I love a good rant.
I love to make them and, so long as I’m not the target, I usually enjoy listening to them as well. A well-executed rant is a pleasure to behold.
So for the next five weeks, I’ve decided to list the all time top five cinematic rants. If you were stuck on a desert island with one of these ranters, well…
…well, actually, I’d feel sorry for you. But to watch, rather than to be forced to watch, these rants are the gold standard.
Now, before we go any further, it’s important to distinguish between a speech and a rant. Because while all rants are speeches, not all speeches are rants. (Arguably, if your definition of a speech includes that it must be a monologue, not all rants are speeches. But let’s not split hairs too finely.)
A speech is much like a rant, in that it is spoken to an audience and intended to make a point, with the further intent of swaying the audience to agreeing with that point.
Rants differ in three major ways:
Firstly, the audience of a rant may be known, but it is rarely chosen. Speeches are pre-meditated, but rants are in the heat of the moment. Top Dollar’s inspirational outpouring to his men (moments before the Crow shows up and kills every man jack of them) may feature many rant-like aspects, but it’s a speech all the same, however fiery – he invited them there for the specific purpose of addressing them, after all.
Secondly, rants as a rule make their points with rather more force than a speech does. Consider the example of Tyler Durden: while there is much in the content of his words that resembles ranting, his delivery (most of the time, at least) is measured, almost laconic. A rant is expressed vehemently, or not at all – any attempt to provide a transcription of a rant should feature exclamation marks, possibly multiple exclamation marks, at the end of at least 90% of its sentences.
Thirdly, and finally, rants do not suffer from the same burdens of consistency or internal logic as speeches do. A rant, far more often than not, is incoherent, representing as it does the triumph of emotion over logic. Bugs Bunny rarely rants – Daffy Duck rarely does anything else.
Rants also have certain other qualities that distinguish them from other styles of speech. For example, a rant is rarely if ever brief. Riff Raff’s meltdown at the end of The Rocky Horror Picture Show certainly manifests in rant-style, but at a mere seven words in length (“They didn’t like me! Never liked me.“) it’s too brief to be truly considered a rant. (Or, alternately, at a mere seven words, it’s the shortest rant in cinematic history.)
So, who made the cut? Join me here next Saturday, and we’ll begin our countdown.