Best Film Speeches
and Monologues


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

The Piano (1993)
Screenwriter(s): Jane Campion

"I Don't Think Myself Silent"

Play clip (excerpt): The Piano (1993)

As she began her journey to New Zealand with her daughter Flora (Anna Paquin) in the mid-19th century for an arranged marriage as a mail-order bride, strong-willed mute pianist Scotswoman Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter) thought to herself, in voice-over in the film's first lines.

She explained how she had not spoken a word since she was six years old. Instead, she expressed herself through her piano - something she would miss during the long trip:

The voice you hear is not my speaking voice, but my mind's voice. I have not spoken since I was six years old. Lord knows why, not even me. My father says it is a dark talent, and the day I take it into my head to stop breathing will be my last.

Today, he married me to a man I have not yet met. Soon my daughter and I shall join him in his own country. My husband said my muteness does not bother him. He writes - and hark this! 'God loves dumb creatures, so why not he?' Were good he had God's patience, for silence affects everyone in the end. The strange thing is, I don't think myself silent, that is, because of my piano. I shall miss it on the journey.

The Piano (1993)
Screenwriter(s): Jane Campion

"My Will Has Chosen Life!"

Mute pianist Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter) delivered a haunting closing voice-over monologue about choosing life over death (by drowning) in New Zealand, when she was ensnared in her submerging "spoiled" piano and was plunged underwate. She decided to kick off her boot and swim back to the surface, and was hauled onto the boat by natives. In voice-over, she mused:

What a death! What a chance! What a surprise! My will has chosen life!? Still, it has had me spooked and many others besides!

(Epilogue) I teach piano now in Nelson. George has fashioned me a metal finger tip. I am quite the town freak which satisfies! I am learning to speak. My sound is still so bad I feel ashamed. I practice only when I'm alone and it is dark. At night, I think of my piano in its ocean grave, and sometimes of myself floating above it. Down there, everything is so still and silent that it lulls me to sleep. It is a weird lullaby and so it is -- it is mine.

(As the camera continued to pull back, Ada was seen dead, still tied to the piano.)

There is a silence where hath been no sound. There is a silence where no sound may be. In the cold grave under the deep deep sea. (Thomas Hood quote)

Schindler's List (1993)
Screenwriter(s): Steven Zaillian

"Today Is History"

SS Lieutenant Amon Goethe (Ralph Fiennes) gave a chilling speech to his officers, on the extermination and liquidation of Jews from Krakow, Poland, after the completion of the Plaszow concentration camp:

Today is history. Today will be remembered. Years from now, the young will ask with wonder about this day. Today is history, and you are part of it. Six hundred years ago when elsewhere they were footing the blame for the Black Death, Kazimierz the Great, so-called, told the Jews they could come to Krakow. They came. They trundled their belongings into the city. They settled. They took hold. They prospered in business, science, education, the arts. They came here with nothing. Nothing. And they flourished. For six centuries, there has been a Jewish Krakow. Think about that. By this evening, those six centuries are a rumour. They never happened. Today is history.

Schindler's List (1993)
Screenwriter(s): Steven Zaillian

Schindler's Farewell to His Factory Workers and Nazi Guards

Play clip (excerpt): Schindler's List

Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) said farewell to his factory workers, announcing the unconditional surrender of Germany:

The unconditional surrender of Germany has just been announced. At midnight tonight, the war is over. Tomorrow, you'll begin the process of looking for survivors of your families. In most cases, you won't find them. After six long years of murder, victims are being mourned throughout the world. We've survived. Many of you have come up to me and thanked me. Thank yourselves. Thank your fearless Stern, and others among you who worried about you and faced death at every moment. (sighing) I'm a member of the Nazi party. I'm a munitions manufacturer. I'm a profiteer of slave labor. I am a criminal. At midnight, you'll be free and I'll be hunted. I shall remain with you until five minutes after midnight. After which time, and I hope you'll forgive me, I have to flee.

(To the Nazi guards) I know you have received orders from our Commandant, which he has received from his superiors, to dispose of the population of this camp. Now would be the time to do it. Here they are, they're all here. This is your opportunity. (murmuring) Or, you could leave, and return to your families as men instead of murderers. (The guards left) In memory of the countless victims among your people, I ask us to observe three minutes of silence.

Six Degrees of Separation (1993)
Screenwriter(s): John Guare

Findings From the Book: The Catcher in the Rye - "A Manifesto of Hate" and "Everybody's a Phony"

When asked what his thesis was on, high-brow con-artist Paul (Will Smith) made easy prey of Fifth Avenue socialites, The Kittredges - Ouisa (Stockard Channing) and Flan (Donald Sutherland). Sharp-witted, articulate, and cultured, he persuasively charmed them with his words about J.D. Salinger's 1951 book A Catcher in the Rye:

A substitute teacher out on Long lsland was dropped from his job for fighting with a student. A few weeks later, he returned to the classroom, shot the student - unsuccessfully, held the class hostage, and then shot himself - successfully. This fact caught my eye. Last sentence, Times - 'A neighbor described the teacher as a nice boy, always reading Catcher in the Rye.'

This nit-wit Chapman, who shot John Lennon, said he did it because he wanted to draw the attention of the world to Catcher in the Rye, and the reading of this book would be his defense.

Young Hinckley, the whiz kid who shot Reagan and his press secretary, said: 'If you want my defense, all you have to do is read Catcher in the Rye.'...

I borrowed a copy from a young friend of mine, because I wanted to see what she had underlined. And I read this book to find out why this touching, beautiful, sensitive story, published in July 1951, had turned into this manifesto of hate. I started reading. It's exactly as I had remembered. Everybody's a phony. Page two - 'My brother's in Hollywood being a prostitute.' Page three - "What a phony slob his father was.' Page nine - 'People never notice anything.' Then, on page 22, my hair stood up. Well. Remember Holden Caulfield, the definitive sensitive youth wearing his red hunter's cap? A deer hunter's cap? 'Like hell it is. I sort of closed one eye like I was taking aim at it.' 'This is a people shooting hat. I shoot people in this hat.'

This book is preparing people for bigger moments in their lives than I had ever dreamed of. Then, on page 89, 'I'd rather push a guy out the window or chop his head off with an axe than sock him in the jaw.' 'I hate fistfights. What scares me most is the other guy's face.' I finished the book. It's touching and comic. The boy wants to do so much and can't do anything. Hates all phoniness and only lies to others. Wants everyone to like him but is only hateful and is completely self involved. In other words, a pretty accurate picture of a male adolescent.

Six Degrees of Separation (1993)
Screenwriter(s): John Guare

More On Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye - "The Worst Kind of Yellowness" - To Face Ourselves, That's The Hard Thing

Paul (Will Smith) continued his discussion of A Catcher in the Rye, a book about a self-involved male adolescent named Holden Caulfield who was 'paralyzed' and couldn't function:

What alarms me about the book - not the book so much as the aura about it - is this. The book is primarily about paralysis. The boy can't function. At the end, before he can run away and start a new life, it starts to rain. He folds. There's nothing wrong in writing about emotional and intellectual paralysis. It may, thanks to Chekhov and Samuel Beckett, be the great modern theme...

The aura around Salinger's book - which, perhaps, should be read by everyone but young men - is this. It mirrors like a fun-house mirror, and amplifies like a distorted speaker one of the great tragedies of our times - the death of the imagination. Because what else is paralysis? The imagination has been so debased that imagination - being imaginative, rather than being the linch pin of our existence, now stands as a synonym for something outside ourselves. Like science fiction. Or some new use for tangerine slices on raw pork chops - 'What an imaginative summer recipe.' And Star Wars - 'so imaginative'. And Star Trek - 'so imaginative'. And Lord of the Rings, all those dwarves - 'so imaginative'.

The imagination has moved out of the realm of being our link, our most personal link, with our inner lives and the world outside that world, this world we share. What is schizophrenia but a horrifying state where what's in here doesn't match what's out there?

