Meredith Alloway of The Script Lab has posted a great list of the top ten revelation scenes. These scenes give excellent examples of how to reveal information both to your audience and to your characters. Take a look:
Some of the most crucial scenes in cinema come when important information is revealed to us. This key information can be learned at the same time the character does, it can be revealed to us before the character finds out, or we may discover it after the character already knows. Often, however, the revelation occurs with the character because when it’s a simultaneous discovery, we empathize, often experiencing the exact same emotions that the character feels, and this usually creates a closer connection to that character. But regardless of how we find out, an good revelation scene is not just about the moment when the twist occurs, when things are revealed and surprise ensues, but also about what leads up to this scene. If characters are developed properly, and the information is withheld until the right moment in the plot, BAM! Revelation!
10. Fight Club (1999)
This revelation scene is both jarring to the narrator (Edward Norton) and the audience. Up until this point, the narrator is influenced by the stronger, better looking and more ferocious Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). In the last scene of the film, however, when Tyler has the narrator at gunpoint, the narrator knowing that his alter-ego is in fact Tyler, he realizes that if he shoots himself, there is a chance that the potentially lethal act may destroy Tyler. And that’s exactly what happens. The bullet passes through the Narrator’s cheek, leaving him alive, but what he sees is a bullet wound in the back of Tyler’s head. In one scene the Narrator is able to defeat the evil part within himself, and finally, Tyler is dead.
9. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Who can forget one of the most classic scenes in cinema when the great and powerful Oz is revealed? Dorothy (Judy Garland), the Cowardly Lion, (Bert Lahr) the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) and the Tin Man (Jack Haley) have made it all the way to Emerald City in order to meet the Wizard of Oz. When they finally make their way into his chamber, they’re greeted with a green looming face, surrounded by fire and a boisterous, intimidating voice. When Toto senses something from behind a curtain on the other side of the room, he pulls it back to reveal an old man. The man is speaking into a machine and says, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” Dorothy and her friends realize that the old man is in fact Oz (Frank Morgan). We also experience the shock and disappointment that the powerful god-like figure we’ve been working towards meeting the entire film, is just a regular guy. Dorothy’s dreams of finding a way home are dashed. This revelation serves as a wonderful twist to the movie and also allows Dorothy to discover that all along she had the power to make her way home.
8. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Dr. William Harford (Tom Cruise) trusts his wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman), more than anything. One night they decide to get high and Alice ends up revealing something William never expected. She tells him that one time in the past, when their child was very young, she met a man who tempted her to cheat on William. She talks about how captivated she was with him and says, “I would have given up everything, my whole future, for one night with him.” This shocks both William and us, as the audience, who viewed Alice as faithful and honest. This scene is a revelation for William, that his wife has secret sexual desires, and launches him into a dangerous exploration of his own.