Wednesday, June 22, 2005


I caught the American Film Institute's top 100 movie quotes last night.

I'm not about to engage in what should have made the list (what? not one quotation from a Quentin Tarantino movie?). Any list is bound to have omissions. The whole list isn't as much about ranking as much as it is about pointing out just how much these words have become part of our culture, part of our lives.

I was in England as an exchange student for a semester in college with a group of about twenty other college kids. We hopped on a charter bus in Oxford and went to Bath and Stonehenge to see the sites. We took these trips as part of a month-long British history, culture, and civilization orientation course. We'd been to Stratford-upon-Avon, to London, and one of the trips was Bath and Stonehenge. I don't remember much of the trip, except posing for pictures, but on the long way home, the bus had television and a VCR and, for reasons I don't understand, we end up putting in a beat-up VHS tape of "A Few Good Men."

The movie's winding toward its finale as we wind our way back to our destination near the Bodleian. We arrive, the movie's cut off right before the final confrontation, and we're told it's time to go. Of course, Jack Nicholson lecturing Tom Cruise at the film's end is the only reason to watch this movie, so we convince the driver and our teacher guide to let us stay and watch. Finally, we all got what we stayed for:

"You want answers!?"

"I want the truth!"

"You can't handle the truth!"

The whole bus explodes into applause. It's total pandemonium. We were cheering, yelling, screaming. It was one of the most incredible movie-watching experiences I've ever had, and it happened one September evening on a bus in Oxford with a Tom Cruise movie.

1 comment:

Chan said...

My only beef with the popularity of "you can't handle the truth" is the Seinfeld factor. Why does George feel the need to share this line, poorly, with his friends many times over. Either I've seen the same episode two dozen times or the character says it a lot. Either way it bugged the hell out of me.

I agree, though, that Tarantino's absence is simple unbelievable. There are too many classic lines to quote, many a bit too offensive (depending on the audience). Notwithstanding, he also comes up with great soundtracks and some killer names: next to Anakin, Hattori tops my list for character as well as possible son's names.