The Best Presidential Speeches (In Movies)
Ever since we were in school we were taught about great presidential speeches, and many of them do seem like they are worth remembering. After all, the Office of the President still occupies an almost mythical significance in the American psyche.
Who can forget Abe Lincoln and Fourscore and seven years ago? In more modern times, just about every American knows to ask not what your country can do for you, but to ask what you can do for your country. But that was then, and this is now.
Lifestyle magazines and websites these days no longer devote much of their attention beyond ridiculing certain parts of a presidential speech. The most famous examples in recent times include Clinton’s I did not have sex with that woman as well as Dubya’s bombastic either you’re with us or you’re with the enemy declaration. With President Obama, after his slogan Yes we can came into prominence, none of his presidential declarations were as memorable.
It’s different in the world of cinema. This is especially true when the entire world is facing annihilation, and of course it is the President of the USA who has to lead. Who did you expect? When it comes to inspiring quotes, the best movies of all time in sci-fi history contain at least one inspirational presidential address.
This has always been regarded by many of its fans as one of the best movies which involve an alien invasion. For those very few who still have not yet seen this film, it stars Will Smith as a hotshot fighter pilot who dreams of getting into space. The movie also features Dave Goldblum as the computer expert who figures out the aliens’ plan and devises a counter attack on the seemingly impregnable flying saucers, which were shielded so that even a nuke didn’t scratch it.
However, the most inspiring moment of the film is when the president of the USA, played by Bill Pullman, gives a speech over the radio for a worldwide audience just before the launch a coordinated attack on the alien forces. In the movie by the way, the date—as you may have already surmised from the title of the film—is the Fourth of July.
In less than an hour
Aircraft from here will join others from around the world
And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind.
That word should have new meaning for all of us today.
We can’t be consumed by our petty differences any more.
We will be united in our common interest.
Perhaps it’s fate that today is the 4th of July,
And you will once again be fighting for our freedom.
Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution,
But from annihilation.
We’re fighting for our right to live,
And should we win the day,
The 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday,
But as the day when the world declared in one voice:
We will not go quietly into the night!
We will not vanish without a fight!
We’re going to live on, we’re going to survive.
Today we celebrate
Our independence day!
Even non-Americans were stirred by the motivational power of this speech
A more somber example, though no less inspirational, is the presidential speech to which citizens from all over the world stopped and listened, while the movie showed the astronauts (led by Bruce Willies) on their way to the shuttle that would send them out into space to destroy a giant asteroid headed for Earth.
I address you tonight,
Not as the president of the United States,
Or as the leader of a country,
But as a citizen of humanity.
We are faced with the very gravest of challenges.
The Bible calls this day Armageddon, the end of all things.
And yet, for the first time, in the history of the planet,
A species has the technology to prevent its own extinction.
All of you praying with us need to know that everything that can be done to prevent this disaster is being called in to service.
The human thirst for excellence, knowledge, every step up the ladder of science, every adventurous reach into space, all of our combined modern technologies and imaginations, even the wars that we’ve fought have provided us with the tools to wage this terrible battle.
Through all the chaos that is our history,
Through all of the wrongs and the discord,
Through all of the pain and suffering,
Through all of our times,
There is one thing that has nourished our souls and elevated our species above its origin.
And that is our courage.
The dreams of an entire planet are focused tonight on those fourteen brave souls traveling into the heavens. And may we all, citizens the world over, see these events through.
Godspeed and good luck to you.
The effect of this speech is undeniable, especially when associated with images of the astronauts being saluted along the way, and with the images of hopeful people all over the world (especially the children) listening with utter concentration.
What are your favorite presidential speeches in recent years? Chances are, they’ll be coming from fictional characters rather than actual presidents, no matter the nationality.