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These Movie Speeches and Monologues Stirred the Soul

Some people view movies as a form of escapism. Some watch them to get a few thrills. Many others watch them for inspiration. For several years now, spectacular film speeches have made a special place in people’s hearts, inspiring them in very real ways. Because, let’s face it, in times of trouble, when you need a bit of help getting up and moving, some positive words of motivation and encouragement from a movie character can make a world of difference.

Some movie speeches have become as well-known as the films themselves. Sometimes, they become sources of inspiration, whether they are world leaders encouraging their nations to fight back, coaches rousing their players, or commanders urging their squadrons to succeed. Here, we’ve chosen the fifteen most powerful motivational speeches in film history that can inspire anyone.

Related: When Times are Hard, Remember These 7 Encouraging Speeches

1. The Great Dictator (1940) – “You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men!”

The Great Dictator, starring Charlie Chaplin, was an important film that satirized Adolf Hitler and Nazism and condemned anti-Semitism. Chaplin played a Jewish barber who is mistakenly identified as a tyrannical dictator. Amid chaos, he delivers a heartfelt plea for sanity and empathy at a Nuremberg-style rally. This moving speech, delivered at a time when Europe was in the grip of World War II, struck a chord with millions of people around the world.

2. Gladiator (2000) – “As one.”

In this epic scene from the Oscar-winning movie Gladiator, former Roman General Maximus (Russell Crowe) is standing before a bloodthirsty crowd with a motley crew of gladiators. Realizing what has been plotted against them, he rallies the gladiators into a formidable fighting force. Despite its simplicity, Maximus' message is profound: “Whatever comes out of these gates, we've got a better chance of survival if we work together. If we stay together we survive.”

3. Braveheart (1995) – “Freedom”

Most moviegoers recall the line "Freedom!" from Braveheart, but the rest of the speech is equally impressive. Mel Gibson portrays William Wallace, who led the Scottish against King Edward the Longshanks of England. He exhorted the free men of Scotland to fight for their freedom before the Battle of Stirling. In his words, he reminds his men that their dream of a free and independent Scotland is worth everything.  This is based on the real speech that William Wallace gave before the Battle of Stirling.

4. Rocky Balboa (2006) – “It ain’t about how hard you hit.”

Although Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa is known more for his prowess in the boxing ring, he does, on occasion, impart some hard-earned advice to people. Following the death of his wife, Adrian, Rocky, in this installment of the series, is now a restaurant owner, drifting through life. The now-retired Rocky faces scorn and criticism after agreeing to fight the current boxing champion, especially from his only son Robert, who blames him for his woes. This is when Rocky gives his son a dressing down for blaming him and delivers those immortal words: “It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.

5. Rudy (1993) - "Since when are you the quitting kind?"

Rudy is perhaps the finest underdog sports movie of all time. This film stars Sean Astin as Rudy, the kid who can't seem to catch a break. Almost the entire time, you believe that Rudy is not going to be able to play football. When Rudy is benched by the newly appointed football coach, he quits the team, and all hope seems lost. Then he meets Fortune, the groundskeeper, who lambastes him for giving up so easily and reveals something about himself that motivates Rudy to keep going. A truly soul-stirring scene from a brilliant movie. 

6. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) – “You got a dream, you gotta protect it.”

This melodramatic, sad, and touching story is based on the true story of Chris Gardner (Will Smith), a San Francisco salesman struggling to provide for himself and his 5-year-old son. In this scene, Gardner teaches his son to pursue his dreams, even when people around him consider them impossible. A major theme of the speech is not to listen to people who believe you are not capable of achieving your goals. While the entire film is heartfelt, this particular scene in particular lifts your spirits.

Related: These Beautiful Quotes Came from Some Amazing Movies

7. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – “Get busy living.”

Get busy living or get busy dying.” Oh, yes! The uplifting scene in this movie features Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), convincing his fellow inmate "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman) that they are capable of and will succeed in making a life for themselves outside of prison. Redding admits to being terrified of life outside and tells his friend that he lacks the confidence to even consider escaping. However, when he discovers that Andy will not let adversity keep him from hoping and pursuing his dreams, he considers his own future. In a movie teeming with memorable moments, this one became one that people related to the most.

