Throughout my entertainment experience, I’ve come across a few speeches that stuck with me for their way with words – that is, a combination of the actual words used and the way they are delivered.
Here are my favourites:
Starcraft – Arcturus Mengsk’s Coronation Speech
I’ve covered this before, with screenshots, but here it is again. That time the transcript was done personally by ear.
Fellow Terrans, I come to you in the wake of recent events to issue a call to reason. Let no human deny the perils of our time.
While we battle one another, divided by the petty strife of our common history, the tide of a greater conflict is turning against us, threatening to destroy all that we have accomplished.
It is time for us as nations and as individuals to set aside our long-standing feuds and unite! The tides of an unwinnable war are upon us, and we must seek refuge upon higher ground, lest we be swept away by the flood.
The Confederacy is no more. Whatever semblance of unity and protection it once provided is a phantom; a memory. With our enemies left unchecked, who will you turn to for protection?
The devastation wrought by the alien invaders is self-evident. We have seen our homes and communities destroyed by the calculated blows of the Protoss. We have seen firsthand our friends and loved ones consumed by the nightmarish Zerg. Unprecedented and unimaginable though they may be, these are the signs of our time.
The time has come, my fellow Terrans, to rally to a new banner. In unity lies strength; already many of the dissident factions have joined us. Out of the many, we shall forge an indivisible whole, capitulating only to a single throne!
And from that throne… I… Shall watch over you.
From this day forward, let no human make war upon any other human. Let no Terran agency conspire against this new beginning. And let no man consort with alien powers. And to all the enemies of humanity, seek not to bar our way, for we shall win through… No matter the cost.”
Especially like: The way Mengsk’s Southern accented speech slowly increases in intensity, until And from that throne… Whereupon the music cuts off for a truly regal sounding I shall watch over you. Said like a true emperor. It’s easy to see how he managed to turn most of the former Confederacy to his side (along with judicious propaganda and black ops).
The Lord of the Rings – Kings Théoden’s Arise, Riders of Theoden
Specifically, from The Return of the King as the the Rohirrim prepare to (what looks to be suicide) charge against Sauron’s armies besieging Minas Tirith.
Forth, and fear no darkness!
Arise! Arise, Riders of Theoden! Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered!
A sword day. A red day. ‘Ere the sun rises!
Ride now! Ride now! Ride! Ride to ruin and the world’s ending!
Death! (Rohirrim echo: Death!)
Death! (Rohirrim echo: Death!)
Death! (Rohirrim echo: Death!)
Especially like: The first few times I watched Théoden say ‘Ere the sun rises!, I found it powerful and inspiring – almost optimistic. Although re-watching it I don’t seem to find it as powerful as I remember, it still strikes a chord somewhat.
And of course, the way he manages to rile up his berserker Vikings to gleefully embrace Death!.
Contrast this to Aragorn’s speech at The Battle at the Black Gate:
Hold your ground, hold your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers.
I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.
An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day!
This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!
It’s actually much more of an actual ‘speech’ than Théoden’s ad-hoc rallying cry, but the way Aragorn delivers it in the film is rather lacking.
Bioshock 2 – Andrew Ryan’s Journey to the Surface
Not a single speech per se, but rather several short narrations to mechanically-animated museum displays. Taken together, they can be read as one whole piece of propaganda.
The title makes me think of an adventure along the lines of Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon or A Journey to the Center of the Earth. Actually a more descriptive title would be Reasons Why the Surface World Sucks (Because of Parasites).
I am Andrew Ryan. Welcome to Ryan Amusements. Please, enjoy the park.
Why, hello there, my name is Andrew Ryan. I built the city of Rapture for children just like you, because the world above had become unfit for us. But here, beneath the ocean, it is natural to wonder if the danger has passed, if those we left behind will ever come to their senses. So, let us imagine, you and I, what might befall us… On the surface.
On the surface, the farmer tills the soil, trading the strength of his arm for a home and lands of his own. But the parasites say NO! What is yours is ours! We are the state, we are God, we demand our share.
The Parasite makes nothing for itself. Its only tools are taxes and tithes, meant to trick you into offering what it has not earned. In Rapture, we keep what is ours.
On the surface, the scientist invests the power of his mind in a single miraculous idea and naturally begins to rise above his fellows. But the parasites say NO! Discovery must be regulated! It must be controlled and finally surrendered.
On the surface, an artist strives to frame his ideals in an image, to challenge his audience and make his vision immortal. But the parasites say NO! Your art must serve the cause! Your ideals endanger the people!
Lacking its own ingenuity, the Parasite fears the visionary. What it cannot plagiarize, it seeks to censor; what it cannot regulate, it seeks to ban. Rapture was founded on an idea, and here they are held inviolate.
On the surface, your parents sought a private life, using their great talents to provide for you. They learned to twist the lies of church and government, believing themselves masters of the system. But the parasites said NO! The child has a duty! He’ll go to war and die for the nation.
Unable to provide for itself, the need of the Parasite grows until war is made to justify it. Your parents brought you to Rapture, where you need never fear the Parasites again. So you see, there is no place for you on the surface, but you may bring the world to you! If you know someone who belongs in Rapture, write a letter to the Ryan Industries mailroom. And you never know! The next new face… might be familiar.
Especially like: Each time the giant Hand of the Parasite appears to a resounding NO!!!, which is progressively more ominous with each display in the series.
If Journey to the Surface were taken in isolation as all that we knew about the world outside Rapture, Andrew Ryan’s Randian objectivist disdain towards the taxing, redistributing world above would be quite convincing.