Theoden's Speech: The greatest motivational speech ever?

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Theoden's Speech: The greatest motivational speech ever?

Postby Winged_Balrog » Wed May 12, 2004 9:06 am

Every time I watch ROTK--heck, even every time I see stills from this scene--I am just absolutely blown away by it. The fear the Rohirrim feel when they arrive and see the overwhelming force they must face is almost tastable it is done so well. But the way that fear melts away due to Theoden's impassioned speech is a testament to how amazing of a speech it was. Not only was the dialogue perfect (largely from the book), but Bernard Hill's delivery was something out of this world; like something otherworldly that only a real-life warrior-king could muster, not something you'd expect to see in a movie. It's a moment when we can see that although Theoden is about to die, the flawed, self-doubting king of TTT is already dead, replaced by Orome or Tulkas in the flesh.

The effect it has on me is intense. Every single time I have to stop myself from joining the war cry, and when they charge the tears well up in my eyes at their bravery and self-sacrifice. This is something that no other battle speech I've ever seen has even come close to accomplishing--and I've seen a lot of them. IMO, this entire scene just blows out of the water any similar scene that has ever been done before it. If anyone has a better, I'd like to hear it, and why you think it's better.

In fact, it's almost too good, because by comparison Aragorn's speech at the black gate sounds subdued and insincere. It's as good as most battle speeches you hear in a film, but coming so soon after Theoden's incredible monologue, it's somewhat anti-climactic.
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Postby LadyAshley » Wed May 12, 2004 9:15 am

I was moved too. The first time I heard it in the theater, I wanted to jump out of my seat, grab a sword and jump into the screen and FIGHT! I clapped and cheered. I clapped and cheered the second time too. It's still a GREAT speech. (And because it come largely from the book, like you said, W_B.)

Geez, he was Bema come to Middle-earth again!
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Re: Theoden's Speech: The greatest motivational speech ever?

Postby akallabeth » Wed May 12, 2004 10:17 am

Winged_Balrog wrote:In fact, it's almost too good, because by comparison Aragorn's speech at the black gate sounds subdued and insincere. It's as good as most battle speeches you hear in a film, but coming so soon after Theoden's incredible monologue, it's somewhat anti-climactic.


I rreacted to the two speeches in this way as well. Hill ecclipsed Viggo at in this area, which undermined the Gate scene a bit.
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Postby Stupid_Orcs » Wed May 12, 2004 10:35 am

While it is a very very good speech, I'm not exactly sure if it should be considered the greatest speech ever given IMHO.

I've seen a lot of stirring speeches (Braveheart's "They'll never take our freedom," The Shoveler's speech in Mystery Men, Bill Pullman's speech in "Independence Day" are three that come immediately to mind) but the one that always gets me is Shakespeare's St. Crispian's Day Speech. It was given by Henry V in the face of overwhelming odds where the French outnumbered the British more than 3 to 1. I'm a pacifist by heart, but whenever I hear that speech I get goosebumps and choked up. At the end of it I feel like kicking some bootay (though not nessecarily the French's :)).

"This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
Make him a member of the gentry, even if he is a commoner.
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day."

Shakespeare
Henry V, Act 4, Scene 3
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Postby crispycreme » Wed May 12, 2004 10:39 am

Greatest motivational speech ever:

Otter: Ladies and gentlemen, I'll be brief. The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules or took a few liberties with our female party guests -- we did. But you can't hold a whole fraternity responsible for the actions of a few sick, perverted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn't we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you ... isn't this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do what you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America!
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Postby TheLidlessEyes » Wed May 12, 2004 10:51 am

Stupid_Orcs wrote:...the one that always gets me is Shakespeare's St. Crispian's Day Speech...

Aragorn's speech is based on this.

Stupid_Orcs wrote:I've seen a lot of stirring speeches...Bill Pullman's speech in "Independence Day"

This is a joke, right. Please tell me this is a joke. It was cheesy, and Bill Pullman's entire performance - particularly during this speech - was one of the greatest acts of miscasting ever inflicted on an audience - which could only be topped by Pee Wee Herman playing Aragorn.
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Postby Stupid_Orcs » Wed May 12, 2004 11:03 am

TheLidlessEyes wrote:Aragorn's speech is based on this.


