If you know me, you know I love poetry and films. One predates the other by thousands of years but in this day and age they are becoming increasingly similar. Here is a list of 14 times films used poetry to awesome effect.
14. 22 Jump Street
Oscar Wilde said “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” so I am gonna apply that here. I am sure everybody is aware of this, and honestly only 60% of open mics are actually like this. Jonah Hill does a wonderful job here, my second favourite part of the movie, beaten only by “My name is Jeff”
13. So I married an Axe Murderer
So I Married an Axe Murder features a brilliant original poem performed by Mike Myers (Shrek, Austin Powers). In this spoken word piece Myers character throws shade on all the women in his life that left him feeling blue.
12. Blade Runner
You may have been expecting “Tears in Rain.” That final monologue has become one of films greatest soliloquies. However, Blade Runner actually borrows a few lines from famous poems, when the Replicant’s use these quotes with their sinister tone it adds an eerie intelligence to their characters. I have chosen to use a purposely misquoted William Blake’s America: A Prophecy.
11. Ill Manors
Awesome movie? Maybe not. Awesome Poetry? Definitely. I am not a huge fan of Plan B’s directorial debut, it’s essentially an urban Lord of the Rings where Francis (Yeah from Deadpool) walks around to find his phone. I respect this film massively for the inclusion of John Cooper Clarke, reading his poems at a pub open mic. That is the experience of a spoken word artist right there, maybe not those as famous as the big JCC though.
10. Four Weddings and a Funeral
I love John Hannah. I think it was his wonderfully Scottish portrayal of ruthless roman Batiatus in Spartacus, which you loved when you were 18 but now is just an over-sexed, super violent, less intelligent Game of Thrones. Anyway, here is John Hannah reading Auden in its entirety. What more do you need?
9. Dangerous Minds
I was really tempted just to post the music video to Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise, now that’s poetry. In Dangerous Minds, Michelle Pfieffer (Good) has to teach some poor kids (Bad) about words and stuff, she used poetry, music and…karate?? It all works out in the end and if it doesn’t feel satisfactory just bump that Coolio track again.
Skyfall is a great film. It’s even a great James Bond film when you judge it against the Daniel Craig embodiment of Bond. Here, M quotes Alfred Tennyson’s Ulysses , a harrowing reminder of the constant clash of the old versus the new, a key theme throughout the entire film.
7. Death Proof
Tarantino says it’s his worst film. If you’re somebody (like me) who spent their teenage years trying to watch every horror film ever starting at Numero Uno (The Devil’s Castle, 1896) then Death Proof may have a place in your heart for the way it pays homage to it’s wonderful grind house predecessors. What makes it extra sweet for me is Stuntman Mike quoting Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening in a super creepy but somewhat manner.
6. Apocalypse Now
T.S Eliot’s The Hollow Men appears in Apocalypse Now. Read by a still wonderful Marlon Brando, I don’t really want to say much more. If you haven’t seen the film, do not watch the above clip instead get yourself down the blockbuster and rent the video immediately Granddad.
Holes was genius. You read it for GCSE English, it starred a not yet viral Shia Labeouf and the main character’s surname was his first name spelled backwards. Admit it, when you were a kid you loved it, and they even snuck in some Edgar Allen Poe. You know before you knew who he was in your goth stage.
4. 10 things I hate about you
Remember Kat? Remember Kat’s Sonnet? Yeah that’s a love poem and you know it, you can tell from how many times she uses the word “hate”. On reflection I feel like my entire literary career may have been inspired by this piece.
3. Kindergarten Cop
The ultimate action film for 90’s Kids. For years film makers had been posing the question “Can Arnold Schwarzenegger act?” but only Kindergaten Cop had the gall to ask “Can Arnold Scwarzenegger read?” Here he is reading some poetry from A A Milne.
The second sentient robot film on the list, but this one is a Spielberg masterclass. Its a half crafted fairy tale mixed with a sci-fi fable. Here Yeat’s poem The Stolen Child is shown to David by Dr Know.
1. Citizen Kane
Considered one of the best films of all time, usually by people who haven’t seen it, Orson Welle’s 1941 drama. I mean it is great for the the time, it is kind of complex and will hold your interest but does it have giant robots fighting monsters, or any of the current Marvel/DC roster? It does not. It does have some poetry though, which is a strong second.
Disclaimer; I couldn’t find the clip that uses Coleridge’s Kubla Khan but I found a Minecraft remake. I think it’s what Welles would have wanted.