Death Monologues

WARNING: THIS POST IS ABOUT FILMS AND CONTAINS SPOILERS!

I like monologues. I do. In fact, I was thinking about Samuel L. Jackson’s “Ezekiel 25:17” speech in Pulp Fiction; and ended up finding a whole bunch of monologues on google (some of which I wouldn’t mind memorizing for dramatic effect). But undeniably the best kind of monologues are death monologues: the dramatic passages when a character is about to die. I realize that there are probably heaps of great ones out there I’ve never seen, or even ones I have and have forgotten about, but I wanted to share my (at the moment, to the best of my recollection, etc…) favourite “death monologues”. On second thoughts, that sounds a bit morbid…

I also wanted to include the death monologues of the three Irish Catholics in Brian Friel’s Freedom of the City, but I don’t have the book with me and can’t find the complete quotes on the internet, so I’ll update this ASAP. Watch this space!

Bronze Medal: At the end of Donnie Darko, Donnie sits in his car with the body of girlfriend, Gretchen and awaits the prophesized end of the world: the famous “Twenty-eight days, six hours, forty-two minutes and twelve seconds” have elapsed. Its complicated if you haven’t seen the film, but it involves tangent universes or something like that. In the end, Donnie, saved from death at the start of the film, puts into motion a series of events that lead to the very death he initially avoided- but doing so puts everything that is wrong right again. His final spoken words in the film are in the form of a letter written to another character, narrated in voiceover: “Dear Roberta Sparrow, I have reached the end of your book and… there are so many things that I need to ask you. Sometimes I’m afraid of what you might tell me. Sometimes I’m afraid that you’ll tell me that this is not a work of fiction. I can only hope that the answers will come to me in my sleep. I hope that when the world comes to an end, I can breathe a sigh of relief, because there will be so much to look forward to.”

Silver Medal: In The Shawshank Redemption, veteran inmate Brooks Hatlen is finally released from prison, but is unable to cope outside the penal system and takes his own life. His final words are in a tragic letter to his friends: “Dear fellas, I can’t believe how fast things move on the outside. I saw an automobile once when I was a kid but now they’re everywhere. The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry. The parole board got me into this halfway house called “The Brewer”. And a job bagging groceries at the Foodway. It’s hard work and I try to keep up but my hands hurt most of the time. I don’t think the store manager likes me very much. Sometimes after work I go to the park and feed the birds. I keep thinking Jake might just show up and say hello. But he never does. I hope wherever he is he’s okay and makin’ new friends. I have trouble sleepin’ at night. I have bad dreams like I’m falling. I wake up scared. Sometimes it takes me a while to remember where I am. Maybe I should get me a gun, an, an rob the Foodway so they’d send me home. I could shoot the manager while I was at it, sort of like a bonus. I guess I’m too old for that sort of nonsense anymore. I don’t like it here. I’m tired of being afraid all the time. I’ve decided not to stay. I doubt they’ll kick up any fuss. Not for an old crook like me.”

Gold Medal: Probably the most effective death scene I have ever scene. In Blade Runner, the “replicant” Roy (Rutger Hauer) is literally running out of time as all of his kind have been genetically designed with a lifespan of four year to stop them developing powerful emotions and becoming a threat to human society. Towards the end of the film, he pursues Deckard(Harrison Ford) after the death of his girlfriend and the two end up on a building’s rooftop. When Deckard falls, Roy pulls him back up onto the roof. Deckard retreats uncertainly from the volatile Roy, but Roy sits down and delivers a dramatic monologue before dying. A very good end to a very good film, with spacey but emotional music by Vangelis. Roy’s speech (written by the actor himself!) goes: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.” No wonder this is often counted as one of the greatest movie monologues of all time.

I would be very interested to hear other people’s opinions and their favourite monologues, especially if I’ve missed something really deserving; or perhaps a movie I haven’t seen.

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