5 Great Speeches in Film

You may forget any film’s plot or characters, but you may never forget how that film made you feel. The power/memorability of speeches in film can be immense if handled right and in the hands of capable actors. Below are 5 memorable speeches found in films, coming from such great actors as Al Pacino, Mel Gibson, Ben Kingsley, Julia Roberts, and Leonardo DiCaprio.

I. Al Pacino as Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman (1992)

Al Pacino likely has the greatest “screen presence” of any living actor, and it is very surprising not to see this speech in many similar lists. Al Pacino plays blind Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, and this scene shows him trying to represent and defend student Charlie Simms (Chris O’Donnell) in a school hearing that discusses a prank and possible expulsions. Al Pacino gave terrific speeches in such films as Any Given Sunday (1999) and The Devil’s Advocate (1997), but the one in Scent of a Woman is undoubtedly one of the greatest speeches ever shot. The sheer artistry, power and command on display are simply breath-taking.

II. Mel Gibson as William Wallace in Braveheart (1995)

…they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!“. There is nothing like an inspirational battle speech in a historical action film, and no list of this kind can now do without Mel Gibson’s goosebumps-inducing speech as Scotland’s leader William Wallace who is pepping his troops for the forthcoming battle against the English in the year 1298.

III. Ben Kingsley as Mahatma Gandhi in Gandhi (1982)

“In this cause I, too, am prepared to die. But, my friend, there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill.” In this scene, Ben Kingsley’s dignified speech as India’s pacifist leader makes quite an impression. Gandhi calls for non-violent methods of resistance and protest against unfair British laws, and it seems that his audience is agreeing with his statements, having much respect for the orator. The film swooped many Academy Awards, including, of course, Best Actor in the Leading Role.

IV. Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich in Erin Brockovich (2000)

Julia Roberts says it like it is in this legal drama based on a true story. Her character’s passion, conviction and indignation regarding the injustice suffered by the victims of PG&E are evident in this, most badass speech in our cinematic history. In this story, PG&E is accused of contaminating water in Hinkley, California, causing severe health problems and even deaths of its residents. One small legal firm takes up the case, and see also similar-themed film Dark Waters (2019), starring Mark Ruffalo.

V. Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in The Aviator (2004)

There is a lot of talk of Leonardo DiCaprio’s speech in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), but I believe the one in The Aviator deserves just as much praise. Irrespective of what one thinks of DiCaprio’s presentation of the eminent American businessman, no one can deny the quiet power and conviction of his speech that took place during one of the hearings in which Hughes went head-to-head with Senator Owen Brewster. “I have lost millions…and I will go on losing millions. It’s just what I do”. The disarming effect of this statement cannot be overstated.


6 Comments Add yours

  1. msjadeli says:

    All good ones. Two of my favorites are Nicolas Cage in “Wild at Heart” and Kevin Costner in “Bull Durham.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. keith1942 says:

    The ‘great speeches’ are all mainstream and predominately from Hollywood. How about Ernesto Che Guevara (Benicio del Toro) in the 2008 ‘Che’ [Part 1]: or Rosa Luxemburg (Barbara Sukowa) in the film of the same name (1986): or Jacko Palmer (John Mills) in ‘Flame in the Street’ (1961)?


    1. All duly noted, million thanks!


  3. ManInBlack says:

    Go watch the first 30 minutes of the Japanese drama “Confessions” then thank me later. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will, and I will thank you now, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. ManInBlack says:

    The whole film is great btw – one of my faves! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.