Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Great Film Speeches

I've always believed behind every great quote in film, there lies a speech more powerful than anything you'll find in 4 or 5 words. Speeches can inspire us, break our hearts, or make us realize something in the world we never truly did. In honor of one of the most overlooked categories in history last year I put together this list of my personal favorite speeches in cinema history. The criteria: more than one sentence, social and political impact, and addressed to a group of people, or the audience. Note: some of these speeches have been edited down to remove spoilers/length.

So without further ado, here's my top 7 film speeches:

7. Choose Your Life, Trainspotting (1996)
Spoken By Ewan McGregor, Written By John Hodge
- Talk about an opening that strikes you right in the gut. A middle finger to the so-called dream life, the Trainspotting opening sets the tone for one of the most off the wall films I've ever seen. Not to mention the dark comedic undertones.

The Speech: "Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home.... Choose your future. Choose life... But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin' else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got heroin?

6. The Baseball Speech, Field of Dreams (1989)
Spoken By James Earl Jones, Written By Phil Alden Robinson
- Ah the beauty, the ultimate sports speech in my book. Such a beautiful and epic send up to the beauty that was once baseball, and the ability it hard to inspire love in those who watched and played it. A statement to the true beauty and history of a game transcending through the ages.

The Speech: "America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers; it has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Ohhhh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come..."

5. Klaatu's Final Address, The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Spoken By Michael Rennie, Written By Edmund H. North
- A statement to the ignorance and fears of the time, this final address calls out all of the world to stop their idiotic and futile attempts to outdo one another... a message depressingly lost in its recent remake.

The Speech: "It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet, but if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder. Your choice is simple: join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration."

4. Glorious Action, Glory (1989)
Spoken By Morgan Freeman, Written By Kevin Jarre
- Now I seldom deal with the issue of race, but Glory is one of those films I've always been emotionally moved by. Freeman's speech, a call to action among all his fellow African-American soldiers to fight, and to create a future of their own both inspires and brings tears to your eyes as it recognizes not only their potential, but the dark past from which they came.

The Speech:
"And who are you? So full of hate that you have to fight everybody, because you've been whipped and chased by hounds. Well that might not be living, but it sure as hell ain't dying. And dying's been what these white boys have been doing for going on three years now, dying by the thousands, dying for you, fool. I know 'cause I dug the graves. And all this time I keep askin' myself, when, O Lord, when it's gonna be our time? Gonna come a time when we all gonna hafta ante up and kick in like men, LIKE MEN! You watch who you callin' nigger! If there's any niggers around here, it's YOU, just a stupid-ass, swamp-runnin' nigger! And if you not careful, that's all you ever gonna be!"

3. Terry Malloy's Self-Discovery, On the Waterfront (1954)
Spoken By Marlon Brando, Written By Budd Schulberg
- Lets face it, when it comes to classic lines this one is in everyone's top 5, but I'd go farther than just the line. The entire conversation, a statement to anyone being held down by those around them. Violated of his dream, I really think this is where Terry is finally able to let go of the past and we, the audience, are truly let into his heart, and his deep troubles.

The Speech: "It wasn't him, Charley! It was you. You remember that night in the Garden, you came down to my dressing room and said: 'Kid, this ain't your night. We're going for the price on Wilson.' You remember that? 'This ain't your night!' My night! I coulda taken Wilson apart! So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors in the ball park - and whadda I get? A one-way ticket to Palookaville....You was my brother, Charley. You shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me - just a little bit - so I wouldn't have to take them dives for the short-end money....You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am. Let's face it (pause) ...... It was you, Charley."

2. Our Freedom, Braveheart (1995)
Spoken By Mel Gibson, Written By Randall Wallace
- To call this speech good, would be to say Winston Churchill's V for Victory was just a phase (if you don't know it was later adapted as the now infamous peace symbol). This speech was simply marvelous, the ideal that we all at our core share, the idea of freedom, the power the awe, the angst, the vision! What else is there to say really?

The Speech:
"And I see a whole army of my countrymen here in defiance of tyranny. You have come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight?...Aye, fight and you may die, run and you'll live - at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!"

1. An Emperor No More, The Great Dictator (1940)
Written and Spoken By Charlie Chaplin
- Often credited as one of the longest non-cut speeches ever given, Charlie Chaplin's final speech as a Jewish man confused for the Hitler-esqe Emperor delivers as powerful a message as you can ever dream of, one of a hope that will transcend all. Simple and yet so marvelous speech, it's the best I've ever heard, and one I love to listen to over and over again, it just takes your heart away.

The Speech (sort of, it's insanely long in reality): "
Hannah, can you hear me? Wherever you are, look up, Hannah! The clouds are lifting! The sun is breaking through! We are coming out of the darkness into the light! We are coming into a new world, a kindlier world, where men will rise above their hate, their greed and brutality. Look up, Hannah! The soul of man has been given wings and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow! Into the light of hope! Into the future, the glorious future that belongs to you, to me, and to all of us. Look up, Hannah! Look up!"

Well, that's my list, I hope you enjoyed it. Got one of your own? Share it in the comments section!

0 better thoughts:

Related Posts with Thumbnails