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Poetry in the movies

How many poems, or lines from poems, can you find being recited in movies or TV shows?

Lots of films include a character reciting a poem by heart. Some are about a poet’s life, for example Bright Star about John Keats or A Quiet Passion about Emily Dickinson.  Other films have nothing to do with poetry but a character speaks lines from a poem as part of the story. We’ve rounded up three examples for you here:

Morgan Freeman reciting W.E. Henley’s poem ‘Invictus’ in character as Nelson Mandela in the film about the South African rugby team, Invictus

Robert Redford reciting S.T. Coleridge’s poem ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ as Dennis Finch-Hatton in the film about writer Isak Dinesen’s life, Out of Africa

Judi Dench reciting Alfred Tennyson’s poem ‘Ulysses’ as M in the James Bond film, Skyfall

Below you’ll find videos of students reciting two of these poems, plus links to the poem texts and the movie clips. What are the poems doing in each of these films? How many other examples of poetry in the movies can you find? Why do you think lines or verses of poems are used so often in films?