak.
#1 – Edward Malus (The Wicker Man)
Who else? THE DRONE MUST DIE. THE DRONE MUST DIE. THE DRONE MUST DIE.
Enjoy Bonfire Night, and don’t forget – it’s illegal to set fire to Catholics nowadays, but you can burn just as many copies of The Wicker Man as you like.