Movie speeches are a great opportunity see how much impact you can have in a short space of time.
I watched ‘Fair Game’ last night (with Sean Penn and Naomi Watts) which ended with a powerful movie speech. Powerful and short. In fact, the best movie speeches are only about 100 seconds. (The Gettysburg Address was about 2 min long).
Hopefully this will get you in the mood to produce powerful business presentations (most of which are longer than they need to be).
And by the way, the movie speakers don’t rush. There are long pauses. In fact, they generally speak at half the pace of most business presentations. Yet they convey so much.
You can say a lot in a minute or two if you clarify your ideas and craft your messages.
(Less than a min) Ali was a master at getting a poetic rhythm in his speeches. Like a dance (which is the way he boxed). Here he defends his decision not to participate in the war in Vietnam. Watch this movie speech here.
“I ain’t draft-dodgin.’ I ain’t burnin’ no flag. And I ain’t runnin’ to Canada. I’m stayin’ right here.
You wanna send me to jail? Fine, you go right ahead. I’ve been in jail for 400 years. I can be there for 4 or 5 more.
But I ain’t goin’ no 10,000 miles to help murder and kill other poor people. If I wanna die, I’ll die right here, right now fightin’ you — if I wanna die.
You my enemy. Not no Chinese, no Viet Cong, no Japanese.
You my opposer — when I want freedom.
You my opposer — when I want justice.
You my opposer — when I want equality.
Want me to go to somewhere and I fight for you? You won’t even stand up for me right here in America for my rights and my religious beliefs. You won’t even stand up for me right here at home.”
A Beautiful Mind (2002)
(Just over 1 min) Movie speech where John Nash accepts the 1994 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Watch the movie speech here.
“I’ve always believed in numbers and the equations and logics that lead to reason.
But after a lifetime of such pursuits, I ask,
What truly is logic? Who decides reason?
My quest has taken me through the physical, the metaphysical, the delusional — and back. And I have made the most important discovery of my career, the most important discovery of my life: It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logic or reasons can be found.
I’m only here tonight because of you [wife, Alicia]. You are the reason I am. You are all my reasons. Thank you.”
Fair Game (2011)
(Less than 2 mins) Enlightening movie speech about the decision to go to war in iraq. Watch the movie speech here.
“How many of you know the 16 words in President Bush’s State of the Union Address that led us to war? (none) How many know my wife’s name? (everyone).
How can you know one, and not the other? When did the question move from ‘Why are we going to war?’ to ‘Who is this man’s wife?’
I asked the first question, and somebody else asked the second. And it worked. Because none of us know the truth. The offence that was committed was not committed against me, it was not committed against my wife – it was committed against you. All of you.
If that makes you angry or feel misrepresented, do something about it.
When Benjamin Franklin left Independence Hall, just after the second draft of it, he was approached by a woman on the street, the woman said, ‘Mr Franklin, what manner of government have you bequeathed us? And Franklin said, ‘A Republic madam… if you can keep it.’
The responsibility of a country is not in the hands of a privileged few. We are strong and we are free from tyranny as long as each one of us remembers his or her duty as a citizen. Whether it’s to report a pothole at the top of your street, or lies in a State of The Union Address, speak out! Ask those questions. Demand that truth. Democracy is not a free ride man, I’m here to tell you.
But this is where we live. And if we do our job, this is where our children will live. God bless America.”
Wall street (1987)
(3 mins) One of the classic movie speeches where Gordon Ghekko convinces shareholders to vote for his business plan with his ‘Greed is good‘ message. Watch the movie speech here.
“Well, ladies and gentlemen, we’re not here to indulge in fantasy, but in political and economic reality. America has become a second-rate power. Its trade deficit and its fiscal deficit are at nightmare proportions. Now, in the days of the free market, when our country was a top industrial power, there was accountability to the stockholder. The Carnegies, the Mellons, the men that built this great industrial empire, made sure of it because it was their money at stake. Today, management has no stake in the company!
All together, these men sitting up here [Teldar management] own less than 3 percent of the company. And where does Mr. Cromwell[CEO] put his million-dollar salary? Not in Teldar stock; he owns less than 1 percent.
You own the company. That’s right — you, the stockholder.
Teldar Paper has 33 different vice presidents, each earning over 200 thousand dollars a year. Now, I have spent the last two months analyzing what all these guys do, and I still can’t figure it out. One thing I do know is that our paper company lost 110 million dollars last year, and I’ll bet that half of that was spent in all the paperwork going back and forth between all these vice presidents.
And you are all being royally screwed over by these, these bureaucrats, with their steak lunches, their hunting and fishing trips, their corporate jets and golden parachutes.
