Best Film Speeches
and Monologues

1989


Best Film Speeches and Monologues
Film Title/Year and Description of Film Speech/Monologue
Screenshots

The Abyss (1989)
Screenwriter(s): James Cameron

"LIVE!"

The famous, emotionally raw resuscitation scene in which husband Virgil "Bud" Brigman (Ed Harris) valiantly refused to accept estranged wife Lindsey's (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) death by drowning while trying to revive her. After a few jolts, he began chest compressions by hand. He was told: "It's all over, man," but he asserted:

No! No, she has a strong heart! She wants to LIVE! C'mon, Linds! C'mon baby! Zap her again! Do it!... Do it!... Come on baby, come on baby!... Come on, breathe baby. Goddamn it, BREATHE! Goddamn it, you bitch, you never backed away from anything in your life! Now fight! Fight! Fight! Right now! Do it! FIGHT, GODDAMN IT! FIGHT! FIGHT! Fiiiiiiiiiiight! Fiiiiiiiiiiight! That's it, that's it, Lindsey. That's it, Linds, you can do it. That's it, Linds, come back, baby. Come on. You can do it, baby.



The Abyss (1989)
Screenwriter(s): James Cameron

"I'll Always Be With You"

Aggressive and outspoken Lindsey's (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) heartfelt and reassuring messages to her estranged husband Virgil "Bud" Brigman (Ed Harris), relayed to him as he descended dangerously into a deep ocean trench to disarm a nuclear warhead, and began hallucinating as he set the record for the deepest suit dive:

Bud. There are some, some things I need to say. It's hard for me, you know. It's not easy being a cast-iron bitch. Takes discipline and years of training. A lot of people don't appreciate that. Jesus, I'm sorry I can't tell you these things to your face. I have to wait till you're alone in the dark, freezing, and there's feet of water between us. I'm sorry. I'm-- I'm rambling....Bud, how are you doing?...No, Bud, I'm not going away, I'm right here...I am right here with you, Bud. Bud, this is Lindsey. Please. I'm right here with you. Okay? So try and stay calm. I'm right here. All right? Bud?...B-Bud, it's the pressure. All right? You have to listen to my voice. You have to try. Concentrate. All right? Just listen to my voice. Please.... Bud-- I'm not getting anything!...Bud, I know how alone you feel. Alone in all that cold blackness. But I'm there in the dark with you. Oh, Bud, you're not alone. Oh, God.

Do you remember that time -- you were pretty drunk. You probably don't remember. The power went out in that little apartment we had on Orange Street. We were staring at that one little candle and I said something really dumb, like, "That candle is me," like -- like every one of us is out there alone in the dark in this life. And you just -- you just lit up another candle and put it beside mine ... and you said, "No! See, that's me. That's me." We stared at the two candles, and then -- Well, if you remember any of this, I'm sure you remember the next part. But there are two candles in the dark. I'm with you. I'll always be with you, Bud. I promise that....Bud, now come on, you hangin' in there? You have to talk to me, Bud, please! I need to know if you're OK...You see light? What kind of light, Bud?... Bud, do you hear me? You drop your weights and start back now, Bud. That gauge could be wrong. Do you hear me? Just drop your weights and start back now. Your gauge could be wrong! Your gauge could be wrong. You drop your weights and start back now. No, you won't stay there. Do you hear me? You drop your weights. You can breathe shallow. Do you hear me? Bud, please, listen to me, please. God-damn it, you dragged me back from that bottomless pit. You can't leave me here alone now. Please, oh, God, Virgil, please. Please. I love you.



Crimes & Misdemeanors (1989)
Screenwriter(s): Woody Allen

Thoughts on Moral Choices

Philosophy Professor Louis Levy's (Martin S. Bergmann, a non-actor and therapist friend of Woody Allen) closing monologue (in voice-over) about moral choices - during a final montage of scenes from the film. The final scene was a wedding, in which the blind rabbi Ben (Sam Waterston), a patient of ophthalmologist Dr. Judah Rosenthal (Martin Landau), danced with his daughter, a new bride. Levy discussed the interconnectedness of moral choices and human happiness:

We are all faced throughout our lives with agonizing decisions, moral choices. Some are on a grand scale, most of these choices are on lesser points. But we define ourselves by the choices we have made. We are, in fact, the sum total of our choices. Events unfold so unpredictably, so unfairly. Human happiness does not seem to have been included in the design of creation. It is only we, with our capacity to love that give meaning to the indifferent universe. And yet, most human beings seem to have the ability to keep trying and even to find joy from simple things, like their family, their work, and from the hope that future generations might understand more.