I didn't know that, thanks!

TheLidlessEyes wrote:This is a joke, right. Please tell me this is a joke. It was cheesy, and Bill Pullman's entire performance - particularly during this speech - was one of the greatest acts of miscasting ever inflicted on an audience - which could only be topped by Pee Wee Herman playing Aragorn.


lol Yes, that was a joke. ;) My sarcasm didn't come across I guess. :roll:
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Postby Iavas_Saar » Wed May 12, 2004 12:07 pm

I agree it's the greatest motivational speech I've ever heard, and gets better each time I see it. Your description is wonderful.. it makes me all the more impatient for the 25th to get here! ;)

However, it doesn't diminish Aragorn's speech for me.
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Postby Nazgul_Number_6 » Wed May 12, 2004 1:32 pm

Winged_Balrog, I couldn't agree more about Theoden's speech. Actually, when I saw it, it was the first time I had ever cried in a movie. I can't wait until the DVD comes out!

Lidless, you didn't like Bill Pullman's speech? I didn't think it was that bad.
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Re: Theoden's Speech: The greatest motivational speech ever?

Postby Kezmoid » Wed May 12, 2004 2:14 pm

Winged_Balrog wrote:In fact, it's almost too good, because by comparison Aragorn's speech at the black gate sounds subdued and insincere. It's as good as most battle speeches you hear in a film, but coming so soon after Theoden's incredible monologue, it's somewhat anti-climactic.


I agree that Aragorn's speech is not as good as Theoden's (could any speech be?), but for me the following scene, when Aragorn turns to his friends and simply says "For Frodo" before he charges out alone toward the Orcs, is as "motivational" as Theoden's speech.
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Postby crispycreme » Wed May 12, 2004 2:43 pm

Nazgul_Number_6 wrote:Lidless, you didn't like Bill Pullman's speech? I didn't think it was that bad.


Heh, I liked it too. I used to have the .wav file on my computer even. Let's see..

".. and we will once again be fighting for our freedom. Freedom -- not from tyranny, or persecution -- but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live, to exist. And should we win the day..... " aaaaaand that's about as far as I can go without cheating and looking it up on Google.

Call it a sinful pleasure (heck, I enjoyed the whole sappy movie).
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Postby Macsen » Wed May 12, 2004 2:46 pm

It's not really a good long speech, is it. Just a few words... :(
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Postby Lord_Morningstar » Wed May 12, 2004 2:52 pm

Theoden’s speech rocks, but no-one can eclipse Saruman as action-inducing (notice I didn’t say motivational) speaker IMHO.

But for pure motivation, Theoden wins.
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Postby Luinnenion » Wed May 12, 2004 2:59 pm

The entire scene is filled with wonderful subtle moments.

- Eomer's expression as he sees the armies on the Pelennor and Minas Tirith, now burning.

- Theoden's expression of horror, just before he visibly steels himself, fiercely pulling on his reins as he turns to address his commanders.

- But even then we don't feel the change. The gloom is still oppressing, Theoden's commands empty and hollow, until he says forcefully, "Forth! And fear no darkness!" Now we feel the tide shift, as if we ourselves feel the courage given to the Rohirrim by their king.

- Then the sunrise on their backs, as a horn blows a quiet fanfare.

- "Ride now! Ride to ruin, and to world's ending!" Notice that Theoden's pace as he says this, his sword striking the spears of his warriors, is not a slow, processional one, but galloping creating an essential sense of momentum.

- "Death!" A slow build! At first only a few Rohirrim join in. Theoden cries it again, and a few more join. Theoden is still insistent, crying it even louder, and now everyone understands, everyone shouting "Death!" It gets away from Theoden, taking on a life of its own.

- The fear in the eyes of the waiting orc pike wall. Gothmog may be confident, but the grunts know the tide has turned.

- The horns, a pure, beautiful sound. Far purer and more beautiful than I ever imagined.

