Friday, April 14, 2006

The Best Movie Line Ever

My latest issue of Entertainment Weekly (which is redesigned, and like all redesigns I don't like it now but will probably get used to is) has a Q&A thing in it where they ask one of the reviewers various questions about movies. This week the question was what the EW writer thought the best movie quote ever was, and after reviewing a few of them, EW settled on "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," from Gone With the Wind. Now, I've never seen the movie and I thought the book was not all that great -- a little slow moving, and the fact that there was a guy named Ashley threw me off a bit -- so I can't agree with that.

To me, a great movie quote is not just one that sticks in your mind, like that one. It's not just one that's iconic ("Nobody puts Baby in a corner!") It's not just one that's catchy or used in other contexts ("Ask yourself: Do I feel lucky?") (Which is not the quote people remember!) It's one that sums up not just the plot twist in a movie, not just the movie itself, but an entire generation.

And there is only one quote that meets that definition. There is only one set of movies that was created by one generation and spanned two others. There is only one set of movies that revitalized an entire genre. There is only one set of movies that spawned so many characters that cannot be forgotten, that crossed boundaries into politics, that set a new standard for evil. And the fun, the thrill, the passion of those movies, the reason that people still watch them and will watch them in 20 years, critics be damned, is summed up in this one quote, the best movie line ever:

"I am your father."

It doesn't get any better than the embodiment of evil in the 21st century telling the embodiment of innocent heroism that they are related, that they are father and son. For a generation of kids who pretended to be Luke Skywalker, this was the ultimate betrayal. It was a twist, a cliffhanger, an earth-shattering revelation of the kind we always suspected our own parents would tell us and feared they might actually do-- worse that "you're adopted," it was "you're the son of evil!" It represented, and still does, what it feels like to grow up: You want to get out in that world, or another, and when you finally do, nothing is what you thought it was and your preconceptions are shattered.

I am your father!

That's the best quote ever, right there.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am your father... that's crap from a crap maker to the crap lovers. CRAP!!!

"I am your father" is not particularly catchy and most people, outside of movie characters using it in good attempts at bad comedy, don't say it.

Thus, your nomination fails on that point.

It's not iconic, it was an uttely out of left field surprise and the closest thing I can think of that might be pop and fits in with it is Joseph telling his brothers who he was after they'd dumped him in a ditch and he became Pharoh of Egypt... hardly iconic.

It doesn't sum up the plot twist either, that happens when Luke holds his dying father in his arms at the end of the sixth chapter and they reconcile showing that evil and good can work together and be more powerful than either side alone.

It doesn't sum up the movie, either. Lando being forced by the wookie to turn the Millenium Falcoln around and pick up Luke just because Leia has a funny feeling, demonstrating that Luke is held up and simultaneously crushed by his family.

It doesn't sum up an entire Generation, either... "May the force be with you", the line that built an empire of New Age, did that.

"Get your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!"

Is iconic, it holds and builds upon tradition going back beyond Sparticus and Metropolis and up into Roots, Indiana Jones, The Matrix, and "V" for Vendetta.

It is catchy and is used frequently in the most sensible and ridiculous of contexts all over the world.

It sums up the plot twist: though shot in the neck, Taylor heals and finds that he is able to speak again, which he and several people the first time they saw it thought would not happen, and not only does he speak but the first thing he does say is amazing, it shows the ragged slave garbed beast as a being, perhaps more powerful than his masters. It sums up the movie, All he wants to do is get away from the apes for the entire film and the apes are always trying get back on top of him.

It sums up three generations and all generations yet to come, the oppressed will always be there and at some time or other all people feel oppressed. The movie transcends racial barriers and gender barriers and class barriers. When the movie originally played in theaters, the producers were astounded that black and brown audiences and feminists loved it. People everywhere were able to so easily and clearly identify with Taylor.

Your quote does nothing you claim one should, mine does them all.

"Get your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!"

-Allex Spires