Famous Movie Narrators

Matthew Broderick at the Oscars
Matthew Broderick (1st Left) at the 82nd Oscars

Famous movie narrators are the wonderful voices that carry the audience through the tale unfolding on the screen. The narrator can be a storyteller, a character in the film or just an observer. The key to a great narration is to use a voice filled with tremendous character, wit and clear emotional intonations.

Top Movie Narrations

Picking out a list of top narrators isn’t as simple as it sounds. The narrator must not only add to the texture and theme of the movie, but they must not detract in any way from the story being told. The narrator must be so integral that the narration would be missed, but not so vital that the story cannot stand on its own. The best narrators are best friends to the audience, sharing their musings, observations and insights while enhancing the audience’s experience.

The Princess Bride

Peter Falk serves as both storyteller and narrator for Rob Reiner’s classic romance. Falk portrays Grandpa to Fred Savage’s Grandson. Grandson is ill, so Grandpa comes to spend the day with him and reads him the story of Princess Buttercup. The voices are heard regularly throughout the film, with scenes pausing mid-stream for a question and answer. The utterly charming narration enhances the epic tale of love and adventure.

Stand By Me

Based on a Stephen King novel, the classic coming of age tale is told from the viewpoint of an adult writer, Gordie (narration Richard Dreyfus, but played by Wil Wheaton in the film). The writer is recounting a boyhood memory that changed the lives of he and three friends. As the movie draws to a close, the writer reveals the fates of his companions one by one, with the recent death of one being the inspiration for telling the tale.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

The rowdy and irreverent John Hughes film focuses on too-cool-for-school Ferris Bueller, played by Matthew Broderick. The film follows the lengths that Bueller will go to enjoy a skip day from school with his girlfriend and best friend. Throughout the film, Broderick breaks the fourth wall to narrate the action, the thoughts and emotions of the characters around him.

The Shawshank Redemption

The film starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman follows the life of a man wrongfully incarcerated for the death of his wife and her lover. He spends two decades in a Maine prison, forging strong friendships and earning the loyalty of many with his financial savvy. In the end, the man’s innocence and patience pays off as he steals away to freedom. Red (Morgan Freeman) joins him in freedom after finally earning parole 40 years into his sentence. Freeman narrates the story, adding gravitas to the unsavory circumstances in the prison.

A Christmas Story

Jean Shepherd was a radio personality and commentator who wrote some very popular vignettes of his childhood. Three of those tales were turned into the classic Christmas tale about a young boy who only desires a BB gun for Christmas. Jean Shepherd’s narration seals the deal.

American Beauty

This film by director Sam Mendes features Kevin Spacey as Spence Lester, his dysfunctional family and the need to appreciate all of life’s moments. Spacey’s narration at the beginning of the film warns the audience, “You never know when it will be the last day of your life.” This sets the dark tone for a film that ends with the death of Spacey’s character.

Fight Club

This popular film offered a disturbing addition to the pop culture lexicon about the rules of fight club, the first of which is you never tell anyone about fight club. The film stars Edward Norton and Brad Pitt, but is narrated by Norton as that character tries to express what is happening to him. The quirk of the film is that Norton’s character remains nameless throughout.

A Clockwork Orange

The Stanley Kubrick classic features the narration talents of Malcolm McDowell. McDowell’s character, Alex, offers the first person perspective that draws the audience through his dystopian future. Alex is not always a likable narrative, but he evokes pity from the audience as he reveals the spiral of suffering that he has endured and participated in.

Narrator and Storyteller

Narration is a tricky technique in films. It is the function of the narrator to inhabit both the world of the tale being told and the world of the audience. The narrator is the audience’s conductor on the journey they are taking, be it funny, sad, disturbing or horrifying.

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