A great movie quote is a combination of the words written, the delivery by the actor themselves and the circumstances in which those words are said. By circumstances I’m not just talking about the situation, I’m talking about why the situation arose, who or what is most at risk or being exposed or concealed. By speaking these words what does it mean for the film’s future, what does it say about the end, where will these words take our characters or and how will they change. The list below are not just great movie quotes but important ones, whose impact changed the course of the movie for better or worse.
Morpheus: “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”
The perfect example of that pivotal moment that changes everything. The decision, all good films in my opinion feature a choice for our main character and as choices go this ones a whole new world.
Silence of the Lambs
Hannibal Lecter: “You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube. A well scrubbed, hustling rube with a little taste. Good nutrition’s given you some length of bone, but you’re not more than one generation from poor white trash, are you, Agent Starling? And that accent you’ve tried so desperately to shed: pure West Virginia. What is your father, dear? Is he a coal miner? Does he stink of the lamp? You know how quickly the boys found you… all those tedious sticky fumblings in the back seats of cars… while you could only dream of getting out… getting anywhere… getting all the way to the FBI.”
This for me is the moment Hannibal Lecter becomes on of the greatest onscreen villains cinema’s ever seen. A ruthless, intelligent, manipulative, killer quite unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
Stansfield: “At your service.”
Léon: “This is from Mathilda.”
The last few final words from one of our favourite anti heroes. With his last words he chooses to sacrifice and take revenge for his friend Mathilda. A selfless act that closes the film in the best possible way.
Phil: “Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.”
A great example of clever dialogue used to emphasize Phil’s charming predicament but when spoken by Bill through his depressed, low tone, we soon realise it’s more of a curse.
2001: A Space Odyssey
HAL: “Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.”
After coming to the horrible realisation that HAL was on to his ideas and is now an enemy Dave, finds himself literally stranded out in space. This final line of Dialogue following the terrible conversation really drives home the point that HAL is now in control and the pod bay doors are not going to open.
The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring
Gandalf: “You shall no pass!”
Having fought through the hordes of goblins, this is truly the groups first real test, a test that takes the life of one of it’s most treasured members but not before a fight. Gandalfs defiance and indeed the groups only hope is echoed as Ian Mckellen’s voice booms through tunnels surrounding the bridge of Khazad-dum.
Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back
Darth Vader: “Luke I am your father.”
Widely regarded as the best film in the entire Star Wars franchise and arguably because of this very line. A plot development point no one saw coming that changed everything in an instant. Darth was no longer the simple villian, Luke also was no longer the boy from the farm back on Tatooine, the risks and indeed the motives in battle we’re less black and white.
Maximus: “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”
A huge moment made epic through the words spoken and the message they carry. We watch Maximus struggle and suffer throughout the film and in doing so we place our trust in him, trust in the idea he will get there, he will take revenge and this is the moment. Perfectly delivered, with again brilliant consequences for the decision made.
The Dark Knight
Joker: “Don’t talk like one of them. You’re not! Even if you’d like to be. To them, you’re just a freak, like me! They need you right now, but when they don’t, they’ll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it’s a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you. When the chips are down, these… these civilized people, they’ll eat each other. See, I’m not a monster. I’m just ahead of the curve.”
My favourite moment from my favourite superhero film. It delivers a simple point through an extraordinary manner in the form of Heath Ledger’s Joker. Beautifully driven home, Joker puts forward a compelling case for the reason Batman exists.
Batty: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain… Time to die.”
One of the most moving final monologues of any character’s death. There’s little left to say about this poetic, beautiful speech other than the obvious point it’s trying to make, that replicant’s are as equally as capable of experience and beauty as that of human’s and their emotional qualities.