The new law of evolution in corporate American seems to be survival of the un-fittest. Well in my book you either do it right or you get eliminated. In the last seven deals that I’ve been involved with there were 2.5 million stockholders who have made a pre-tax profit of 11 million dollars. I am not a destroyer of companies, I am a liberator of them!
The point is ladies and gentlemen that Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed in all of its forms. Greed for life, money, love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind, and greed – you mark my words – will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A.
Thank you very much.”
The Verdict (1982)
(2 mins 45 seconds) Best movie speech: Frank Galvin’s closing argument to win the un-winnable case. Watch this great movie speech here.
“Well…You know, so much of the time we’re just lost. We say, “Please, God, tell us what is right. Tell us what is true.”
I mean there is no justice. The rich win; the poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie. And after a time we become dead, a little dead. We think of ourselves as victims — and we become victims. We become weak; we doubt ourselves; we doubt our beliefs; we doubt our institutions; and we doubt the law.
But today you are the law. You are the law, not some book, not the lawyers, not a marble statue, or the trappings of the court. See, those are just symbols of our desire to be just. They are, in fact, a prayer, I mean a fervent and a frightened prayer.
In my religion, they say, “Act as if you had faith; faith will be given to you.”
If we are to have faith in justice we need only to believe in ourselves and act with justice. See, I believe there is justice in our hearts.”
(90 seconds) One of the most devious movie speeches; where Alec Baldwin plays a Doctor intentionally losing a malpractice suit to collect a share of the insurance money. Watch the movie speech here.
“The question is, “Do I have a ‘God Complex’?
Which makes me wonder if this lawyer has any idea as to the kind of grades one has to receive in college to be accepted at a top medical school.
Or if you have the vaguest clue as to how talented someone has to be to lead a surgical team.
I have an M.D. from Harvard. I am board certified in cardiothoracic medicine and trauma surgery. I have been awarded citations from seven different medical boards in New England; and I am never, ever sick at sea.
So I ask you, when someone goes into that chapel and they fall on their knees and they pray to God that their wife doesn’t miscarry, or that their daughter doesn’t bleed to death, or that their mother doesn’t suffer acute neural trauma from postoperative shock, who do you think they’re praying to? Now, you go ahead and read your Bible, Dennis, and you go to your church and with any luck you might win the annual raffle. But if you’re looking for God, he was in operating room number two on November 17th, and he doesn’t like to be second guessed.
Let me tell you something:You ask me if I have a God complex?
I AM GOD.
….and this side show is over.”
(Less than 2 mins) Dramatic yet calm movie speech advocating a policy of non-violence while opposing an unjust law. Listen to the movie speech here.
Person from the large, angry audience: “In this cause, I would be willing to die!”
Gandhi: I praise such courage. I need such courage because in this cause I, too, am prepared to die. But, my friend, there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill. Whatever they do to us, we will attack no one, kill no one, but we will not give our fingerprints — not one of us.
They will imprison us, and they will fine us. They will seize our possessions, but they cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them.
Audience Member: Have you been to prison?! They beat us and torture us! I say that we should –
Gandhi: I am asking you to fight! To fight against their anger, not to provoke it. We will not strike a blow, but we will receive them. And through our pain we will make them see their injustice, and it will hurt — as all fighting hurts. But we cannot lose. We cannot. They may torture my body, break my bones, even kill me. Then, they will have my dead body — not my obedience.
We are Hindu and Muslim, children of God, each one of us. Let us take a solemn oath, in His name, that come what may we will not submit to this law.”
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
(2 mins) Great movie speech where Morgan Freeman’s character ‘Redding’ addresses the parole board for the final time. Watch the movie speech here.
Parole Board Interviewer: Please, sit down. Ellis Boyd Redding, your files say you’ve served 40 years of a life sentence. You feel you’ve been rehabilitated?
Redding: Rehabilitated? Well, now, let me see. You know, I don’t have any idea what that means.
Parole Board Interviewer: Uh, well, it means you’re ready to rejoin society.
Redding: I know what you think it means, sonny. To me, it’s just a made up word, a politician’s word, so that young fellas like yourself can wear a suit and a tie and have a job. What do you really wanna know? Am I sorry for what I did?
Parole Board Interviewer: Well, are you?
Redding: There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret. Not because I’m in here, or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then, a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I wanna talk to him. I wanna try to talk some sense to him — tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone and this old man is all that’s left. I gotta live with that.
Rehabilitated? It’s just a bullshit word.
So you go on and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don’t give a shit.
Parole Board Interviewer: [Stamp: APPROVED]
If you’d like to develop skills to get big ideas across in a short space of time, consider: