Some of the greatest quotes in movie history are truly great only in the context of that movie. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ominous “I’ll be back” quote in The Terminator. An incredible line, but taken outside that scene, it’s rather trite — something a husband says to his wife when he goes to the store. Then there are those great movie quotes that can inspire us to persevere in hard times, or make us think about the meaning of life. Here are 10 film quotes, some famous, a few rather obscure that are great inspirational thoughts for everyday living.
10. “I know what I have to do now. I’ve gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”
— Cast Away (2000)
Translation: No matter how bad things look, keep pushing ahead — tomorrow could bring a welcome change.
9. “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.”
— Braveheart (1995)
This one speaks for itself. It’s such a powerful phrase it served as the tagline for the film. Mel Gibson’s character, Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace, also had another interesting quote in the movie: “We all end up dead, it’s just a question of how and why.”
8. “Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss.”
— The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Seize every opportunity in front of you.
7. “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”
— The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Tim Burton’s character, Andy Dufresne, used this line to explain his burning desire to escape from Shawshank Prison.
6. “I don’t want to survive. I want to live.”
— 12 Years A Slave (2013)
That award-winning film was based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 book, which included that line.
5. “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.”
— Pride of the Yankees (1942)
Actor Gary Cooper’s quote, of course, came from the real-life farewell speech Lou Gehrig gave at Yankee Stadium in 1939. If the man already suffering from ALS — what would come to be known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease — could find reason to give thanks in that moment, you can, too, no matter the situation.
4. “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
— Star Wars (1977)
Yoda’s advice here to Luke Skywalker is that effort isn’t enough — results matter.
3. “Just keep swimming.”
— Finding Nemo (2003)
It’s simple, sure. But when life puts obstacles in your path, Dory’s singsong little quote (memorably voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) is good advice.
2. “You got a dream … You gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.”
— The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Christopher Gardner’s real-life, rags-to-riches story of homeless man rising to high-paid professional is perfectly embodied in this quote.
1. “We just don’t recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they’re happening. Back then I thought, ‘Well, there’ll be other days.’ I didn’t realize that that was the only day.”
— Field of Dreams (1989)
This observation voiced by Burt Lancaster’s character is quite profound. Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham was an actual player who had only one game in the major leagues in 1905. His character shared his regret for not savoring that one moment. Relish the experience when your son hits the winning home run, or your daughter has a phenomenal piano recital. Because those moments may never come again.