Movie Quotes to Live By
Django unchained came out in 2012. My sister was 15 years old. I remember watching the movie and finding it interesting. The mix of genres which allowed for atypical character development, the cross-cultural social commentary from the German-born Dr. Schulz, and of course, Jamie Foxx’s expression within Tarrentino’s signature style and framework. I’ve been studying movies for a long time. I admired the form. I took the content for what it was. The plot of a fiction movie.
I was discussing the movie with my sister back then, and she was enthusiastic about its quality. We talked about all of the parts of it that were cool to us, and then she said something that changed the entire tone of the conversation.
“It really changed my view on slavery. I’ve never really been able to see or understand how brutal and demeaning it was. I think I came away from the movie a real lesson on the history of America.”
I was appalled! Sure, there were horrible historical truths in the movie: the destruction of slave families by sale, Mandingo fighting, the study of Nephrology, to name a few. But surely these were things that you learned about, in school, in books, or some other “official” way, and not concepts that you were first introduced to by Quentin Tarrentino!
But I had to be humble and consider the context. In 2012, facing school systems that (sometimes wholly) erase the impact and horror of slavery, a generation more given to consuming digital media (how many grade-school level articles or books about slavery have you read online?), and the rise of black-intended tv shows that focus more on contemporary life than historical aspects, what chance would my sister have had to see slavery portrayed, honestly, if at all?
Films are art, and we’ve long known not only that art imitates life, but that art can deeply and profoundly affect a person’s lived experience. This exchange with my sister led to me consider some of my favorite movies, and how they’ve affected my life. I love quotes, I have an entire wall dedicated to poignant quotes in my home, and so I want to share with you a few of my favorite movie quotes, and how they’ve guided me through dark and light times.
The Prestige (2006)
Robert Angier: “You never understood why we did this. The audience knows the truth. The world is simple. It’s miserable, solid all the way through. But if you could fool them, even for a second, then you can make them wonder, and then you...then you got to see something special...you really don’t know? It was...it was the look on their faces.”
These are the last words that Robert Angier, Nolan’s consummate obsessive magician, utters before his death. It is his brief treatise on magic, performance, and the effect that those art forms can have on people. Angier struggles against Borden, a rival magician, the entire movie, and their motivations for performance are vastly different. Borden wants to be the best, he wants to shock and amaze, take risks and be daring for the sake of the craft. Angier tries to explain to him that it's not just about magic, but what magic means to each person in the audience, and it can be inspirational to them. I try to apply this logic to the art I create, visual and otherwise, always keeping my audience and supporters at the center.
Men in Black (1997)
James Edwards III: Is it worth it?
Agent K: Oh, yeah, it’s worth it....if you’re strong enough.
This is the end of the conversation between the future “Agent J” and Agent K where the latter invites James Edwards to join the men in black. Edwards ponders the proposition as Agent K walks away and asks a very important question: Is giving up your identity, connections to friends and family, and all other personal effects worth it, knowing that you play an integral part in keeping the world safe and spinning?
What is a hero without adoring fans? It’s worth questioning. I think this quote has a ton of applications, but I’ve applied it to my personal philosophy on love and relationships. They’re worth it, if you’re strong enough. It’s hard work to love someone (and to even be loved by someone in certain cases). You won’t always be strong enough for the love to be worthwhile. Be discerning and selfless, though, because the love can be restorative and transformative too. During those times, you should focus inward, on self-care and development, making sure that you’re the best version of you. But...if you are strong enough...at any given time, love is a beautiful thing.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Daisy: What’s it like growing younger, while everybody else gets older?
Benjamin: Can’t really say, I’m always looking out of my own eyes.
We all have unique talents, interests, and abilities. Nobody is made exactly how you’re made it. It’s a sad thought, in a way, that it’s seemingly impossible for someone to understand all the historical and contemporary complexities that make-up your identity, but it’s a lovely thought in that each of us is truly 1/1. What’s it like to be creative? What’s it like to feel so differently about social issues than your friends and peers? What’s it like to have moved around so much during your life? These and other things I have been asked and tried to answer, but the truth is, I’m always looking out my own eyes. My life is exactly as it was meant to be. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t fulfilling to share my experiences and learn about those of others, but on some level, my life is just my life. I understand it from the inside out.
Kevin Williamson & Wes Craven
Billy (to Sidney): It’s all one big movie. You can’t pick your genre.
One of the best slasher films ever! Billy says this to Sidney after she explains how all of her hardships in life have affected her; losing her mother, growing apart from friends, struggling with sadness. Billy compares her experience to a popular film, and Sidney protests that analogy, but Billy has a point. Back to the point of art imitating life, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. We can control aspects of life, but some circumstances are beyond what we can create and influence. Managing your responses to various scenarios in life is often the best way to stay grounded and progressive. You can’t pick your genre, but you can write your own lines.
Bonus: Django Unchained (2012)
Robert (at the raid): I think, we all think, the bags was a nice idea. But not pointing any fingers, they coulda been done better. So, how about no bags this time, but next time, we do the bags right, and then we go full regalia!
A funny quote from one of the funniest scenes in the movie. My sister insisted I share this with you all. Sometimes you have to adjust your plan in unexpectedly (even if you put a bunch of work into it), hope for better in the future, and get the job done!