Great Movie Moments to Inspire Change

I have always been a sucker for great movies especially movies that inspire me to look deeper and harder at my own life and those around me. Through other stories, fictional and true, we take something away with us whether a feeling or opinion that’s what makes movies such a powerful tool for filmmakers to engage the audience. So turn down the lights and let the film begin.

Rocky Balboa (2006)

One of my favorite movie franchises of all time written by Sylvester Stallone and one of the best movies in the series. Rocky Balboa also played by Stallone experiences many tragedies and triumphs as the dark horse in every fight through out the series but as always perseveres in the end. He is always fighting to stay on top, to be remember more than just as a man and struggles to maintain some sense of himself  while keeping his family together. This is a story of hope, understanding, common ground, and big dreams. The quote below represents what it means to be older and wiser:

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!”

American History X (1998)

Every action has a reaction or in this case severe consequences. Do we follow blindly or blaze a new trail? Can we learn from our mistakes before it is too late? This movie raises many of these questions as the film parallels present day with the past. Two brothers, Derek and Danny, are both intelligent and charismatic students who seem to be on very similar paths when their father, a firefighter is murdered by a black drug dealer while trying to extinguish a fire in South LA making Derek the older brother join the neo-nazi movement.  The film shows how the whole family deals with the grief and how Derek carries on the attitudes of his father. Derek ends up killing two black gang members who try to steal his father’s truck and ends up serving three years in prison. His brother Danny decides to follow in Derek’s footsteps by adopting the same ideology. However after Derek returns home and has radically changed his attitude after being raped by white neo-nazi inmates, Derek makes it his mission to prevent his brother from going down the same path before it is too late. The quote below explains the brother’s transformation and represents how man has evolved through history:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Godfather (1972)

So many iconic tagline from the movie like “I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.” or “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” The movie based on the book by Mario Puzo (1969)  tells the story of the Corleone family and their epic rise to power as one of the most powerful New York crime families. The story spans from 1945 to 1955 centering on the transformation of Michael Corleone from reluctant family outsider to ruthless mafia boss while paralleling the story of the Corleone family under Don Vito Corleone. The movies is regarded as the second greatest film in American cinema, but is not for the faint of heart or for those who have a short attention span since it is about three hours in length. The original was followed by Part II (1974) and Part III (1990) where you see Michael’s decline paralleled with Vito’s rise to power and the ways they run the family which are very different. As Michael gets older (Part III), he begins to realize that he can never leave the lifestyle and go legitimate like his father wanted him to. In the end, he loses everything and realizes too late you reap what you sow. The movies provide a great commentary on the way the world works and the decision that people make which affect us all in the end. Are there any truly honest men in the world  whose judgment isn’t clouded by naivete or greed? The quotes below ponder this question:

MC: “My father is no different than any other powerful man — any man who’s responsible for other people, like a senator or president.” KAY: “You know how naive you sound…senators and presidents don’t have men killed.” MC: “Oh, who’s being naive, Kay?” 

“I never wanted this for you. I work my whole life–I don’t apologize–to take care of my family, and I refused to be a fool, dancing on the string held by all those bigshots. I don’t apologize–that’s my life–but I thought that, that when it was your time, that you would be the one to hold the string. Senator Corleone; Governor Corleone. [Michael: Another pezzonovante] Well, this wasn’t enough time, Michael. It wasn’t enough time. [Michael: We’ll get there, pop. We’ll get there.]” –Don Vito and Michael conversing in the garden

“It seems in today’s world, the power to absolve debt is greater than the power of forgiveness.” –Archbishop Gilday to Michael

“I betrayed my wife. I betrayed myself. I killed men and I ordered men to be killed. Ah, it’s useless… I killed — I ordered the death of my brother. He injured me. I killed my mother’s son. I killed my father’s son.” –Michael’s confession (to Cardinal Lamberto)

“I would burn in Hell to keep you safe.” –Michael to Mary his daughter

“‘Ah, Constantine, how much misfortune you caused. Not by becoming Christian, but by the dowry which the first rich Pope accepted from you.'” –Dante, quoted by Archbishop Liam Francis Gilday to Michael

Times change. These days, we learn from the philanthropists like the Rockefellers. First you rob everybody, then you give to the poor.” –Michael to B.J. Harrison

“All my life I kept trying to go up in society. Where everything higher up was legal. But the higher I go, the crookeder it becomes. Where the hell does it end?” –Michael to Connie

“I have always believed helping your fellow man is profitable in every sense, personally and bottom-line.” –Michael to reporters

“Politics and crime — they’re the same thing.” –Michael to Tommasino

“Even the strongest man needs friends…. Politics is knowing when to pull the trigger.” –Don Lucchesi to Vincent

“Why was I so feared, and you were so loved?” –Michael over Tommasino’s corpse

“I swear on the lives of my children — give me a chance to redeem myself, and I will sin no more.” –Michael praying

The Bucket List (2007)