- "Forth Eorlingas!" And then the Rohan theme is taken up, triumphant, mighty, complete and whole, not broken like it was in Two Towers.

- And then the shot of the Rohirrim, truly like a wave breaking on the shore, Theoden overtaken by nobody.

The transformation from total despair to wild fury is simply amazing, a masterwork of filmmaking.
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Postby LadyAshley » Wed May 12, 2004 3:06 pm

Did anyone else besides me kind of forget about the Rohirrim the first time you saw ROTK? I was so into the film that they slipped my mind---until the horns! The horns! When they blew I remembered all of a sudden----and what joy and surprise it was!

I didn't even notice Radagast the Moth. I had forgotten about the eagles! And that was a joy and surprise too.

But Theoden, what a speech! Such inspiration in the face of certain doom.
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Postby Macsen » Wed May 12, 2004 3:16 pm

LadyAshley wrote:I didn't even notice Radagast the Moth.


Hmmm... didn't know old Radagst had been reduced to a bit part. :D
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Postby eborr » Thu May 13, 2004 6:39 am

No
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Postby Luinnenion » Thu May 13, 2004 8:09 am

eborr wrote:No


This is true. While the scene in the movie is masterful filmmaking, and perhaps the greatest pre-battle speech by a commander on film, for purely motivational speaking it's hard to top Matt Foley.
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Postby Edhelwen » Thu May 13, 2004 2:08 pm

I can never decide which speech is best- Aragorns or Theodens. Yet I certainly felt ready to charge the screen. Turn of the tide, indeed! Somehow it managed to convey so much hope fully in the knowledge that they would all be dead ere the fight is over. I don't think ay other film speech shall ever top it.

Ed.
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Postby opjose » Thu May 13, 2004 4:15 pm

TheLidlessEyes wrote:
Stupid_Orcs wrote:...the one that always gets me is Shakespeare's St. Crispian's Day Speech...

Aragorn's speech is based on this.

Stupid_Orcs wrote:I've seen a lot of stirring speeches...Bill Pullman's speech in "Independence Day"

This is a joke, right. Please tell me this is a joke. It was cheesy, and Bill Pullman's entire performance - particularly during this speech - was one of the greatest acts of miscasting ever inflicted on an audience - which could only be topped by Pee Wee Herman playing Aragorn.


-------

WOW!

A-MEN! to that.

I've always though likewise. I could never buy into him as President. It was probably one of the worst casting jobs I've every seen. He is totally unbelievable.

Even Commander Data, did a better job as a scientist.

I've gotten quite a few strange stares when I've asserted this and your one of the few who seems to feel likewise.

The speech itself would have worked if another actor with a bit more character depth had delivered it.

He and the drunk pilot with the disfuntional family, pulled me out of the movie quickly.
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Re: Theoden's Speech: The greatest motivational speech ever?

Postby opjose » Thu May 13, 2004 4:18 pm

Kezmoid wrote:
Winged_Balrog wrote:In fact, it's almost too good, because by comparison Aragorn's speech at the black gate sounds subdued and insincere. It's as good as most battle speeches you hear in a film, but coming so soon after Theoden's incredible monologue, it's somewhat anti-climactic.


I agree that Aragorn's speech is not as good as Theoden's (could any speech be?), but for me the following scene, when Aragorn turns to his friends and simply says "For Frodo" before he charges out alone toward the Orcs, is as "motivational" as Theoden's speech.


Yes, except it's SOOO out of context because of the missing MOS schene.

I can't wait until the EE version, so that we can see the entire final sequence with the PROPER emotional impact.

P.J. should not have cut MOS.
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Postby opjose » Thu May 13, 2004 4:24 pm

Luinnenion wrote:The entire scene is filled with wonderful subtle moments.


My favorite is the "aw bloody hell" -LOOK- in Theoden's eyes when he sees the Witch King flying at him.

I don't know why but that really gets me, because it's a reaction I can SOOO identify with, were I in his shoes.
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Postby ThreadStalker » Thu May 13, 2004 5:07 pm

I loved Theoden King in the movie. I never gave him much thought or credit from reading the book but here I gained a whole new respect for the character. I really got the feeling that in many ways Theoden was teaching, or at least showing, Aragorn how to be a king.

