Russell Brunelle (russellb) wrote,
Russell Brunelle

Inspirational movie speeches

I love inspirational speeches in movies, when they're done well. The best of these are the brief, passionate, poem-like rallying speeches given by a commander to his troops just before a battle: examples include the "what we do in this life echoes in eternity" speech in Gladiator, or the "you are the first brigade" speech from Gods and Generals. Return of the King, of course, has a few of the best.

I'd been turning some of the latter over in my mind while riding into Pensacola, basically savoring them, and today on a lark looked up the text of them online. Surprisingly, in a few cases I had misheard what was being said, but in my opinion my misheard versions were better :)

For example, in Aragorn's rally before the Black Gates, here's what was said: "An hour of woes and shattered shields when the age of men comes crashing down." But what I heard was: "An hour of WOLVES and shattered shields when the age of men comes crashing down."

Personally, I like my version: not only is "wolves" vivid in the same way that "shattered shields" is, but it effectively connotes the desolation and collapse of civilization that would accompany such a defeat.

Similarly, in Theoden's rallying speech before his death, he said: "A sword day, a red day, ere the sun rises!" I heard "AND the sun rises." The real version seems to simply be warning the troops that the battle would be difficult, but with the change of "ere" to "and" the scope changes dramatically - you can either take it to mean that time and the world survive our deaths, or you can take the rising sun as a metaphor for the afterlife which all of the troops probably felt they were destined to meet (this last usage reminding me of Thoreau's description of moving on from this world at the end of his essay Walking).
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