The 10 greatest fireworks scenes in movies

Even though we should ‘remember, remember the fifth of November’, many people have ironically forgotten what the day of commemoration even means. They can’t be blamed either, especially because it happened over four centuries ago. Interestingly, the inciting incident where Guy Fawkes and his cronies tried to blow up the houses of parliament in an act of retaliation for King James I’s persecution of Roman Catholics has become a part of popular culture due to V for Vendetta.

Whilst the annual event was created to commemorate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot, these days, it is more of an excuse to stand in a muddy field, eat a lukewarm hotdog, drink some mulled wine, watch some fireworks and have damned fun while your doing it. Marking the spiritual mark of winter festivities, the moment in early November comes when the dark nights have a spiteful frost in the air, and your digits are in need of gloves. 

Fireworks have also taken on new meaning, with the fun-filled explosives being used at celebratory events the year round. They have long been used in cinema to reflect important moments of love, reflection and comedy. The more we think about it, the more we think there is something innately hilarious about people repeatedly lighting explosives just to watch them scatter in the sky. 

Depending on where you’re standing, it’s either money well spent or cash blown up into a million colourful pieces. As personal lovers of rockets, mines, cakes, fountains, and Catherine wheels, we thought we’d break down the ten best fireworks scenes in movies. 

Check out the full list below.

The 10 greatest fireworks scenes in movies:

10. Coneheads (Steve Barron, 1993)

The peculiar science fiction comedy movie Coneheads has become something of a cult favourite in recent years, as audiences and critics re-evaluate the weird family movie about aliens with conical-shaped crania who crash-land on Earth. Starring a bizarre array of Hollywood comedians, including Dan Aykroyd, Adam Sandler and David Spade, its explosive moment comes shortly before a baseball game when Beldar Conehead sets off a miniature rocket. 

The throwaway gag sees the pathetic-sized rocket create an equally lame explosion before sending out an aftershock with the weight of a nuclear bomb. A silly joke but a memorable one. 

9. Jackass: The Movie (Jeff Tremaine, 2002)

Speaking of practical jokes, we’re heading to the pioneers of pranking for our ninth pick, with the original Jackass movie providing a boisterous, puerile and undeniably hilarious moment when Bam Margera lets off a firework in his parent’s bedroom. Creeping in in the middle of the night, Magera lights a barrel full of fireworks and tosses it into the room, lighting it up in a strobing yellow nightmare. 

Shocked awake, Bam’s dad makes his way to the van outside in order to get a quiet night’s kip, but his evil son throws fireworks in there too.

8. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (David Zucker, 1988)

Leslie Nielsen is the lesser-discussed king of American comedy, taking his skills for perfectly-timed delivery and straight-faced sincerity to such classics as Airplane! and the Naked Gun trilogy. A classic moment in the first cop-drama satires comes when Nielsen’s Frank Drebin is trying to control a crowd gathered around a car crash outside a fireworks shop.

“Nothing to see here,” he hilariously shouts, despite fireworks, smoke and desperate fleeing workers emerging from the rubble behind him.  

7. Submarine (Richard Ayoade, 2010)

Up until this point in the list, fireworks have been used as a gag and a punchline, but for our eighth entry, they are used as an expression of joy and love. Filmmaker and comedian Richard Ayoade told a quirky story of young love in his 2010 movie Submarine, adapted from the novel of the same name by Joe Dunthorne, with one memorable scene showing the two loved-up protagonists, Oliver (Craig Roberts) and Jordana (Yasmin Paige) run around a fairground setting off fireworks. 

Set to the tune of Alex Turner’s original song ‘Hiding Tonight’, which was made for the 2010 movie, the moment is a touching moment that connects to the frivolous joys of liberating youth. 

6. Involuntary (Ruben Östlund, 2008)

The Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund is recognised as one of the great minds of contemporary cinema for a reason, having won back-to-back Palme d’Ors for his 2017 film The Square and 2022s Triangle of Sadness. But, arguably, his very best material came toward the start of his career, with the anthology drama Involuntary containing a special moment involving a birthday party and a fireworks display gone wrong. 

In a film that explores the struggles of ‘saving face’ the host of the party refuses to get treatment for injuries he experiences letting off the fireworks and is eventually found prostrate on the floor in pain. The moment is hilarious, painfully cringy and too great to omit from our list (even if we couldn’t find the specific scene). 

5. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Peter Jackson, 2001)

It’s nice to take in the opening scenes of Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring and enjoy the serenity of the situation while it lasts as we join Pippin (Billy Boyd) and Merry (Dominic Monaghan) during a birthday party in the idyllic Shire. The boisterous duo are up to no good when they sneak into the back of Gandalf’s wagon and steal a mighty dragon-shaped firework before heading to a tent to light it. 

To the shock of the villagers, the firework launches into the air and releases a sparked dragon that takes flight across the sky and explodes with great drama. It’s a wonderful view to behold, with not an orc in sight. 

4. Hana-Bi (Takeshi Kitano, 1997)

It would be wrong not to include Takeshi Kitano’s iconic 1997 movie Hana-Bi on our list. After all, the title can literally be translated as Fireworks. Written and directed by the idiosyncratic Japanese comedian, the film follows Nishi (Kitano), who leaves the police force after a tragic accident and spirals into depression whilst he looks after his sick wife Miyuki (Kayoko Kishimoto), who has terminal leukaemia. 

The intimate relationship between him and his wife is further explored in one moment when they let fireworks off at the beach. Together, they laugh and smile at the lack of explosions before Kitano treats the viewer to a beautiful animated display.  

3. To Catch a Thief (Alfred Hitchcock, 1955)

There’s a reason that the British filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock was considered one of the greatest directors of all time, with the innovative mind being responsible for some of the industry’s most creative moments. One such moment comes in his 1955 film To Catch a Thief, where Cary Grant’s John Robie and Grace Kelly’s Frances Stevens engage in a romantic conversation in an apartment on the French coast.

Bursting silently in the background as they engage in flirtatious conversation, the explosions come to represent the steady sexual tension that is bottled within both of them, with the fireworks intensifying as their love becomes ever more physical. 

2. The Lovers on the Bridge (Leos Carax, 1991)

French filmmaker Leos Carax is better known for his recent successes with 2012s Holy Motors and 2021s Annette, but fans of French cinema will know that the unique creative has been working in the industry for decades. One of his best films came in 1991 when he released the romantic drama, The Lovers on the Bridge, which tells the story of a homeless alcoholic named Alex (Denis Lavant) and Michèle (Juliette Binoche), a woman who is rapidly losing her sight, as they strike up a relationship after sleeping rough on Paris’s Pont-Neuf bridge.

One point towards the end of the film sees the duo engage in a bizarre yet hauntingly beautiful dance as they shoot a gun towards the sky, which glitters with colourful fireworks. 

1. Blow Out (Brian De Palma, 1981)

Brian De Palma’s 1981 movie Blow Out is one of the American filmmaker’s many great masterpieces. Starring John Travolta, John Lithgow and Nancy Allen, the crime film follows a movie sound recordist who accidentally captures evidence that proves a car accident was actually murder. Consequently, he finds himself embroiled in a mysterious plot that he wants nor deserves any part in. 

Trying to protect a young woman who was involved in the accident named Sally Bedina (Allen), Travolta’s Jack (Travolta) fails (sorry, spoilers) and spends an iconic moment at the film’s climax in emotional distress whilst fireworks explode behind him.