Since there haven’t been any Descents the past two days because both Kyle and I have run out of funny (kind of) non sequiturs to jazz up our work days, I decided to come back to a series that I had abandoned here and talk about monologues!

It’s been a while since I’ve touched this segment. I’d like to blame it on the fact that my collection of plays is limited to crazy absurdist tragicomedies and Arthur Miller, but we all know the real reason is laziness. Thankfully I’m working now so my laziness takes a back seat to intense boredom and I come write about plays to keep myself entertained…if I had a lot of good plays to write about. Seeing as how I don’t, I’m going to talk about a movie today! Training Day directed by Antoine Fuqua to be more precise.

It doesn’t matter if it’s on film or on stage, what makes a great monologue is discovery, whether it be discovery for the character or discovery for the audience. What I mean by that is in a monologue a character can reveal something about themselves to the audience, for example Sterling Hayden’s monologue in Dr. Strangelove about the Russian’s plot to alter our “precious bodily fluids” clearly tells the audience that he’s off his rocker, or how Robert De Niro’s “Are you talking to me?” speech in Taxi Driver communicates the character’s isolation. Just as it can be revealing to an audience, a monologue can be revealing to a character as well. For example in Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, Benedick discovers that he has feelings for Beatrice as he’s speaking or in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Biff realizes what he wants to do with his life and that he is just a big a “fake” as his tragic father Willy as he’s confronting him.

The final monologue by Denzel Washington in Training Day is a combination of both; the monologue confirms the audience’s suspicion that Denzel’s character is crooked and it also acts as a medium of self discovery for him. Denzel delivers simple lines like “give me the money” with such a powerful craving that it becomes painfully obvious that his character is merely the broken frame of a stronger, cockier character that once stood tall. Yet even in his weakest moment when he realizes he is going to die, he knows he’s met his end, he still won’t admit it. He refuses to accept the inevitable defeat he’s found himself in and continues to keep his head held high, exclaiming at one point that “king kong ain’t got nothin on me!” as he crawls around on the asphalt, beaten and bleeding.

It’s this discovery and denial that make the monologue so captivating and Denzel’s demise (which at this point everyone knows is going to happen) all the more powerful. As you can tell, I love this movie and apparently so did a bunch of other people since Denzel won an Oscar for his performance in this bad boy. The monologue is just a tad bit too long for me to type out on here and since I’ve rambled on enough for one post, you can check out the video of it below.

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