Carter Chambers a blue collar mechanic and billionaire hospital magnate Edward Cole meet for the first time in a hospital after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Neither man cares for the other at first but slowly build a friendship as they undergo treatment. While at the hospital Carter begins to write a bucket list of things to do before he kicks the bucket, but after hearing he has less than a year he throw it away. Edward finds the list and offers to help Cater do everything on his list even offering to pay for it. Carter agrees, despite his wife’s protest, and the two start off on their trip around the world to complete the list. Both men discover while atop the Great Pyramids that both men have unfinished business as Cater feels less in love with his wife and Edward’s daughter disowned him for driving away her abusive husband. Carter decides to go home and on his way tries to reunite Edward with his daughter but Edward storms off while Carter goes home to his wife. The family reunion is short lived when Carter suffers a seizure and is rushed to hospital where Edward and him end up reconciling. Unfortunately Carter dies on the operating table prompting Edward to reconcile with his daughter and giving Carter’s eulogy. Eventually, Edward dies and is buried next to his friend with the help of his assistant who completes the list. The story is relateable to most people as at one point or another we all see death and life in different ways whether we die today or tomorrow. The movie helps us all to ponder the question about time and what we do with it before we leave this world.  The quotes below best represent the issue of time and death:

“You know, the ancient Egyptians had a beautiful belief about death. When their souls got to the entrance to heaven, the guards asked two questions. Their answers determined whether they were able to enter or not. ‘Have you found joy in your life?’ ‘Has your life brought joy to others?’” — Carter Chambers

I believe that you measure yourself by the people that measure themselves by you.The Bucket List

The Hours (2002)

The movie tells the stories of three women of different generations interconnected by the novel Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Clarissa Vaughan a New Yorker preparing for an award party for her AIDS stricken long time friend and poet Richard in 2001, Laura Brown a pregnant 1950s California housewife with a young boy and unhappy marriage and Virginia Woolf in 1920s England who struggles with depression and mental illness while writing the novel. The movie alternates between the different timelines but all of the events take place in the span of one day except the opening  and final scene. The book and the movie show how life can be such an overwhelming experiences leaving some with the decision to keep living or to end it all. The quote below represents the idea of living in the moment not beyond it as life is messy and unpredictable:

“I remember one morning getting up at dawn, there was such a sense of possibility. You know that feeling? And I remember thinking to myself
this is the beginning of happiness. This is where it starts and of course there will always be more. It never occurred to me it wasn’t the beginning. It was happiness. It was the moment. Right then.”Clarissa Vaughan, her life as a young adult

“There are times when you don’t belong and you think you’re going to kill yourself. Once I went to a hotel. Later that night I made a plan. The plan was I would leave my family when my second child was born. And that’s what I did. I got up one morning, made breakfast, went to the bus stop, got on a bus. I’d left a note. I got a job in a library in Canada. It would be wonderful to say you regretted it. It would be easy. But what does it mean? What does it mean to regret when you have no choice? It’s what you can bear. There it is. No-one’s going to forgive me. It was death. I chose life.” –Laura Brown

Dear Leonard. To look life in the face. Always to look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it. To love it for what it is, and then, to put it away. Leonard. Always the years between us. Always the years. Always the love. Always the hours. -Virginia Woolf

Rudy (1993)

The movie recalls the life of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger who harbored the dream of playing football at the University of Notre Dame despite many obstacles. Rudy has always been told that he was too small to play college football yet despite tremendous doubt sets on his journey to accomplish his dream. Rudy who grew up in a Catholic, working class family does not have the grades, the size or the talent to get into the school so he decide to work with his brothers and father at the steel plant. After his 22nd birthday, his friend Pete who believed in him dies in an accident, forcing Rudy to realize it is now or never to make his dream a reality. He ends up enrolling in the Holy Cross Junior College and with the help of his tutor earns the grades to transfer to his dream school and becomes a tackling dummy for the team for two years. Rudy ends up inspiring his team to give up their spots so he can play one game eventually convincing the coach to let him and ending with Rudy being carried off the field by his teammate. The movie inspires everyone to live your dream and sacrifice is necessary to do so. The quote below represents with determination and drive you can achieve your dreams:

“In this life time, you don’t have to prove nothing to nobody, except yourself. And after what you’ve gone through, if you haven’t done that by now, it ain’t gonna never happen.” – Fortune

“Having dreams is what makes life tolerable.”

Gladiator (2000)

The loyal Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius, is betrayed when the emperor’s ambitious son, Commodus, murders his father and seizes the throne reducing Maximus to slavery. The movie follows Maximus as he rises through the gladiatorial arena to avenge his family’s and emperor’s murder. The final showdown comes between Commodus and Maximus as Commodus is more vain and prideful as he was before he took the throne. However both men meet their demise despite Commodus fixing the fight by stabbing Maximus in the lung and concealing the wound before the fight. Maximus in the end keeps his promise to the emperor by returning Rome back to the people. The movie shows the path of two very different men with two very different ideals that ultimately collide where in this case good wins over evil despite the odds. The quotes below represent the constant battle of man to remain true in the face of great adversity and in the same token cement his place in history:

“Brothers, what we do in life echoes in eternity.” – Maximus

“I am dying, Maximus. When a man sees his end, he wants to know there was some purpose to his life. How will the world speak my name in years to come? Will I be known as the philosopher? The warrior? The tyrant? Or will I be the emperor who gave Rome back her true self? There was once a dream that was Rome.” -Marcus Aurelius

“I don’t pretend to be a man of the people. But I do try to be a man for the people.” -Gracchus

“Ultimately, we are all dead men. Sadly we cannot choose how but we can decide how we meet that end in order that we are remembered as men.” -Proximo

“Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back.” -Marcus Aurelius

6 thoughts on “Great Movie Moments to Inspire Change

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