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- 1+ 55- 17Sons of Scotland! I am William Wallace....Yes, I've heard. Kills men by the hundreds. And if he were here, he'd consume the English with fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning from his arse. I am William Wallace! And I see a whole army of my country men, here, in defiance of tyranny. You've come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight? ...Aye, fight and you may die, run and you'll live, at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom! Alba gu bra! (Scotland forever!)
Mel Gibson's speech as Scottish fighter William Wallace in 1995's "Braveheart" defines inspirational. This is how you motivate your troops!
- 2+ 33- 7'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? Carpe. Hear it? Carpe. Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys. Make your lives extraordinary.
Robin Williams delivers this incredible monologue in 1989's inspirational (and horribly sad) "Dead Poets Society." Just watch. Enough said. It's beautiful.
- 3+ 25- 6I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country. Men, all this stuff you've heard about America not wanting to fight - wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans traditionally love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, big league ball players, the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war, because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans.
Now, an army is a team - it lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap. The bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Saturday Evening Post don't know anything more about real battle than they do about fornicating. Now, we have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. You know, by God, I actually pity those poor bastards we're goin' up against. By God, I do. We're not just gonna shoot the bastard, we're going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun bastards by the bushel.
Now, some of you boys, I know, are wondering whether or not you'll chicken out under fire. Don't worry about it. I can assure you that you will all do your duty. The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them, spill their blood, shoot them in the belly. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo that a moment before was your best friend's face, you'll know what to do.
Now there's another thing I want you to remember. I don't want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We're not holding anything. Let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly and we're not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We're going to hold onto him by the nose and we're gonna kick him in the ass. We're gonna kick the hell out of him all the time and we're gonna go through him like crap through a goose.
Now, there's one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back home, and you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now when you're sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you: 'What did you do in the Great World War II?', you won't have to say: 'Well, I shoveled s--t in Louisiana.'
All right now, you sons-of-bitches, you know how I feel - and I will be proud to lead you wonderful guys into battle anytime, anywhere. That's all.
George C. Scott delivers quite possibly THE most inspirational opening movie speech in film history in 1970's "Patton," offering up motivation to his troops (who aren't seen). This movie speech does include some of the real General Patton's words, by the way).
- 4+ 32- 16Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. Mankind - that word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it's fate that today is the 4th of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom. Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution, but from annihilation. We're fighting for our right to live, to exist. And should we win the day, the 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice: 'We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on!' We're going to survive!' Today we celebrate our Independence Day!
Okay, so you're surprised this speech from 1996's "Independence Day" made the cut, right? Don't be. Watch it again and really listen as President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman) rallies his fighter pilot troops before their final showdown. Great stuff.
- 5+ 25- 10Gentlemen, I shall be brief, but I would like to use my remaining time with you to remind you that the case of Mayella Ewell vs. Tom Robinson is not a difficult one. To begin with, this case should have never come to trial. The State has not produced one iota of medical evidence that shows that the crime Tom Robinson is charged with ever took place. This case is as simple as black and white. It requires no minute sifting of complicated facts, but it does require you to be sure beyond all reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the defendant.
Miss Ewell did something that in our society is unspeakable: she is white, and she tempted a Negro. The defendant is not guilty, but someone in this courtroom is. I have nothing but pity in my heart for the chief witness for the state, but my pity does not extend so far as to her putting a man's life at stake. She knew full well the enormity of her offense, but because her desires were stronger than the code she was breaking, she persisted. The state of Alabama has relied solely upon the testimony of two witnesses who's evidence has not only been called into serious question, but has been flatly contradicted by the defendant.
I need not remind you of their appearance and conduct on the stand. They have presented themselves in the cynical confidence that their testimony would not be doubted. They were confident that you, the jury, would go along with the evil assumption that all Negro's lie, and are immoral. Mr. Robinson is accused of rape, when it was she who made the advances on him. He put his word against two white people's, and now he is on trial for no apparent reason- except that he is black.
