Films can go down in history for a number of reasons. An actor’s performance can prove to be monumental, being applauded for its emotional articulation and power. A director can be inventive in his conception and execution of filming techniques, creating a visual outcome that is stunning and innovative. The photography, the editing, the music can be alluring, strategically used and eloquent in their expressive capacity.
But films also provide their audiences with a verbal legacy that is given through spirited dialogues and well-thought-out lines. Film buffs all over the world just love quoting the canny utterances of cinematic heroes, an act that exhibits their knowledge and love for the medium of cinema.
A nice quote undoubtedly adds to the memorability of a movie and helps the latter to be recollected and circulated to eternity. How many times has every single one of us turned to a friend, asking them, while raising one eyebrow, ”you talking to me?”, having the face of Robert deNiro popping up in our minds. How many of your Facebook friends have a quote from Fight Club’s Marla or Tyler featuring as a cover photo.
This is only a couple of examples of the ways that the writing of a movie can make it more quotable than the sayings of the Roman and ancient Greek philosophers. The list below presents only some of the most quotable films of the history of cinema, worth reciting until the end of Time.
15. The Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson, 2001, 2002, 2003)
Peter Jackson’s heroic trilogy features countless literally epic lines that were meant to be reverberated by audiences all over the world. Lord of the Rings is not only spectacular, with its magnificent battle scenes, but also articulate with words, exhibiting Tolkien’s expressive supremacy.
No one could ever forget Aragorn’s inspirational speech in front of the gates of Mordor, when the king of all men cries to his people ”A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight!” His speech has been recalled by countless viewers looking for some encouragement in his uplifting words.
Gandalf, though, is probably the character with the most quotable lines. ”You shall not pass,” ”Fly you fools,” and ”A wizard is never late” are only some of his utterances that have been constantly circulated, especially in humorous and satiric contexts. Originally hilarious quotes can be found in the conversations between the lazy but brave Merry and Pippin. ”What about a second breakfast?” and ”This my friend, is a pint” perfectly capture the personality of the two hobbit food and drink lovers.
14. Dead Poet’s Society (Peter Weir, 1989)
”Seize the day.” A simple and comprehensible phrase, not at all quirky or witty, was meant to be one of the most -if not the most- famous cinematic quotes of all times, uttered by a teacher who loved and cared for his job much less than he did for his students. John Keating is the new professor of an all-boys school, determined to change the way of thinking of his apprentices.
A lover of literature and poetry, the passionate man uses arts as a medium to show that ideas and ideals are worth living and fighting for. ”No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world” advices his students, preventing them from following materialistic and cynical lifestyles.
The teenage boys of the school are the sons of wealthy families, dictating to their progenies that riches and glory are the uttermost goals of someone’s life. Keating will play the role of the loyal opposition, employing humanism and compassion as his weapons. ”Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all,” he encourages his pupils. It will not be long before the boys will start hailing him as their captain.
13. Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979)
Woody Allen is a modern Oscar Wilde, father of ingenious quotes that touch upon all kinds of matters and can be employed by the audiences in various contexts. That’s the reason why choosing his most quotable film is a hard -if not impossible- thing to do, as every single of his films are filled with some of the most brilliant monologues and dialogues. Manhattan, however, just like Annie Hall, is regarded as one of his best written movies, due in no small part to the quotes of its heroes, that revolve around the human psychology, relationships and dysfunctionality.
”I can’t express anger. That’s my problem. I internalize everything. I just grow a tumour instead” proclaims the comedian, who is always occupied with his psychological issues and the problems that they cause him. His personal interrogations give their place to philosophical proclamations, exhibiting the shrewd intelligence of their author, like ”I think people should mate for life, like pigeons or Catholics.’
‘ Woody’s romantic side, mixed with cynicism and honesty, is expressed in various quotes, as the director’s heroes are always dedicated to the pursuit of love. ”My analyst warned me, but you were so beautiful I got another analyst” says the actor to one of his lovers, flirting in his distinctively clumsy but quirky manner.
12. When Harry Met Sally (Rob Reiner, 1989)
When Harry Met Sally is not your average romantic comedy. It doesn’t force emotions, it is originally light hearted and its heroes are not made of plastic, but are filled with flaws and weaknesses. Harry and Sally are friends, they meet each other and lose contact, only to meet up again.
They are afraid to form an intimate relationship with the thought that it would ruin their communication and chemistry but their feelings force them to give it a try. ”I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible” confines Harry to his beloved friend.
The most popular quote, though, comes from a scene where the two heroes eat together in a restaurant, discussing about faking orgasms. Sally decides to imitate how a woman can persuasively fake an orgasm in order to prove to Harry that it is highly possible to do so. After her imitation finishes, a woman that is sitting near them, turns to the waiter and says ”I’ll have what she is having” tempted by Sally’s performance. The lines of the movie are as smart and joyful as its protagonists and their love story.
11. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, 1975)
The members of the Monty Python are the fathers of British comedy, masters of witty sketches and quirky quotes. Their intellectual and absurd humour, filled with social and political commentary, has become synonymous to the very genre of comedy and has offered the audiences countless hours of hearty laughing.
One could argue that Life of Brian is their most hilarious film, using its biblical plot as an excuse to sharply satirise the foundations and values of religion. But Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the movie that abounds with priceless quotes of authentically surrealistic humour accompanied by amusing physical action.
”I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!” shouts the French soldier to the goofy knights that are approaching his castle. King Arthur’s company is anything but respected and their mythical valiant and lionhearted values are caricatured and ridiculed by the comedy group.
When the wanna-be gallant Arthur meets two humble peasants on his trip, he proclaims his authority on them by saying ”I am your king.” One of the two men spontaneously frowns at him, replying ”I didn’t vote for you.” Such quotes are customary in the side-splitting films that consist Monty Python’s absurd universe.
10. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
Even the most enthusiastic fan of Tarantino’s work would admit that the artist’s unstudied talent can be traced, above all else, in the dialogues that he writes. From the diner scene in Reservoir Dogs to the trunk shot scene of Jackie Brown and from the hilarious monologues of Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds to the hilarious lines of Django in Django Unchained, Quentin has proven himself as one of the most dexterous writers of his generation.
This fact partly springs from the filmmaker’s main occupation as a film buff. Tarantino only reproduces what he likes himself; quirky dialogues filled with venomous irony and farcical humour.
Pulp Fiction features a bunch of memorable quotes that perfectly capture Quentin’s personality. When Jules and Vincent talk to each other, their conversations exhibit a unique uproarious essence. ”What do they call a Big Mac [in France]?” wonders Jules. ”Well, a Big Mac is a Big Mac, but they call it le Big Mac” replies Vincent.
Absurd lines like these ones smoothly give their place to cynical, philosophical ones uttered by Mia Wallace like ”That’s when you know you’ve found someone really special. When you can just shut the fuck up for a minute and comfortably share silence.” Pulp Fiction is probably Tarantino’s best film, no small part to its original ingenious quotes.
9. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
War films are not usually quoted so much, as their images are naturally much stronger than their words. Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, though, features some lines that are unforgettable, powerful or even haunting. First of all, lieutenant Kilgore’s ”I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”
The man, played by Robert Duvall, recalls, with a nostalgic smile on his face a morning after a long bombarding, when the smell of the napalm made the stench of the dead bodies disappear. This macabre image is given by the lieutenant in a grotesque lyrical way and this very fact fiercely highlights the monstrosity of the war.
The most memorable quote of the movie, however, can be traced in colonel Kurtz’s very last words: ”The horror…the horror” evocative and affective in their laconic articulation. Marlon Brando’s trembling, but still weighty, voice echoes in the head of the viewer long after the end of the film.
Apocalypse Now is a film that unveils the horror of the war and the hypocrisy that accompanies it. As Kurtz observes ”We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won’t allow them to write “fuck” on their airplanes because it’s obscene!” Coppola’s masterpiece is sharp and robust, using its heroes’ quotes as social and political commentary.