Dead Poets Society (1989)
Screenwriter(s): Tom Schulman

"Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May" - "Carpe Diem" - "Seize the Day!"

Inspiring but unorthodox Welton Academy English teacher John Keating (Robin Williams) spoke to his male prep school students after taking them out of the classroom into the main entranceway or hallway. He had them first discuss the phrase "Carpe Diem" (or "Seize the Day") from a hymnal (page 542), then had them approach glass display cases filled with trophies, footballs, and team pictures. He emphasized that they should make the most of their short lives:

'O Captain, my Captain.' Who knows where that comes from? Anybody? Not a clue? It's from a poem by Walt Whitman about Mr. Abraham Lincoln. Now in this class, you can either call me Mr. Keating, or if you're slightly more daring, O Captain, my Captain. Now let me dispel a few rumors so they don't fester into facts. Yes, I too attended Hell-ton and survived. And no, at that time I was not the mental giant you see before you. I was the intellectual equivalent of a ninety-eight pound weakling. I would go to the beach and people would kick copies of Byron in my face....

'Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.' The Latin term for that sentiment is Carpe Diem. Now who knows what that means?...Seize the day. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. Why does the writer use these lines?...Because we are food for worms, lads. Because, believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day gonna stop breathing, turn cold, and die.

Now I would like you to step forward over here and peruse some of the faces from the past. You've walked past them many times. I don't think you've really looked at them. They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you. Their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen. Do you hear it? (whispering in a gruff voice) Carpe. Hear it? (whispering) Carpe. Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys. Make your lives extraordinary.




Dead Poets Society (1989)
Screenwriter(s): Tom Schulman

"Poetry, Beauty, Romance, Love, These Are What We Stay Alive For"

Play clip (excerpt): Dead Poets Society

Later, during one of his classes with the same poetry students, after he had them rip out the entire introduction to their Pritchard 'Introduction to Poetry' textbooks, teacher John Keating (Robin Williams) explained why they should 'read and write poetry':

Excrement. That's what I think of Mr. J. Evans Pritchard. We're not laying pipe, we're talking about poetry. How can you describe poetry like American Bandstand? I like Byron, I give him a 42, but I can't dance to it. Now I want you to rip out that page. Go on, rip out the entire page. You heard me, rip it out. Rip it out! Go on, rip it out....Gentlemen, tell you what, don't just tear out that page, tear out the entire introduction. I want it gone, history. Leave nothing of it. Rip it out. Rip! Begone J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D. Rip, shred, tear. Rip it out. I want to hear nothing but ripping of Mr. Pritchard. We'll perforate it, put it on a roll. It's not the Bible, you're not gonna go to hell for this. Go on, make a clean tear, I want nothing left of it....Rip it out, rip!...I don't hear enough rips....Keep ripping, gentlemen. This is a battle, a war. And the casualties could be your hearts and souls. (collecting scraps of paper in a metal wastebasket) Thank you, Mr. Dalton. Armies of academics going forward, measuring poetry. No, we will not have that here. No more of Mr. J. Evans Pritchard. Now in my class, you will learn to think for yourselves again. You will learn to savor words and language. No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world. I see that look in Mr. Pitt's eye, like 19th Century literature has nothing to do with going to business school or medical school. Right? Maybe. Mr. Hopkins, you may agree with him, thinking 'Yes, we should simply study our Mr. Pritchard and learn our rhyme and meter and go quietly about the business of achieving other ambitions.' I have a little secret for ya. Huddle up. Huddle up!

We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman: 'O me, o life of the questions of these recurring, of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities filled with the foolish. What good amid these, o me, o life?' Answer: that you are here. That life exists, and identity. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?





Dead Poets Society (1989)
Screenwriter(s): Tom Schulman

"The Difficulty in Maintaining Your Own Beliefs in the Face of Others" - On Conformity

In the outdoor courtyard of the Welton School, three of Keating's students were striding along, accompanied by the clapping cadence of others applauding. They all engaged in a military march led by their teacher, while shouting out: "I don't know but I've been told, Doin' poetry is old," after which he delivered a lesson about conformity:

Thank you, gentlemen. If you noticed, everyone started off with their own stride, their own pace. Mr. Pitts taking his time. He knew he'll get there one day. Mr. Cameron you could see him thinking, 'Is this right? It might be right. It might be right. I know that. Maybe not. I don't know.' Mr. Overstreet driven by a deeper force. Yes. We know that. All right. Now, I didn't bring them up here to ridicule them. I brought them up here to illustrate the point of conformity: the difficulty in maintaining your own beliefs in the face of others.