Thomas Jefferson once said that all men are created equal, a phrase that the government is fond of hurling at us. There is a tendency in this year of grace, 1935, for certain people to use that phrase out of context, to satisfy all conditions. We know that all men are not created equal in the sense that some people would have us believe. Some people are smarter than others, some people have more opportunity because they are born with it, some men have more money than others, and some people are more gifted than others.
But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal. An institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the ignorant man the equal of any president, and the stupid man the equal of Einstein. That institution is the court. But a court is only as sound as its jury, and the jury is only as sound as the men who make it up.
I am confident that you gentlemen will review without passion the evidence you have heard, come to a decision, and restore the defendant to his family. In the name of God, do your duty. In the name of God, gentlemen, believe Tom Robinson.
No list of inspirational speeches would be complete without Gregory Peck's awe-inspiring turn as Atticus Finch in 1962's "To Kill a Mockingbird."
- 6+ 18- 8Just get up off the ground, that's all I ask. Get up there with that lady that's up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something. And you won't just see scenery; you'll see the whole parade of what Man's carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting. Fighting for something better than just jungle law, fighting so as he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed. That's what you'd see. There's no place out there for graft, or greed, or lies, or compromise with human liberties. And, uh, if that's what the grownups have done with this world that was given to them, then we'd better get those boys' camps started fast and see what the kids can do. And it's not too late, because this country is bigger than the Taylors, or you, or me, or anything else. Great principles don't get lost once they come to light. They're right here; you just have to see them again...
James Stewart's character, Senator Jefferson Smith, gives the inspirational speech of his life in 1939's classic "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." Smith delivers this incredible speech on the Senate floor after 23 hours and 16 minutes of filibustering. Democracy. It's all about fighting for Democracy. And fighting corruption. And more than 70 years later, it still seems extremely timely.
- 7+ 20- 11I'm sorry, but I don't want to be an emperor. That's not my business. I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible: Jew, Gentile, black men, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each others' happiness, not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another. In this world, there's room for everyone and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men's souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.
We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all.
Even now, my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me, I say: 'Do not despair.' The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.
Soldiers! Don't give yourselves to brutes. Men who despise you, enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder! Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men - machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don't hate! Only the unloved hate, the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers! Don't fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!
In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it is written the kingdom of God is within man, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power. Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a f*ture and old age a security.
By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill their promise. They never will! Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance! Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men's happiness. Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite! (Cheers)
Hannah, can you hear me? Wherever you are, look up, Hannah! The clouds are lifting! The sun is breaking through! We are coming out of the darkness into the light! We are coming into a new world, a kindlier world, where men will rise above their hate, their greed and brutality.
Look up, Hannah! The soul of man has been given wings and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow! Into the light of hope! Into the f*ture, the glorious f*ture that belongs to you, to me, and to all of us. Look up, Hannah! Look up!
Charlie Chaplin delivers the (pro-Democracy) speech of his life at the end of 1940's "The Great Dictator." "Hannah, look up!" He's not an emperor, he's a Jewish barber. But you sure as hell wouldn't know that.
- 8+ 24- 15Anybody know what this place is? This is Gettysburg. This is where they fought the battle of Gettysburg. Fifty thousand men died right here on this field, fightin' the same fight that we're still fightin' amongst ourselves today. This green field right here, painted red, bubblin' with the blood of young boys. Smoke and hot lead pourin' right through their bodies. Listen to their souls, men. I killed my brother with malice in my heart. Hatred destroyed my family. You listen, you take a lesson from the dead.
If we don't come together right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed, just like they were. I don't care if you like each other right now, but you will respect each other. And maybe - I don't know, maybe we'll learn to play this game like men.
This list of inspirational movie speeches does include a whole lot of sports-related movies, but really let's face it: Coaches give inspirational speeches, period. At least, the great ones do. Like Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) in 2000's "Remember the Titans." Awesome movie, awesome scene and awesome speech.