I cannot quote the words but I also liked when Theoden takes Aragorn aside and lets him know that He know how bleak the picture is BUT he can't let that show or his men will loose what little hope they have. I felt like he was saying "Look boy I know everything you're about to say but if we take that tact then all really will be lost. " Like I said, wonderful
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Postby legolas_the_fair » Thu May 13, 2004 5:19 pm

I know a lot of people think Aragorn's speech doesn't hold up after Theoden's, but I think it does. I mean, I think Theoden's is more effective, but Aragorn's still has a hefty punch to it.
I thought it was a bit predictable after the first 'but it is not this day' (maybe because I'd heard it in the trailer a bunch of times), but when he gets to the second "but it is NOT this day!!" - it really picks up. I love that whole scene outside of Mordor, and although Aragorn can't match Theoden for rallying the troops, it's still an excellent, and well delivered speech.
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Postby legolas_the_fair » Thu May 13, 2004 5:22 pm

Erm... what the guy who posted above this said
Last edited by legolas_the_fair on Thu May 13, 2004 5:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Maedhros_the_Tall » Thu May 13, 2004 5:23 pm

Yeah, book Theoden does this same thing for me, if not in a larger way. But this is defin film Theoden's shinning moment.


(makes up for his Helms Deep let down)
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Postby Kezmoid » Fri May 14, 2004 4:53 am

Excellent breakdown Luinennion. :) I didn't know that only a few Rohirrim joined in the shouts of "Death!" the first time round. Though you forgot the moment that never fails to send shivers down my spine - when Merry and Eowyn shout "Death!"


ThreadStalker wrote:I cannot quote the words but I also liked when Theoden takes Aragorn aside and lets him know that He know how bleak the picture is BUT he can't let that show or his men will loose what little hope they have. I felt like he was saying "Look boy I know everything you're about to say but if we take that tact then all really will be lost. " Like I said, wonderful


"And what would you have me do? Look at my men. Their courage hangs by a thread. If this is to be our end, then I would have them make such an end as to be worthy of remembrance."

I too liked that moment. I got the feeling that although Theoden knows what it is to be a king and how to act encouraging and hopeful, he does not actually have that hope himself whereas Aragorn does and that's what Theoden 'learns' from Aragorn.
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Postby evenstar1 » Fri May 14, 2004 5:10 am

I love this part too. Oneof my mostfave chapters in the book. I love the ending of the chapter.
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Postby Winged_Balrog » Fri May 14, 2004 9:05 am

Kezmoid wrote:I got the feeling that although Theoden knows what it is to be a king and how to act encouraging and hopeful, he does not actually have that hope himself whereas Aragorn does and that's what Theoden 'learns' from Aragorn.


I think that's spot on, Kezmoid!
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Postby Frelga » Fri May 14, 2004 9:39 am

legolas_the_fair wrote:I love that whole scene outside of Mordor, and although Aragorn can't match Theoden for rallying the troops, it's still an excellent, and well delivered speech.


I think Aragorn (and Viggo) was doing fine. It's just that PB and FW can't match Tolkien for writing speeches. :) I still thought Aragorn's speech was one of the finest non-Tolkien monologues in the trilogy.

Theoden's speech, IMO, is not only a brilliant piece of film-making but the finest example of adapting the book. While this is a change from the page, I don't remember any purist complaining about it.

In the book, you'll recall, there are TWO charges of Rohirrim. After Theoden's motivational speech, the Riders just want to kick some Orc-butt. And they sang as they slew gives me shivers no matter how many times I read it, but would be really strange on screen. The second charge, after Theoden is killed and Eowyn is believed dead and Eomer goes berserk is when Rohirrim cry "Death!", and that is my absolutely favorite book passage.

I wish there was time to see both charges in the movie, but I think here PJ made all the right choices and achieved the maximum impact. The fighting in Minas Tirith is a whole 'nother story, unfortunately.
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