8. Miracle on Ice (2004) – “You were born for this.”

Miracle On Ice is based on the real-life story of how the 1980 US Olympic hockey team triumphed over their Russian rivals. The team’s coach, Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell), assembles a team of amateurs to compete against the world's finest hockey players. Against all odds, the team reaches the semi-finals. Prior to that do-or-die match against the Russians, Brooks speaks to the team as they sit in the locker room. "Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world," he tells them. You'll also experience a surge of pride and inspiration as you listen to this speech.

9. Good Will Hunting (1997) – “You're terrified of what you might say.”

Motivational speeches do not have to be loud and commanding, accompanied by dramatic music. Here's an inspirational speech from the Robin Williams film Good Will Hunting that ranks among the best. In this scene, therapist Sean Maguire (Williams) shares a poignant moment with math prodigy Will Hunting (Matt Damon). Hunting sees a painting in Maguire’s office and assumes he knows everything about him by just looking at it. The therapist isn’t impressed and imparts his wisdom to the street-tough Will.

Unless you want to talk about you, who you are," says Robin Williams in the memorable scene. “Then I’m fascinated. I’m in. But you don't wanna do that, do you, sport? You're terrified of what you might say.

10. Invictus (2009) – “This is it! This is our destiny!”

The movie follows the Springboks, South Africa’s National Rugby Union team, during the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Apartheid had effectively ended in the country following the release of Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) from prison in 1990. However, South Africa still remained divided, with a bloody history and racial tensions between the Afrikaners and the indigenous people. Mandela saw hope in the Springboks to bring the people together.

After beating heavyweights France, Western Samoa, and Australia in the tournament, the Springboks square off against the legendary New Zealand All Blacks. In overtime, South African rugby captain François Pienaar urges his team to fight on for victory.

When seen from a broader perspective, the seemingly insignificant moment makes an even more meaningful impact.

Related: These Inspiring Sports Movies Will Surely Lift Your Mood

11. Henry V (1989) – “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.”

A list like this is incomplete without mentioning this iconic speech. Kenneth Branagh, playing Henry V, recites the famous 'Band of Brothers' speech from William Shakespeare's Henry V to an outnumbered force about to fight the French. “From this day to the ending of the world, but we shall be remembered – we few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother”. In his delivery, Branagh expresses joy rather than awe. With promises of immortality, he rallies his men with a wide smile on his face. Modern Shakespeare rarely contains such passion and truth.

12. Independence Day (1996) – “Today will no longer be known as an American holiday.”

Okay, yeah, this one’s loaded with huge dollops of cheese, but you can’t deny that it just works. The aliens have pretty much conquered Earth on Independence Day. When all hope seems lost, we are finally ready to fight back and launch one final assault on the marauding aliens. None of the pilots know if they will return or even be successful. Bill Pullman, as President of the United States, then addresses the audience on the importance of humankind and friendship among all nations. This speech is made all the more powerful since it takes place on Independence Day, evoking a sense of pride in the nation and the world as a whole.

13. Saving Private Ryan (1998) – “That’s my mission.”

Tom Hanks plays the reticent Captain John H. Miller, who leads his troop to find and save Private James Ryan after the Normandy invasion. As the rescue mission reaches its peak, his soldiers lose faith in what they are doing and begin to snap at one another. Miller commands his wayward crew’s attention by revealing truths about his past and his mission.

I don't know anything about Ryan, I don't care. The man means nothing to me, he's just a name. But If going to Rumelle and finding him so that he can go home. If that earns me the right to get back to my wife, then that’s my mission." No dramatic yelling here; just a man explaining his life's story and why he will not give up on this dangerous mission.

14. Dead Poets Society (1989) – “Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”

As an unorthodox English teacher, John Keating, Robin Williams stunned audiences with the performance of a lifetime, showcasing once again that he can excel in serious roles. While dealing with a bored English class in a stuffy prep school, Keating, who wants to break the mold, makes his students leave their classroom. He tells them to "seize the day"—live life before they eventually die. “Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary."

It’s easily one of the most haunting and motivational scenes in movie history.

15. Any Given Sunday (1999) – “Inch By inch”

We end this list with another rousing speech by a coach. This electrifying monologue from Any Given Sunday is often quoted and shared, and it's easy to see why. It's heartfelt, brutally honest, and arresting. And Al Pacino makes it a work of art. In this story, his character, an aging, beaten-down football coach, inherits the Miami Sharks, and is tasked with whipping the team into shape. When the team miraculously makes it to the playoffs, the coach addresses them in the locker room, sharing with them his own experiences - accompanied by some fantastic music. He admits that it's easy to be discouraged, but believes that giving up should never be an option.

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