“Sons of Scotland, I am William
Wallace,” says Mel Gibson in “Braveheart,” just before launching into one of
the most popular speeches in movie history. How do we know it’s so popular?
Because professor Michael Eidenmuller says so.
Eidenmuller teaches communications at the University of Texas at Tyler, and
two years ago he founded the Web site AmericanRhetoric.com, a repository of
text and audio of the country’s most historically significant speeches.
The most recent addition to the site is the Movie Speeches Page, where he
lists the 22 movies that contain his favorite cinema speeches, and the one
that visitors most read or listen to is Gibson’s Wallace freedom speech to
the Scottish army at Stirling. No. 2 is George C. Scott addressing the 3rd
Army in “Patton” (pictured).
Because the nonprofit site’s purpose is education, Eidenmuller is confident
he’s not infringing on copyrights. He even links to Amazon.com, where
visitors can buy the movies he lists, which ought to make the studios happy.
“The educational value of movie rhetoric lies partly in trying to get
audiences to feel
something in their gut,” Eidenmuller said. “Actors are experts in delivering
symbols, and particularly in manipulating their voices to induce emotional participation in humans
who naturally, viscerally respond to verbal (and nonverbal) symbol
The site lets users suggest a movie speech for inclusion, and Eidenmuller
said he’ll add at least two new movies per month.
Naturally, the professor has his own favorites: both the opening and closing
filibuster speeches delivered by Jimmy Stewart in the movie “Mr. Smith Goes
“They represent a glorious moment in cinematic speechmaking history,” he
Nota Bene: This version modified
slightly from the original article.