Robin Williams: ‘Dead Poets Society’: Carpe Diem, 1989

In the 1989 movie Dead Poets Society, the actor Robin Williams plays a teacher trying to energize his students through poetry. The Latin phrase “Carpe Diem” means ‘seize the day’ or make the most of the moment.

The full script for the movie can be found at

KEATING Now, Mr… Pitts. That’s a rather unfortunate name. Mr. Pitts, where are you?

KEATING Mr. Pitts, would you open your hymnal to page 542 and read the first stanza of the poem you find there?

PITTS “To the virgins, to make much of time”?

KEATING Yes, that’s the one. Somewhat appropriate, isn’t it.

PITTS “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old time is still a flying, and this same flower that smiles today, tomorrow will be dying.”

KEATING Thank you Mr. Pitts. “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.” The Latin term for that sentiment is Carpe Diem. Now who knows what that means?

MEEKS Carpe Diem. That’s “seize the day.”

KEATING Very good, Mr.-

MEEKS Meeks.

KEATING Meeks. Another unusual name. Seize the day. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. Why does the writer use these lines?

CHARLIE Because he’s in a hurry.

KEATING No, ding!

KEATING Thank you for playing anyway. Because we are food for worms lads. Because, believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold, and die.

KEATING Now I would like you to step forward over here and peruse some of the faces from the past. You’ve walked past them many times. I don’t think you’ve really looked at them.

KEATING They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you. Their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen. Do you hear it?

KEATING [whispers] Carpe.

KEATING [whispers again] Carpe. Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.

Alan Shore: ‘Boston Legal’ The Mighty Rogues, 2008

In the episode “Mighty Rogues” in Season 4 the series Boston Legal, Alan Shore (the actor James Spader) defends a client in a courtroom debate on euthanasia for an Alzheimer’s patient.

Transcripts for the series are available at on the website

Alan Shore:
This is not a new debate, but the fact that we still continue to have the debate in this country baffles me. People are helped to die every single day in virtually every hospital. In the hospices, at home, all under the wink-wink of pain management. And yet every time someone suggests bringing this practice out of the closet opponents leap up screaming, “There’s potential for abuse!” “We’ll end up killing people who wanna live!” Come on! If there’s potential for abuse then by all means let’s regulate it. Have an administrative hearing, or go to court like we’re doing now. But there’s much more potential for abuse when we do it secretly!

AAG Jeremy Hollis:
No, no, no. There’s a good reason for the secrecy. The last thing we want to do is to cultivate a culture of suicide. Almost twenty percent of today’s teenagers contemplate taking their own lives at one time or another. Recent five-year analysis showed a twenty percent rise in suicides among middle-aged people. It’s becoming epidemic! Not the time to lift the stigma.

Alan Shore: We would not be sending the message that…

AAG Jeremy Hollis: Oh yes we would, Mr. Shore. You make it permissible, that’s one step closer to making it acceptable. And the real danger is that elderly parents start thinking maybe it’s their duty to spare their children so they won’t drain their finances.

Alan Shore:
This would not be that case.

AAG Jeremy Hollis: Could be tomorrow’s case.

Alan Shore: Which is why we take it on a case by case basis. Addressing all the concerns you raised, but why must we have an absolute blanket ban when it causes such immeasurable suffering? For so many!

Judge Victoria Peyton:
Because it’s not potential for abuse that’s really in play, Counsel. Let’s all admit that. It’s politics. And the legislator gets to make the laws. Not the Judges.

Alan Shore: But it’s for the Judges to safeguard the constitution, included therein is our fundamental right to privacy. Can there be anything more private, more personal than the destiny of one’s own body? One’s life. It’s also for the Judges to step in and be humane when a gutless, politically expedient Congress refuses to do so. My God, we put dogs to sleep! To spare their needless suffering. Why don’t we extend the same compassion to human beings? This man is terminal. He will die. He fears people. All people. He can’t control his bowels. He is in utter lack of cognizance and an inability to have any meaningful exchange or even contact. Would you choose to live like that? Would anybody?

AAG Jeremy Hollis: To allow assisted suicide is to say that life itself has no intrinsic value. No sanctity.

Alan Shore: Oh baloney! I’m saying Walter Schmidt’s life in its current state has no intrinsic value. He lies in his bed with no apparent capacity to discern or think. His days have devolved into a horrible cycle of soiling his bed sheets and screaming incoherently at the very touch of the nurse who cleans him. His life is a misery. I’m sorry, there is no sanctity in that. I don’t care what…

I’m sorry.

