Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Best Movie Line, New Nominee

So I'm going through some stuff today, thinking I'll post a new article over on my new Gather site (check it out for the pictures; the articles are reposts of my blogs) and I realized that I had comments on here, comments that were unfortunately years old.

And my first thought was "You like me, you really like me."

My second thought was "Not anymore after waiting months to be acknowledged."

My third thought was "Yeah, but you still
liked me."

Then I read Allex Spires' nomination for The Best Movie Line. Here it is:

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 utterly 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
Whew! I didn't think it was possible to get that upset over a movie line. I'm not going to rebut his arguments because my own original entry does that already. But I'd like to comment on his assertion that "May The Force Be With You" is more iconic and a better line.

I disagree.

"May The Force Be With You" is a good line, but not The Best because it doesn't carry the impact. It's more a catchphrase than anything else. It didn't hit you with a whipsaw like "I am your father" did. It might have been used a lot and paraphrased a lot, but in my mind The Best Movie Line is one that did more than stuck in your memory, it had to define the movie and hit home personally. It had to go beyond Dirty Dancing's kitsch value and mean something on many, many different levels. (In which respect I and Allex are not so far apart in how we choose our Best Movie Lines.)

Like I pointed out before, "I am your father" makes the cut because of how it affected all the kids who heard it; we'd all spent years pretending to be Luke Skywalker (and identifying with his need to go out there and be more than a water farmer) and suddenly you had to ask yourself: Do I want to be Luke? "I am your father" made the simple world of Star Wars morph into the complex world of The Empire Strikes Back. Now, things were not so straightforward. We weren't just going to get the Princess and destroy the Death Star. We were training for something bigger than us, and having to choose whether to listen to our teachers or our father-figures Obi Wan Kenobi, and had to wonder about whether the Landos in our lives would carbon freeze us. In "I am your father," George Lucas ushered a generation of Tweens into Young Adulthood. We would need The Force, because the universe had really become scary and the scariness was part of us.

But I like Allex's nomination, too. If you want to check in on Allex, go here. His nomination deserves some scrutiny. In fact, I liked it even better when Troy McClure used it in "Planet of the Ape The Musical" on The Simpsons:

Correction posted on 1/25/07:
From Allex Spires:

Okay, I went back and read it. Rather than put another longwinded response into the blog, I'll say that I didn't say that "May the force be with you" was Iconic, or even a good line, it just sums up the Star Wars/New Age generation.

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