Why has imagination become a synonym for style? I believe the imagination is the passport that we create to help take us into the real world. I believe the imagination is merely another phrase for what is most uniquely us. Jung says, 'The greatest sin is to be unconscious.' Our boy Holden says, 'What scares me most is the other guy's face.' 'It wouldn't be so bad if you could both be blindfolded.' Most of the time, the faces that we face are not the other guys', but our own faces. And it is the worst kind of yellowness to be so scared of yourself that you put blindfolds on rather than deal with yourself. To face ourselves - that's the hard thing. The imagination - that's God's gift. To make the act of self-examination bearable.

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Screenwriter(s): Nora Ephron, David S. Ward, Jeff Arch

A Recap of An Affair to Remember (1957) - The Inspiration for This Film - "A Chick's Movie"

Suzy (Rita Wilson), the sister of Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) - a grieving widower and architect newly-arrived in Seattle, was told that Sam was beginning to date again. His son Jonah (Ross Malinger) had recently called into a radio station on Christmas Eve, telling everyone that his father needed a new wife. One lady who heard the call wrote in, and proposed to meet him at the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine's Day.

Suzy recalled a similar story in the melodramatic plot of An Affair to Remember (1957), starring Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant. She described, interrupted by her own tearful rendition, of how the two had planned to meet at the top of the Empire State Building, but Kerr was unable to rendezvous with him because she was struck by a car, although they met awhile later and were joyously reunited:

Well, it's like that movie...An Affair to Remember. Did you ever see it? Oh, God. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. Is it 'car' or 'cur'?...Okay, she's gonna meet him at the top of the Empire State Building, only she got hit by a taxi. And he waited and waited. And it was raining, I think. And then, she's too proud to tell him that she's, uh, crippled. (tearing up) And he's too proud to find out why she doesn't come.

But he comes to see her anyway. I forget why, but oh - Oh, it's so amazing when he comes to see her because he doesn't even notice that she doesn't get up to say hello. And he's very bitter. And you think that he's just gonna walk out the door and never know why she's just lying there, you know, like, on the couch, with this blanket over her shriveled little legs, and....Suddenly he goes, 'I already sold the painting.' And he, he like, goes to the bedroom, and he looks and he comes out, and he looks at her, and he kind-of, just. They know, and then they hug. And it's so, god...

Sam responded: "That's a chick's movie."

True Romance (1993)
Screenwriter(s): Quentin Tarantino

Finding True Romance - in Detroit? - And Escaping to Mexico

In director Tony Scott's romance-crime road film (with a script by Quentin Tarantino), the character of blonde Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette), a new call-girl in the city of Detroit, narrated in voice-over the beginning (under the credits) and ending monologues of the film. Comic-shop clerk and husband Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) was shot in the eye during the climax's brutal Mexican stand-off shootout between cops and gangsters in a Beverly Hills hotel. As the film concluded, they escaped and drove in an open convertible across the US/Mexican border. They were seen frolicking on a Cancun beach at sunset with their young son named Elvis:

(voice-over) "I had to come all the way from the highways and byways of Tallahassee, Florida to Motor City, Detroit to find my true love. If you gave me a million years to ponder, I would never have guessed that true romance and Detroit would ever go together. And to this day, the events that followed all seem like a distant dream. But the dream was real and was to change our lives forever. I kept asking Clarence why our world seemed to be collapsing and everything seemed so s--tty. And he'd say, 'That's the way it goes, but don't forget, it goes the other way too.' That's the way romance is. Usually, that's the way it goes. But every once in awhile, it goes the other way too."

(voice-over) "Amid the chaos of that day when all l could hear was the thunder of gunshots and all l could smell was the violence in the air, l look back and am amazed that my thoughts were so clear and true. That three words went through my mind endlessly, repeating themselves like a broken record. You're so cool. You're so cool. You're so cool. And sometimes Clarence asks me what I would have done if he had died. lf that bullet had been two inches more to the left. To this, l always smile, as if l'm not gonna satisfy him with a response. But l always do. l tell him of how l would want to die. That the anguish and the want of death would fade like the stars at dawn. And that things would be much as they are now. Perhaps. Except maybe l wouldn't have named our son Elvis."

