Because movies often blend history and drama, it's difficult to assess whether or not some of the most memorable movie lines are based in truth, or a case of writers adding stuff for dramatic effect. More often than you'd suspect, many of the most biting quotes from movies can be attributed to actual individuals.
While some of the best insults, the most devious rejoinders, and the boldest fighting quotes from movies may take a bit of poetic license, they also offer up a whole lot of savage honesty. Which one of these quotes is the most surprisingly real?
The Line 'Then We Will Fight In The Shade' From ‘300’ Was Taken From An Actual Historical Account Of The BattlePhoto: Warner Bros.
Persian: "A thousand nations of the Persian empire will descend upon you. Our arrows will blot out the sun!"
Stelios: "Then we will fight in the shade."
Speaker(s): Kwasi Songui plays the Persian soldier in 300 (2006) whose words prompt Stelios (Michael Fassbender), one of the Spartan fighters, to respond about fighting in the shade.
Context: In the movie 300, Stelios represents Dienekes, one of the Spartan soldiers who fought at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. The battle pit a small number of Spartan forces against the entire Persian military, tasked with holding off the enemy while the rest of Greece prepared for an incursion. As one of the best-known battles of the Persian Wars, King Leonidas I of Sparta and his hoplites fought against King Xerxes I of Persia's infantry and cavalry forces.
The Persian ranks featured large numbers of archers, but their arrows were of little consequence to the well-trained and heavily armored Spartans. Hoplites carried hoplons, with sturdy wooden shields covered with bronze strapped to their arms for protection.
When Dienekes was told that Persian arrows "obscured the light of the sun," the Spartan soldier was "not dismayed." Fifth century BC historian Herodotus indicates that Dienekes saw the arrows as "very good news, for if the [Persians] obscured the light of the sun, the battle against them would be in the shade and not in the sun."27225Surprisingly real?
Benjamin Martin’s Speech About '3,000 Tyrants One Mile Away' In ‘The Patriot’ Was A Line From Massachusetts Loyalist Mather BylesPhoto: Sony Pictures Releasing
Quote: "Would you tell me please, Mr. Howard, why should I trade one tyrant 3,000 miles away for 3,000 tyrants 1 mile away?"
Speaker: Benjamin Martin (played by Mel Gibson) in The Patriot (2000).
Context: Though Benjamin Martin is a fictitious character created for The Patriot, he is largely based on Francis Marion. Marion served in the Revolutionary War, leading his militia men through South Carolina and Georgia with such elusiveness that the British dubbed him "Swamp Fox."
Marion is not the man who uttered the words spoken by Gibson, however. The statement about the proximity of tyranny has been attributed to Mather Byles. Born in 1706, educated at Harvard, and a well-regarded clergyman, Byles lived in Boston during the Revolutionary War. He was known for his sermons and his poetry, but was a loyalist to the British crown.
After the British Massacre in 1770, Byles questioned why he was called "a brainless Tory." He asked, "Which is better - to be ruled by one tyrant 3,000 miles away, or by 3,000 tyrants not 1 mile away?" In the wake of the siege of Boston in 1775, Byles stayed in the city, even after the British were pushed out of Boston.
Later sentenced to be deported as a British sympathizer, Byles defied the order and underwent house arrest instead.13121Surprisingly real?
- 3Photo: Patton / 20th Century Fox
Quote: "Be seated. Now, I want you to remember that no b*stard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb b*stard 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."
Speaker: General George S. Patton (played by George C. Scott) in Patton (1970).
Context: In Patton, the titular character delivers these words to the Third Army in anticipation of the D-Day invasion in 1944. The specific wording of Patton's statements remain muddied in historical retellings, but all versions attest to the spirit of the message.
Patton was known to offer rousing oratories to his men before going into battle. In his own diary, Patton mentioned giving a speech, noting, "As in all my talks, I stressed fighting and killing."
Never one to shy away from speaking his mind, profanity and all, Patton demonstrated his style the previous year when he addressed soldiers sent from North Africa to Italy. He told them, "I want you to remember that no son of a b*tch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb son of a b*tch die for his country."
- Age: Dec. at 60 (1885-1945)
- Birthplace: San Gabriel, California
- 4Photo: Paramount Pictures
Ismay: "But this ship can't sink!"
Thomas Andrews: "She's made of iron, sir! I assure you, she can... and she will. It is a mathematical certainty."
Context: Ismay was the head of the White Star Line, the company that owned and operated RMS Titanic. Representing the company's interest while aboard the luxury liner, Ismay is shown pushing Captain E.J. Smith (Bernard Hill) to increase RMS Titanic's speed to "make headlines." After Titanic struck the iceberg, Ismay questions the severity of the damage to the ship, even arguing with the ship's builder, Thomas Andrews, that RMS Titanic can not sink. Andrews corrects him, using science to back his assertions that RMS Titanic is destined for the bottom of the ocean.
The exchange between Ismay and Andrews is a mix of things reportedly said as the RMS Titanic sank in April 1912. Ismay allegedly had a conversation similar to the one featured in the movie, but it was with Captain Smith instead of Andrews. During an inquiry into the sinking conducted by the US government, Ismay testified that he asked Smith, "What had happened... he said, 'We have struck ice.' I said, 'Do you think the ship is seriously damaged?' He said, 'I am afraid she is.'"
Andrews, for his part, assessed the damage to the ship and began telling passengers to evacuate. According to one of the last telegrams sent from RMS Titanic, Andrews knew the ship's fate and was "last seen... throwing desk chairs, other objects, to people in the water. His chief concern safety of everyone but himself."
One survivor recalled Andrews asserting the ship would sink within the hour, something he "could hardly believe... and yet if he said so, it must be true.... No one was better qualified to know.”
Ismay survived the sinking of RMS Titanic, while Andrews did not.
- Age: Dec. at 39 (1873-1912)
- Birthplace: Comber, United Kingdom