Most movie dialogue is bonded to the situation at hand. For example, when the Terminator says, “I’ll be back,” it’s all about what’s happening in that particular scene. But filmmakers sometimes take the next step and have their characters say things that could apply to lives outside the movie. Here’s an example from IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: “All you can take with you is that which you give away.” And one from GLADIATOR: “What we do in life echoes in eternity.”
Such illuminating truths aren’t found only in classics. MALLRATS gives us the truth that “You should learn to heed your own advice.” And in HAIRSPRAY we find “Having nothing builds character.” Of course, you might consider HAIRSPRAY a classic. Which brings to mind the line in CODE OF SILENCE: “When I want your opinion, I’ll beat it out of you.”
The point? When you’re writing dialogue, allow yourself to think beyond the moment. While Louis B. Mayer (or his publicity flack) warned us against using movies to send preachy messages, sometimes a spot of wisdom can add delight to a story.
If you want more examples, you’ll find it in MOVIE QUOTES TO LIVE BY, edited by the staff of MobileMovieMaking. The book is available as a Kindle for free October 5, 10, 11 and 12. If you want a pdf version, just click the link below.
Of course, we wouldn’t object your posting a review on Amazon. We’re not worried that you’ll be negative. After all, as we learn in the movie CHOPPER: “Even Beethoven had his critics. See if you can name three of them.”