My best friend has Alzheimer’s. In the very early stages, it hasn’t… He is a grand lover of life, and will be for some time. I believe even when his mind starts to really go he’ll still fish, he’ll laugh, and love. And as it progresses he’ll still wanna live because there’ll be value for him in a friendship, in a cigar. The truth is, I don’t think he’ll ever come to me and say, “This is the day I want to die.” But the day is coming. And he won’t know it. This is perhaps the most insidious thing about Alzheimer’s. But you see, he trusts me to know when that day has arrived. He trusts me to safeguard his dignity, his legacy and self-respect. He trusts me to prevent his end from becoming a mindless piece of mush. And I will. It will be an unbearably painful thing for me but I will do it because I love him. I will end his suffering. Because it’s the only decent, humane, and loving thing a person can do. Ms. Schmidt is here today because she loves her father. She’s asking you to show mercy that the law refuses to.

AAG Jeremy Hollis: She is asking you to play God.

Alan Shore: Your Honor, whatever one’s believe in God, I know we can all agree, some lives are taken far to early, and others far too late.

Jack Nicholson: Why can’t we all just get along? 1996: ‘Mars Attacks’

In the 1996 movie ‘Mars Attacks’ Jack Nicholson asks the question which was made famous by Rodney King. “Why can’t we all just get along?” The complete transcript is available here.

Why… are you doing this? Why? Isn’t the universe big enough… for both of us? Ha ha ha ha. What is wrong with you people?

We could work together. Why be enemies? Because we’re different? Is that why?

Think of the things that we could do.

Think how strong we would be. Earth… and Mars… Together.

There is nothing that we could not accomplish. Think about it. Think about it.

Why destroy… when you can create? We can have it all, or we can smash it all.

Why can’t we… work out our differences? Why can’t we… work things out?

Little people… why can’t we all just… get along?


What’s this?

Ack! Ack ack! Ack ack!

Tom Cruise / Jack Nicholson: A Few Good Men

Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men.” Tom Cruise is a lawyer in the US Army, questioning Jack Nicholson in a military court regarding the death of a new recruit during training. Cruise met a wall of silence trying to investigate the death, which occurred following a ‘Code Red,’ a term used to indicate that a recruit should be dealt with using maximum force by his classmates and officers. Such a command could only be given by a superior officer such as Colonel Jessep (Jack Nicholson).

KAFFEE (Tom Cruise)
Colonel Jessep, did you order the Code Red?

You don’t have to answer that question.

JESSEP (Jack Nicholson)
I’ll answer the question. You want answers?

I think I’m entitled to them.

You want answers?!

I want the truth.

You can’t handle the truth!

Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: That Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.

We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use ’em as a punchline.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it. I’d rather if you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

Did you order the code red?

I did the job you sent me to do.

Did you order the code red?

You’re goddamn right I did.

Colin Firth: Oscar acceptance speech, Best Actor 2011

The full transcript can be found on the website.

I have a feeling my career has just peaked. My deepest thanks to the Academy. I’m afraid I have to warn you that I’m experiencing stirrings. Somewhere in the upper abdominals which are threatening to form themselves into dance moves, which, er, joyous as they may be for me, it would be extremely problematic if they make it to my legs before I get off stage.

So I’m going to do my best to be brief with my gratitude first for being on this extraordinary list of fellow nominees. Something quite formidable and possibly the greatest honor of this. All the crew and my fellow cast members, those who are not here, and those who are, Geoffrey, Helena, and Guy, whose virtuosity made it very very difficult for me to be as bad as I was planning to be. And David Seidler whose own struggles have given so many people the benefit of his very beautiful voice and Tom Hooper for the immense courage and clear sightedness with which he interpreted that. The men who finessed this to the screen, Gareth, Emile, Iain, Xavier, and of course, Harvey, who first took me on 20 years ago when I was a mere child sensation.

And, so, and all the people who have been rooting for me back home. Em, Also Jessica Kolstad, my friend, Paul Lyon-Maris, and Chris Andrews for bearing with me through some of the less fortunate moments as well as the good ones and my very fortunate friendship with Tom Ford who to whom I owe a very big piece of this. And to the Anglo-Italian-American-Canadian axis, which makes up my family and Livia for putting up with my fleeting delusions of royalty and who I hold responsible for this and for really everything that’s good that’s happened since I met her. Now if you’ll all excuse me, I have some impulses I have to tend to backstage. Thank you very much.