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Greatest Classic Religious Themed Speeches: 7 Memorable Monologues

By    |   Sunday, 03 May 2015 04:35 AM

A movie doesn’t have to be religious in approach to have a classic religious-themed speech. Of course, the more religion-based a movie is, the more likely for dialogue on that topic.
As for that dialogue, some movies with classic religious-themed speeches will go straight for sacred texts and writings, while others will try originals words from the scriptwriter. The resulting speech can be effective with either approach, as this list shows.

The following are seven of the best classic religious-themed speeches.

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“The Wicker Man” (1973)

The original Wicker Man, not the remake with the infamous bees scene, provides a religious point-counterpoint. On one side, there is Sergeant Howie, a devout Christian who is sent to an island near Scotland to investigate the disappearance of a little girl. The island, led by Lord Summerisle, tends to practice paganism.

Once on the island, Howie, played by Edward Woodward, finds a culture and religious beliefs that challenge him.

Spoilers are ahead, as this monologue takes place near the film’s climax. The crops have been failing on the island. The missing girl was bait to lure Howie. Summerisle and his people want to sacrifice Howie to their gods in return for bountiful crops.

The final 15 minutes of the film are filled with memorable dialogues. However, the star monologue belongs to Christopher Lee’s Summerisle, who gives a chilling classic speech in which he tells Howie why it is good he believes in his god.

This is Summerisle’s speech:

“That is good. For believing what you do, we confer a rare gift these days – a martyr’s death. You will not only have life eternal, but you will sit with the saints among the elect. Come, it is time to keep your appointment with the wicker man.”

Wicker Man Sacrifice by riton23

“A Man for All Seasons” (1966)

This movie is based upon a play that derives its plot from Sir Thomas More’s dealings with English King Henry VIII and one of the king’s ministers, Thomas Cromwell. More, played by Paul Scofield, who won an Oscar for this portrayal, tried to stay loyal to the king while maintaining his Catholic faith. England, at the time, was changing religiously, with King Henry breaking from the Catholic Church after it failed to grant him a divorce.

At each turn, More is checked by Cromwell (Leo McKern). Finally, a witness comes forward and gives false evidence in regards to More’s beliefs on the supremacy of the king. More’s conviction is sealed, and he is about to be sentenced.

While the movie does not have a totally religious theme, the classic speech by More at the end does touch upon the priority of religion over the ruling class.

This is More’s speech:

More: “Since the Court has determined to condemn me, God knoweth how, I will now discharge my mind concerning the indictment and the King's title. The indictment is grounded in an act of Parliament which is directly repugnant to the law of God, and his Holy Church, the supreme government of which no temporal person may by any law presume to take upon him. This was granted by the mouth of our savior, Christ himself, to Saint Peter and the bishops of Rome whilst He lived and was personally present here on Earth. It is, therefore, insufficient in law to charge any Christian to obey it. And more to this, the immunity of the Church is promised both in Magna Carta and in the king's own coronation oath ...”

Cromwell: “Now we plainly see you are malicious.”

More: “Not so. I am the king's true subject, and I pray for him and all the realm. I do none harm. I say none harm. I think none harm. And if this be not enough to keep a man alive, then in good faith, I long not to live. Nevertheless, it is not for the supremacy that you have sought my blood, but because I would not bend to the marriage!”

“Barabbas” (1961)

The original movie about the thief released from captivity instead of Jesus is notable for its classic religious-themed speech from the apostle Peter (Harry Andrews).

Barabbas has been wrestling with the fact that one man has been crucified in his place. When Peter and Barabbas are in jail near the end of the film, Peter tries to help him come to terms.

This is Peter’s speech:

“The truth of the matter is He’s never moved from your side. I can tell you this: There has been a wrestling in your spirit back and forth in your life which, in itself, is knowledge of God. By the conflict, you have known Him. I can tell you as well that so it will be with the coming of the kingdom. A wrestling back and forth and a laboring of the world spirit, like a woman in childbirth. We are only the beginning. We won’t see the time when the Earth is full of the kingdom. And yet, even now, even here, the hour at the end of the life, the kingdom is within us. There’s nothing more to fear. Upon us, the years will be but many, many martyrdoms. The ground of men is very stubborn to mature. But men will look back to us in our day and will wonder, and remember, our hope. It is the end of the day. We shall trust ourselves to a little pain, and sleep, saying to the world, ‘Godspeed.’”

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“Donnie Darko” (2001)

One of the best religious-themed speeches comes from a movie about a young man who sees a giant rabbit.

Darko, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, is sitting in the office of Dr. Lillian Thurman (Katharine Ross). He’s disturbed by the fact that everyone dies alone.

This is Darko’s speech:

Donnie: “I mean I’d like to believe I’m not (alone), but I’ve just … I’ve just never seen any proof. So I … I just don’t debate it anymore, you know. It’s like I could spend my whole life debating it over and over and weighing the pros and cons and in the end I still don’t have any proof. So I just, I just don’t debate it anymore. It’s absurd.”

Dr. Thurman: “The search for God is absurd?”

Donnie: “It is if everyone dies alone.”

Dr. Thurman: “Does that scare you?”

Donnie: “I don’t want to be alone.”

“The Greatest Story Ever Told” (1965)

The final scene of this movie about the life of Jesus shows him after the resurrection. The final monologue is a mix of Biblical verses and scriptwriting. But the scene is memorable not only for Max von Sydow’s Jesus in the clouds with the Hallelujah Chorus playing in the background, but for the words signifying that his apostles are to spread the word and he will be at their sides.

This is Jesus’ speech in the film:

“Go now and teach all nations. Make it your first care to love one another and to find the kingdom of God, and all things shall be yours without me asking. Do not fret then over tomorrow. Leave tomorrow to fret over its own needs for today, today’s troubles are enough.
And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

“Ben-Hur” (1959)

The chariot scene is what is best remembered about “Ben-Hur.” However, the teachings of Jesus play a role throughout the movie.

As the film nears the end, Judah Ben-Hur, played by Charlton Heston, has been through a lot. He lost his power as a Judean prince, was thrown in a Roman galley and eventually ventured back home only to hear that his mother and sister have died (though they have not).
But Heston does not get the classic religious speech. That honor falls to his true love, Esther (Haya Harareet). She has seen Jesus teach and tries to convince Ben-Hur that peace is the true path to happiness. It’s a nice monologue, but it does not prevent Ben-Hur from getting in the chariot to defeat an enemy.

This is Esther’s speech:

“His voice traveled with such a still purpose. It was more than a voice, a man more than a man. He said, ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they obtain mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.’”

“The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988)

This movie provided an interesting – and oh so controversial – look at the last days of Christ as he avoided crucifixion and gave in to temptation. But, controversy about the scenes in the movie aside, there is a classic religious-themed speech delivered by Christ, played here by Willem Dafoe.

Dafoe’s speech:

“I’m here to tear down everything around you, and you know what I’m going to replace it with? Something new. God. The world of God.

So take your bread and give it to the poor. What difference does it matter what you own? You have gold and silver. It’s going to rot, and that rot is going to eat away your heart. All of you, there will be a flood and there will be a fire. Everything will be destroyed, but there will be a new arc riding on that fire. And I hold the keys, and I open the door and I decide who goes in and who doesn’t.”

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A movie doesn't have to be religious in approach to have a classic religious themed speech. Of course, the more religion-based a movie is, the more likely for dialogue on that topic.
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Sunday, 03 May 2015 04:35 AM
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