In 2005, the American Film Institute polled a jury of 1,500 film artists, critics, and historians to come up with 100 Years, 100 Movie Quotes, a list of the most memorable movie quotes in Hollywood history. On their own, the list reads a lot like the AFI followed the advice of Claude Rains’s character from Casablanca and rounded up the usual suspects (not so coincidentally deemed the 32nd most memorable movie quote in AFI’s list). It’s pretty boring.
Those same quotes turned into 100 simple charts by designer Flowing Data’s Nathan Yau, though? It makes Hollywood’s dusty old chestnuts seem awesome and fresh again. To convert cinematic sentiments into understandable diagrams, Yau has used every technique in the charting arsenal: pie charts, line graphs, bar charts, flow charts, and more.
Consider the most popular quote in movie history, from 1939’s Gone With The Wind: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Yau represents this quote as a Venn diagram in which two circles (one signifying “What I care about” and the other signifying “What you care about”) failing to overlap at a critical point, “Damn.” Other films which get the Venn diagram treatment include The Treasure Of Sierra Madre (“We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!), Now, Voyager (“Don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars.”) and On The Waterfront (“I coulda been a contender!”)
Other types of charts are represented as well. In Marathon Man, Laurence Olivier’s Nazi dentist tortures Dustin Hoffman’s character by constantly asking, “Is it safe?” and drilling into his tooth no matter what the answer. Yau diagrams this as a flow chart, where a box representing safeness flows into boxes for “Yes,” “No,” and “Unsure,” each of which then circles back to the beginning. And When Harry Met Sally’s famous coffee shop orgasm scene is represented as two soundwaves, one loud and one sotto voce, labeled “What she’s having” and “What I’ll have,” respectively.
Not all of the charts are total winners. Some–like Rocky’s “Yo, Adrian!”–don’t really lend themselves to charting, so Yau just relates these as simple drawings. Even so, with 100 charts to pick from, it’s easy to forgive the occasional dud. Either way, a Herculean charting effort like this deserves your full appreciation. As Yau might diagram with a scattered line chart across two axes denoting amount built and number of attendants, these charts prove the adage of AFI’s most memorable movie quote number 39: “If you build it, they will come.”
Check out the whole thing here.