I believe it was Lulu who said “Weeeeeeeeeeell…you know you make me wanna shout.” Shouting can vent anger, assert authority and assist the hard of hearing. When someone shouts you know they mean business, so turn your volume down because here is an examination of some of the greatest shouting in cinema.
There are many reasons to shout. Perhaps you’ve discovered your husband has been cheating, stubbed your toe, or buggered up the economy, but sometimes you shout because there are snakes on a plane, and, well, enough is enough. You guessed it, it’s Vertigo. Only joking, it’s Snakes on a Plane.
But before he was known for shouting snakes off a plane, Samuel L Jackson guaranteed no-one in LA would ever say “what” again in this scene from Pulp Fiction, cementing his place as one of the best shouters working in film today.
Someone else who got angry at having to repeat themselves was Commodus from Ridley Scott’s sword and sandal epic Gladiator. Before Joaquin Phoenix deconstructed his own celebrity for an elaborate piece of performance art he was an actor, and a damned good one at that. Even as the most powerful man in the Empire, he isn’t as loved as noble gladiator Maximus (Russell Crowe). Oh, and he also wants to check if he’s merciful. What do you reckon?
Pretty impressive outburst, right? But not as impressive as our next bit of shouting. Arnold Schwarzenegger has conquered bodybuilding, politics and business, but in Kindergarten Cop he struggles to control a room full of small children after a plot development leaves them in his charge. Kindergarten Cop is a rare Schwarzenegger film with no explosions, that is, except this one:
Seeing a hulk of a man reduced to unrestrained fury by some five year olds is about as far as possible from our next clip: an elderly gentleman shouting down a giant fire monster like it had scorched his topiary. Picture this: you’re standing opposite a balrog, a huge fire breathing devil-creature that’s crawled out from a mine. It’s trying to get past. Its wings flare up and its whip burns white with heat. Who wouldn’t let it pass? Gandalf, apparently, who, for legal reasons, has to make his intentions clear to the balrog at the soonest opportunity. I bet he’s wishing his staff wasn’t made of wood.
Why is it that shouting is so much more dramatic when it takes place at an enormous pit? I haven’t a clue, but it is, and Zack Snyder knows it.
One of the most iconic movie scenes in the last 10 years was the best thing about Zack Snyder’s awful Spartan romp. “This is Sparta!” King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) helpfully reminds this man, who was confused by the king’s Scottish accent. The guy he boots down the hole is a representative of Xerxes who’s, like, a goblin king or something. Morally you can’t shoot the messenger, true, but you sure as hell can kick him down a well. The messenger got the last laugh, however, as his rotting corpse contaminated the Spatans’ water supply and they all died of cholera.
We’ve seen a wide array of cinematic shouting, and I don’t know about you but my ears are ringing. But the end is in sight, as I’m about to name the greatest piece of movie shouting. Stand to attention, it’s Full Metal Jacket. Enjoy.