To inspire and to be inspired really are two of the most wonderful gifts in life.
I find inspiration in many forms: music, a story in the news, artwork, a good deed from a friend, a TED talk and of course theatre and the movies. Inspirational words or actions can very often be great motivators for positivity, they can help when things haven’t gone your way and they can motivate you when you feel the odds are against you.
Movies are one place which I constantly find inspiration – the way a scene is edited, the music that accompanies the scene, the images chosen, the acting and of course the writing can all come together and create moments of great inspiration. I can often leave a cinema with a new sense of hope and a stronger motivation to follow my dream. If an audition doesn’t go my way I will often just watch one of these moments to re-focus my perspective and help change my glass from half empty to half full.
This beautiful scene and speech from the 2007 film Freedom Writers features actress Pat Carroll playing the role of Miep Gies.
Miep Gies is the woman who sheltered Anne Frank from the Nazi soldiers. She has been invited to speak at a school were a new teacher Erin Gruwell (Hilary Swank) has been trying to help her pupils become tolerant and end the racism and subsequent violence which is so strong in their school and society.
Miep shares her experiences hiding Anne Frank and when one of the students tells her that she is his hero, she denies it.
I find this so moving – she doesn’t consider herself a hero because she was just doing what she thought was the right thing to do. We all have the power to do good and help others but how many of us actually choose to do that, sometimes we take the easier route and will turn a blind eye or cross the street to avoid doing the right thing.
Doing the right thing should not be a question of being a hero or not, but being a normal person. Doing the right thing should be something that everyone does everyday.
Any Given Sunday
Am I sporty? Not in the least! Yet I still find inspiration in this speech from the Any Given Sunday featuring the always great Al Pacino.
Al Pacino plays the coach of a once brilliant football team who are now riddled with injury and dissension and is subsequently playing awfully. This speech helps them to put aside their differences and motivates them to work together as a team.
This speech is a roller coaster of emotions which takes the audience on a journey. Pacino is pitch perfect in his delivery of this speech – he begins slowly, hesitantly but grows in speed and volume until he reaches a crescendo.
The message behind this speech is great for building a team or for motivating you when it feels like the world is against you. You have a choice – you can either let the world knock you down or you can choose to climb inch by inch and get to where you deserve to be.
Check out this BBC Radio response to a recent remark from England manager Roy Hodgson that the scouse accent is not inspirational!
The Shawshank Redemption
One of my all time favourite and inspirational movies is the 1995 film The Shawshank Redemption
I think it is so easy for any of us to get ‘institutionalised’ – you do not have to be imprisoned to feel trapped. We can be trapped by jobs or circumstances.
Maybe you have debts after training which means you have taken a 9-5 job which is not truly the one you want. It is so easy to still be in that same job 4 or 5 years later because it has become the safe or comfortable option. The prison, your incarceration, is not something external, it is not outside of your control – it is inside you and you just don’t realise it.
It takes courage to make a life changing decision but with the right plan everything is possible.
Get busy living or get busy dying
Good Will Hunting
This speech from the late, great Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting is up there with the most motivational and inspirational speeches ever.
When Robin Williams sadly died in August 2014 fans left tributes at this bench in Boston where this incredible speech was filmed.
For us artists this speech is incredibly powerful. Not everything can be learnt from books. The truly important, and powerful, moments in our life are not just those lessons we learnt from school or from books – the real learning begins when you can open your eyes to the world around you.
Open your eyes, take off your blinkers, and begin to collect your own moments of meaningful life experiences.
I think this movie moment is all the more powerful because it is performed by Robin Williams. I honestly believe there is real power when we see a comedian doing drama, because we are so used to seeing them smile and act for laughs there seems to be an extra sobriety and seriousness when they drop the comedy
… which leads me to nicely to my last clip …
The Great Dictator
Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator delivers perhaps one of the greatest speeches ever recorded in film.
Charlie Chaplin who made us laugh with his silence can make us cry with his words. This is perhaps one of his finest moments. This movie was Chaplin’s answer to the plight that Jews, Gypsies and Homosexuals were facing under the Nazi regime. Other studios were frightened to make a statement so Chaplin invested his own money and made this movie to shine a light on the inhumanity of Hitler’s Germany.
Chaplin hadn’t really spoken on film before and that makes this message all the more powerful. It is a direct address to the audience and it is sadly still as relevant today as it was back then.
No matter how dark your world may seem there is always hope and this ‘blueprint for a better world’ never fails to inspire me and I personally find it almost Shakespearean in its power and its significance.