As Meg Ryan’s character in You’ve Got Mail, Kathleen Kelly would say, the books (or movies) we grow up with become a part of our identities. The themes and impactful moments will leave everlasting impressions that stay with audiences. But often, when revisiting these stories as adults, specific quotations affect people even deeper.
1. “To Live Would Be an Awfully Big Adventure.”- Hook (1991)
Steven Spielberg’s whimsical take about a grown-up Peter Pan features numerous poignant lines. The most emotional comes at the film’s conclusion and acts as a counter to an earlier moment. Throughout the movie, Peter repeatedly claims, “to die would be an awfully big adventure,” a somewhat immature and insensitive statement.
But when he returns home with his children, that changes to “to live.” This hits viewers much more so as adults because they understand the gift, preciousness, and privilege of living, no matter how long. And as a parent, the reckless attitude of youth will disappear.
2. “Soon We Must All Face the Choice Between What Is Right and What Is Easy.”- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Albus Dumbledore says this profound line at the end of Harry Potter’s fourth year at Hogwarts, but more importantly, right after the return of the evil wizard Voldemort. Even young viewers have some semblance of its truth. But hearing it as an adult feels more impactful. The right path and the easy path do not always coincide. Adults know that doing the right thing can be difficult or painful, but it must still be done.
3. “Life Is Pain, Highness. Anyone Who Says Differently Is Selling Something.”- The Princess Bride (1987)
Although Wesley’s line to Buttetcup reeks of bitterness, a grain of truth remains. Maturing shows people that altruism is not universal. People will peddle snake oil that will supposedly cure illness or try to sell things that will make you happy.
4. “People Who Have No Hopes Are Easy To Control.”- The Neverending Story (1984)
It’s difficult to fathom the existence of a hopeless world or how much power corrupts when we are children. By nature, childhood for many feels innocent and carefree. Years later, hearing this line from the dark, existential movie The Neverending Story hits harder than most because we understand how those in power will manipulate and exploit feelings of despair. Hopelessness leads to feelings of desperation and, therefore, leaves the door open for control.
5. “When You Look for the Bad in Mankind, Expecting To Find It, You Surely Will.”- Pollyanna (1960)
Even as a child, I understood the meaning behind this line from the Walt Disney classic. But as an adult, it holds even more weight because it comes with years of experience and observation. In this scene, the Reverend Ford reads this quotation engraved on Pollyanna’s necklace. It ignites a revelation in him, and he realizes his failures.
The quote comments on an indisputable truth about society. Seeing the bad in others, especially with preconceived beliefs or biases, will come easily. Finding the goodness in humanity will often take more effort.
6. “Courage Is Not the Absence of Fear, but Rather the Judgement That Something Else Is More Important.”- The Princess Diaries (2001)
Understanding that true bravery does include fearlessness only comes with age. In The Princess Diaries, Mia learns this lesson as a teenager. But adults will grasp this concept even more.
It takes time to understand the world entirely, and with that comes fear. But we also learn we can be afraid and courageous simultaneously. Bring fearless exudes recklessness. But being fearful and still diving into danger or the unknown shows the most profound form of courage because it stems from knowledge.
7. “I Am a Princess! All Girls Are.”- A Little Princess (1995)
In A Little Princess, Sara Crewe brims with wisdom and positivity. Despite losing everything and being forced to work as a servant, she doesn’t lose her spirit or the beliefs that her father taught her. In one poignant scene, Sara says to the cold Miss Minchin, “I am a princess! All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics, even if they dress in rags, even if they’re not pretty or smart or young, they’re still princesses- all of us.” Children can feel this in their hearts, but adults will also feel this deep in their souls. Life can drag even the brightest spirits down. But what Sara proclaims shows adults that what matters comes from within, and to let anyone make you feel worthless.
8. “Childhood Slips Like Sand Through a Sieve.”- Mary Poppins (1964)
Mary Poppins delights viewers of all ages. As a kid, the up-tempo songs and whimsical vignettes will enthrall them. But adults, especially parents, will see the depth and layers and the moment with Mr. Banks through a different lens. In one song, Mr. Banks expresses frustration at the chaos Mary Poppins has brought into their household.
But the clever Bert reminds him of what he should focus on- his children. He uses reverse psychology affirming Mr. Banks’ preoccupation with work, but then adds a significant truth: “You’ve got to grind, grind, grind at that grindstone/Though childhood slips like sand through a sieve/And all too soon they’ve up and grown/And then they’ve flown/And it’s too late for you to give.” Bert reminds Mr. Banks and the audience how children grow up so fast that the “I’ll spend time with them later” mentality will inevitably result in regret.
9. “If You Can’t Accept Anything on Faith, Then You’re Doomed for a Life Dominated by Doubt.”- Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
The wise children will understand this quote from the Miracle in 34th Street remake to some degree. Generally, kids believe and have easier because of their innocence and purity. But hearing this as a grown adult will be more emotional and profound because losing faith comes more easily.
At this moment, Kris Kringle beautifully reminds the audience that the represents humanity’s ability to suppress hateful and selfish ways- and to accept something with no proof, just faith. No matter what one’s beliefs may be, this line will be impactful.
10. “Your Mother Can’t Be With You Anymore.”- Bambi (1942)
Bambi remains one of the most beautiful and poignant animated films ever, thanks to its timeless messages about life. The moment Bambi loses his mother hits deeply at any age, especially when one’s story echoes this. But as an adult, death becomes a more frequent occurrence, and the reality of losing one’s parents feels even more imminent.
11. “So Shines a Good Deed in a Weary World.”- Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory features many memorable quotes. The line that Wonka says at the film’s end, when Charlie gives up the coveted gobstopper, utters these meaningful words. It may not mean as much hearing these words as a kid. But hearing them again as an adult will elicit many emotions. And that comes with the knowledge that good deeds feel more scarce as we grow older, especially in the less innocent world of adulthood.
12. “My Uncle Learned To Laugh, and I Learned to Cry.”- The Secret Garden (1993)
All viewers can feel The Secret Garden’s thoughtful and inspiring nature. But there’s something about Mary’s line at the end of the film that will hit harder as an adult. That stems from how age, the state of the world, and personal experiences can lead to suppressing emotions. Seeing the beauty of Mary and her uncle opening up again, even in different ways, gives viewers a sense of catharsis.
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