Now, those of you - I see the look in your eyes like, 'I would've walked differently.' Well, ask yourselves why you were clapping. Now, we all have a great need for acceptance. But you must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular, even though the herd may go, 'That's baaaaad.' Robert Frost said, 'Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.' Now, I want you to find your own walk right now. Your own way of striding, pacing. Any direction. Anything you want. Whether it's proud, whether it's silly, anything. Gentlemen, the courtyard is yours.


Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
Screenwriter(s): Gus Van Sant, Daniel Yost

Hallucinating Drug Effect - "Life Was Beautiful"

Dope user Bob Hughes' (Matt Dillon) hallucinatory experience after shooting up his arm in the back seat of a car, with his voice-over and floating images:

After any kind of drug haul, everyone in the crew indulged. I laughed to myself as I pictured blues and Dilaudid in such great amounts on the spoon that it would literally be overflowing. Upon entering my vein, the drug would start a warm itch that would surge along until the brain consumed it in a gentle explosion. It began in the back of the neck and rose rapidly until I felt such pleasure that the whole world sympathized and took on a soft, lofty appeal. Everything was grand then. Your worst enemy -- he wasn't so bad. The ants in the grass -- they were just, you know, doin' their thing. Everything took on the rosy hue of unlimited success. You could do no wrong, and as long as it lasted, life was beautiful.

Field of Dreams (1989)
Screenwriter(s): Phil Alden Robinson

"That's My Wish"

Dr. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham's (Burt Lancaster in his last theatrical film role) poignant wish to fulfill his dream: a chance to bat in the major leagues:

Graham: It was like coming this close to your dreams and then watch them brush past you like a stranger in a crowd. At the time, you don't think much of it. You know, we just don't recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they're happening. Back then I thought, 'Well, there'll be other days.' I didn't realize that that was the only day. And now, Ray Kinsella, I want to ask you a question. What's so interesting about a half an inning that would make you come all the way from Iowa to talk to me about it 50 years after it happened?
Ray: I really didn't know till just now, but I think it's to ask you if you could do anything you wanted, if you could have a-a wish.
Graham: And that you're the kind of a man who could grant me that wish?
Ray: I don't know. I'm just asking.
Graham: Well, you know, I-I never got to bat in the major leagues. I'd have liked to have had that chance just once, to stare down a big-league pitcher. To stare him down, then just as he goes into his windup, wink. Make him think you know something he doesn't. That's what I wish for. The chance to squint at a sky so blue that it hurts your eyes just to look at it. To feel the tingle in your arm as you connect with the ball. To run the bases, stretch a double into a triple, and flop face-first into third, wrap your arms around the bag. That's my wish, Ray Kinsella. That's my wish. And is there enough magic out there in the moonlight to make this dream come true?
Ray: What would you say if I said yes?
Graham: I think I'd actually believe you.
Ray: Well, sir, there's a place where things like that happen, and if you want to go, I can take you.
Graham: This is my most special place in all the world, Ray. Once a place touches you like this, the wind never blows so cold again. You feel for it, like it was your child. I can't leave Chisholm.


Field of Dreams (1989)
Screenwriter(s): Phil Alden Robinson

The One Constant Through All the Years - Baseball ("Part of Our Past), and "People Will Come"

Play clip (excerpt): Field of Dreams (short)
Play clip (excerpt): Field of Dreams (long)

In Boston, disillusioned, controversial and reclusive author Terence Mann's (James Earl Jones) poignant "People will come" speech to idealistic, transplanted city boy-turned-farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) - an elucidation about the purpose of the game of baseball in American history, to help Ray seek out the meaning of the voices and the purpose of the ball field:

Ray. People will come, Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn into your driveway, not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door, as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $20 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it, for it is money they have and peace they lack...And they'll walk off to the bleachers and sit in their shirt sleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines where they sat when they were children, and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game, and it'll be as if they'd dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they'll have to brush them away from their faces... People will come, Ray... The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's 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 that could be again. Ohhhh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come...




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