Top 10 Highlights
From early in recorded history, and in all likelihood back into pre-history, speeches have been used to stir masses of people to take a certain direction, to back a particular proposal or simply to adopt a mindset.
Great movie speeches can elevate a film and will often be used as a bridge that takes the film to a more intense level. Great speeches are given by great actors. Here are our top 10.
10. Black Hawk Down – Eric Bana
Hoot, Eric Bana, is about to go back into the centre of Mogadishu (Somalia) to try a second rescue of trapped US soldiers. Warlords rule the city and the likelihood of not coming back alive is pretty high. Hoot gives a short but powerful view on why soldiers do what they do. Great delivery from Bana.
9. The Games – John Howard
The Games was a satirical TV series (‘Mockumentary’ is the term they liked to use) that detailed the behind the scenes workings of the administration and marketing leading up to the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
At the same time, in real life, there was a lot of debate about saying ‘sorry’ to indigenous Australian’s. The Prime Minister at the time, John Howard, was taking the stance that he and current generations of Australian’s did not perpetrate the atrocities of the past and therefore had no reason to say sorry. He also cited concerns about legal liability if he was to say sorry. He was a mean and miserly man.
Australia also has an actor named John Howard. This speech speaks for itself. Moving, honest, heartfelt and unashamedly sorry for the sins of our forebears.
8. Intolerable Cruelty – George Clooney
Miles Massey (George Clooney) is a divorce lawyer famous for the prenuptial agreement he wrote, the impenetrable Massey Prenup. After great success in his career and plenty of money and material possessions Massey is after something more from life and finds it after meeting and falling in love with Marylin (Catherine Zeta-Jones), an ambitious gold-digging serial wife.
This stirring speech on love and matrimonial attorneys comes after Miles realises he’s fallen in love and he disowns his high-flying career in front of hundreds of his colleagues at a conference in Vegas. He’s off to do pro-bono work in East Los Angeles or… “one of those other…”
7. Miracle – Kurt Russell
Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) is the coach of the US Ice Hockey team at the 1980 Olympic Games at Lake Placid, New York. They are up against the legendary Russian team that was perhaps the greatest hockey team of all time. Russell does a great job and the speech is superb, but the whole sequence goes beyond the speech. As the players leave the change rooms they walk past all the telegrams they’d got from the fans pinned to the wall. Super stirring stuff. True as well which is a bonus.
Great moments are born from great opportunity. This is your time.
6. The Shawshank Redemption – Robbins/Freeman
Andy (Tim Robbins) and Ellis (Morgan Freeman) talk about life outside prison. Andy wants to go to Zihuatanejo (siwata neho), a small town on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Ellis doesn’t think he can live outside the prison walls. It’s a wonderful juxtaposition of hope and hopelessness.
Get busy living. Or get busy dying. A gentle, heartfelt interchange that is inspiring in a subtle but powerful way.
5. Dead Poets Society – Robin Williams
Robin Williams in one of his more controlled roles talks to a group of students about making the most of their lives. This is not a grand speech with a soaring finish. In fact it’s quite the opposite, finishing softly as the words ’seize the day’ disappear into the black and white photos of past students. Not grand, but every bit as powerful as any of the other speeches. You can feel the passion pouring out of Williams.
Carpe Diem. Seize the day.
4. Wall Street – Michael Douglas
The speech that defined the 1980’s. Greed is good. Slick back your hair and make yourself some millions. The corporate raiders are out to shake up the old school ties and Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas) is the best raider in the business. He looks the part and he delivers this speech with the air of someone who has made millions many times over.
It all made such cold, hard sense that it was impossible not to totally believe that greed is good. Until the stock market crash of ’87 that is.
3. Blade Runner – Rutger Hauer
A movie masterpiece. The relatively few words given to us by Roy (Rutger Hauer) in this scene manage to capture the essence of life. Its magnificence and its frailty, but even more, its significance and its insignificance.
He is an android about to die but there is emotion and a fierce yearning for life that any human would be happy to have.
I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.
2. Fair Game – Sean Penn
Sean Penn delivers this inspirational, spine tingling speech with his trademark fierce, uncompromising honesty. The fact that this whole story is true makes this even more incredible. In this speech to a group of students, Penn, playing Joe Wilson, a United Nations Ambassador, asks a number of questions that cut to the core of democracy.
The political elite will use their power to advance their own causes. How should we respond to that? Beautiful.
1. The Kings Speech – Colin Firth
Colin Firth is great throughout this film as the Duke of York and King George VI. But his performance giving this final speech of the film is nothing short of brilliant. This is another true story and it’s difficult to overstate the importance of this speech in the context of a Britain that had just declared war on Germany.
If the people of Britain were not behind King and Country before this speech, they certainly were after it. Bravo!
A speech from the real world given by Martin Sheen at We Day 2010. We Day is an educational movement of young people wanting to make lasting change at a local, national and global level.
Who better than Martin Sheen to talk to them, and boy, is he an orator!
A man get to the gates of heaven and asks to be let in. St. Peter says “of course, just show us your scars”. The man said “I have no scars”. St. Peter says, “What a pity. Was there nothing worth fighting for?”