5 Movie Speeches That Were Totally Different In Real Life
"Based on a true story" movies walk a fine line between entertainment and fact. And that line gets especially blurry when the film sets out to inspire the audience. We want to believe, sure, but we also can't shake the feeling that real life involves more stammering, sweating, and farting than Sandra Bullock is letting on. Turns out we should trust that feeling. Some of the most inspiring moments in movie history were ... less so in reality.
Miracle Left Out The Best Sports Speech In History
Miracle was a movie about two things America loves: playing hockey and beating communism. "The Miracle on Ice" refers to the American men's ice hockey team's defeat of the Soviet team at the 1980 Winter Olympics. There's no shortage of inspirational moments, not the least of which is Kurt Russell's famous "You were born for this" speech, which coach Herb Brooks really gave.
Obviously they won the gold, because it's scientifically impossible to fail if Kurt Russell believes in you.
But they left out his best line. During their final showdown against Finland, when the Americans were down 2-1 after two periods, Brooks marched into the locker room, puffed out his chest, and gave the best sports pep talk ever: "If you lose this game, you'll take it to your fucking graves." Then he paused and repeated "Your fucking graves." That was it. That was the entire speech. It's like Don Cherry and Ernest Hemingway had a weird, bearded metaphor of a love child.
And, well, it kind of worked! The boys in (red, white, and) blue came back like screaming eagles to win the gold 4-2. So why would they leave out the most epic speech of Brooks' career? We don't know, but while America might have finally been ready for a movie about its miraculous Olympics win, it might not have been ready for Kurt Russell dead-staring the camera while emphasizing, "Your fucking graves."
Ali Didn't Show All The Times Muhammad Ali Called Out White People
For his role in Ali, Will Smith went from skinny Fresh Prince to the Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali. In the film, Ali has a meeting with the draft board, then gives a speech to the press about why he won't fight in Vietnam. It's a powerful moment:
Ali is decrying a country that would force him to kill poor people on the other side of the world, when he sees that country as the real enemy. "You my opposer," he keeps repeating. It's not unlike speeches the real Ali gave at the time ... with one noticeable difference.
What's up with the missing "white boys"? That is specifically who Ali felt he had to fight, not some nebulous concept of America. Here's another speech the screenwriters cribbed from, and this one gets a little more explicit. He explains that, "My conscience won't let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud" because "they never called me n****r, they never lynched me, they didn't put no dogs on me, they didn't rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father."
Essentially, movie Ali's speech played some mild Mad Libs with the real Ali's speeches, dropping every instance of "white people," and replacing them with softer, vaguer sentiments about equality and rights. It's all the more ridiculous because the filmmakers otherwise refused to gloss over the racial reality of Muhammad Ali's America. Somehow, explicitly naming the actual perpetrators was a step too far. Well, to be fair, that list would include most of the Academy.
The Spartans Would Have Been Spitting In Dilios' Face
300 is based on the true story of King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and the Spartans (assorted Chippendales) who defended the pass of Thermopylae against the mighty Persians -- or rather, failed to defend it. Right before their last stand, Leonidas sends the one-eyed warrior Dilios back to Sparta to tell the story of their bravery. Dilios gives the council a dramatic account of the 300, and then an inspiring speech to the Spartan army at the Battle of Plataea: "The enemy outnumber us a paltry three to one, good odds for any Greek ... Give thanks for Leonidas and the brave 300! To victory!" He then leads the army's charge at their hated enemy.
In reality, Dilios would have been lucky to lead a herd of especially feminine ponies. According to Herodotus, Leonidas sent two soldiers, Aristodemus (the inspiration for Dilios) and Eurytus, back to Sparta before the last stand at Thermopylae. Eurytus decided to sneak back and got killed fighting the Persians, while Aristodemus went home with news of the battle. The Spartans, not renowned for being reasonable people, thought Aristodemus was a huge coward for not going back like Eurytus. They nicknamed him "the Trembler" and essentially threw him out of society. They wouldn't acknowledge or even talk to him on the street, a punishment typically reserved only for people handing out flyers for local concerts. The only other survivor of Thermopylae, a messenger Leonidas had sent to Thessaly, got the same treatment -- and found it so awful that he eventually killed himself.
But Aristodemus stuck it out until Plataea, where he tried to prove his bravery by charging out of the line and singlehandedly attacking the Persian army, fighting like a maniac until he was killed. Even then, the Spartans were not especially impressed, clucking to themselves that Aristodemus had simply "wanted to die." Poor guy couldn't win.
The Slave Fighting For His Freedom In The Patriot Never Happened
The Patriot includes an entire subplot about a slave named Occam, yet not a single joke about razors. Initially signed up for the resistance by his owner, Occam faces racism from fellow soldier Dan Scott, but is inspired when he sees a decree from George Washington that promises freedom and money to any slave who fights for 12 months. During the movie's emotional final battle, Occam takes his place in the line. A surprised Scott tells him that he doesn't have to be there, because his 12 months are up and he's a free man, but Occam says he's fighting of his own accord. Scott declares that he's honored to fight beside him, thus ending racism in America forever.
Obviously, that didn't happen. Slaves did indeed fight in the Revolutionary army -- the army at Yorktown was estimated as 25 percent black by French observers -- but George Washington and the U.S. never promised to free any who fought. In fact, when the Continental Congress suggested it, South Carolina threatened to pull out of the war. New York did eventually make a similar promise, but this ain't New York, friend. Occam would have gone straight back to slavery -- that is, unless he joined the British, who actually did free slaves who fought for them.
The Greatest Showman's Big Inspirational Moment Was In Reality A Horrifying Animal Slaughter
In The Greatest Showman, P.T. Barnum abandons his low-class museum / freak show for a swanky tour with a fancy opera star, devastating the plucky outcasts who have come to call the museum home. At the movie's climax, the museum catches fire, and Barnum redeems himself by heroically charging into the building, then later reaffirms his commitment to his performers and family.
It's a heartwarming ending, but although his museums were plagued by at least four fires (one of which was bizarrely set by Confederate spies as part of a plot to burn down New York), Barnum never personally saved anyone. They were all basically animal massacres.
The most gruesome occurred in 1865, when firefighters tried to douse the flames by breaking a hole in the whale tank, leaving those whales to either suffocate or roast to death. A charred whale corpse was left rotting on Broadway for days afterward, but the other aquarium animals got to boil alive in privacy. The pythons escaped their cage and tried to slither to safety in the street ... where the police shot or clubbed them to death before a cheering crowd, because that's apparently the limit to what New Yorkers will deal with in their daily commute. Of Barnum's vast menagerie, only Ned the Learned Seal survived, after firefighters hustled him to a nearby fish market in a wheelbarrow, then dumped him in the oyster tank. At the very least, we should have seen Hugh Jackman rescuing (and possibly having a terrible duet with) a talented seal.
But hey, The Greatest Showman's soundtrack was even more lit than that fire!
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