True Romance (1993)
Screenwriter(s): Quentin Tarantino

How Sicilians Acquired Their Skin Color - A Deadly Insult

Top Pick

Ex-cop and security guard Clifford Worley (Dennis Hopper) delivered bold and inflammatory insults to Sicilian mobster Vincenzo Coccotti (Christopher Walken) during a torture interrogation, after being threatened "Make your answers genuine." Worley was asked about the whereabouts of his fleeing son Clarence (Christian Slater) after he had inadvertently committed a cocaine drug deal theft.

At first, steely-eyed Coccotti attempted to intimidate Worley during a Q&A session, including punching him in the face and slashing his hand, before boasting about how Sicilians could sense liars in their midst:

We're gonna have a little Q and A, and, at the risk of sounding redundant, please make your answers genuine....I have a son of my own. About your boy's age. I can imagine how painful this must be for you. But Clarence and that bitch-whore girlfriend of his brought this all on themselves. And I implore you not to go down that road with 'em. You can always take comfort in the fact you never had a choice....
That smarts, doesn't it? Gettin' slammed in the nose f--ks you all up. You got that pain shootin' through your brain. Your eyes fill up with water. It ain't any kind of fun. But what I have to offer you, that's as good as it's gonna get, and it won't ever get that good again. We talked to your neighbors. They saw a Cadillac, a purple Cadillac, Clarence's purple Cadillac, parked in front of your trailer yesterday. Mr. Worley, have you seen your son?...
I can't be sure of how much of what he told you, so in the chance you're in the dark about some of this, let me shed some light. That whore your boy hangs around with, her pimp is an associate of mine, and I don't just mean pimpin', in other affairs he works for me in a courier capacity. Well, apparently, that dirty little whore found out when we're gonna do some business, 'cause your son, the cowboy and his flame, came in the room blazing and didn't stop till they were pretty sure everybody was dead....I'm talkin' about a massacre. They snatched my narcotics and hightailed it outta there. Wouldda got away with it, but your son, f--khead that he is, left his driver's license in a dead guy's hand...

You know, Sicilians are great liars. The best in the world. I'm Sicilian. My father was the world heavyweight champion of Sicilian liars. From growing up with him, I learned the pantomime. There are seventeen different things a guy can do when he lies to give himself away. A guy's got seventeen pantomimes. A woman's got twenty, but a guy's got seventeen, but, if you know them like you know your own face, they beat lie detectors all to hell. Now, what we got here is a little game of show and tell. You don't wanna show me nothin'. but you're tellin' me everything. I know you know where they are, so tell me, before I do some damage you won't walk away from....

Knowing that he was going to die anyway, Worley insulted Coccotti:

You're Sicilian, huh?...You know, I read a lot. Especially about things, about history. I find that s--t fascinating. Here's a fact I don't know whether you know or not. Sicilians were spawned by niggers... It's a fact. Yeah, you see, uh, Sicilians have black blood pumpin' through their hearts. If you don't believe me, uh, you can look it up. Hundreds and hundreds of years ago, you see, uh, the Moors conquered Sicily. And the Moors are niggers. You see, way back then, uh, Sicilians were like wops in northern Italy. They all had blonde hair and blue eyes. But, uh, well, then the Moors moved in there, well, they changed the whole country. They did so much f--kin' with Sicilian women, huh, that they changed the whole blood-line forever. That's why blonde hair and blue eyes became black hair and dark skin. You know, it's absolutely amazing to me to think that to this day, hundreds of years later, that uh, that Sicilians still carry that nigger gene... I'm quotin' history. It's written. It's a fact. It's written...Your ancestors are niggers...Hey, yeah, and, and your great, great, great, great grandmother f--ked a nigger, yeah, and she had a half-nigger kid. Now, if that's a fact, tell me, am I lying? 'Cause you, you're part eggplant. (Laughter)

Coccotti laughed, responded: "You're a cantaloupe," stood up, kissed Worley on one cheek, walked away, then turned around with an automatic, put the barrel to Worley's skull, and pumped six bullets into his head and body, claiming: "I haven't killed anybody since 1984."

Best Film Speeches and Monologues
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