The 95th Annual Academy Awards premiered last night, and this year was definitely one for the books. From the star studded red carpet, to host Jimmy Kimmel’s Will Smith jokes, and to the film, “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once” making a clean sweep, this Oscars kept us on our toes. With such drama, it could be difficult to pay attention to the little details in each film, but that’s exactly what we’re doing! We’re braking down the top pens in in movie history.
It’s easy to think that pens are just ordinary, household objects. I mean, they are pens, after all!
However, pens often make it onto the big screen, with many pens holding iconic places in Hollywood. Film-making is an art that often requires precision and careful thought put into all aspects of a scene, right down to the prop an actor holds in their hand — the humble yet powerful, pen.
In movies, fountain pens may represent symbols of wealth, power, knowledge, and prestige. They’re a coveted status symbol held by executives and are used to bind permanent contracts. Once something is written in pen, there’s no going back.
On the other hand, pens often can be heirlooms and have a more personal, sentimental meaning. We’ve compiled a list of our personal top pen moments in
film history! Read on to see our most memorable movie pen moments.
The King’s Speech (2010) – A Royal Pen
The King’s Speech is a beautiful biopic and historical drama that tells the story of the life of the British royal family in the years leading up to World War II. It’s an emotionally stirring film that won many awards, and it all began with the flick of a fountain pen.
As King George V’s life comes to an end, he allows his eldest son, Edward VIII, to act on his behalf. However, George doesn’t know that Edward has fallen in love and plans to abdicate the throne in order to marry her on the eve of World War II. Edward’s brother George VI, played by Colin Firth, must become king and lead the English people even though his stutter makes public speaking a difficult and humiliating experience.
The film documents his struggle in overcoming his speech impediment and his friendship with elocution specialist Lionel Logue. The film starts off with the document transferring power to Edward, signed by George V with an elegant fountain pen fit for any British royal. With the signing of the document, the movie’s plot is set into motion.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010) – Is the Pen Mightier than the Sword?
If you love Greek Mythology (or if you read its book series in middle school) you’re probably already aware of this movie and its book franchise. Percy Jackson is a modern fantasy series that spawned a movie based on the first novel, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.
The main character, Percy, finds out he’s the son of the Greek God Poseidon, and he meets many more children of gods in Camp Half-Blood, a sanctuary for the children of Greek gods and goddesses. The movie is jam-packed with figures and legends from Greek mythology — some who are allies and some who are enemies. Percy must defeat them to prove himself a hero.
Of course, no Greek hero is complete without his weapon (or writing utensil). One of the coolest parts of the movie is his pen/sword. Percy Jackson may be an Olympian, but he’s still just a student at school at the start of the story. The pen is gifted to him by a teacher called Mr. Brunner, who’s actually Chiron. The Percy Jackson sword pen isn’t any old pen— it transforms into a sword! Just before Percy leaves for his quest, Chiron gives it to him, saying that the sword has “a long and tragic past.” Chiron also shows Percy that Riptide can never be lost and will always reappear in his pocket. That alone makes the pen special — who hasn’t lost a pen or two?
The Percy Jackson pen is one of the most iconic pieces in the series. This pen is legendary in the world of the Olympians and is a quiet sign of valor for Percy Jackson.“Pen sword” probably isn’t the typical weapon you think of, but it just goes to show how an ordinary object can be remarkable in the right situation.
A Beautiful Mind (2001) – John Nash Pen Ceremony Scene
This list wouldn’t be complete without the addition of the staple American film, A Beautiful Mind. The story follows a brilliant mathematician named John Nash. Although once a renowned mathematician and of international acclaim for his work, Nash spirals into a mental illness. He spends his life struggling with schizophrenia, unable to separate hallucinations from reality. Eventually, his mental illness destroys his professional academic career.
Years later, Nash is finally recognized for the immense contribution he made to his field One of the most emotional scenes in cinema is the A Beautiful Mind pen ceremony. Here, the film displays a stirring moment of respect and growth during the John Nash ceremony, Though he has been nominated for a Nobel Prize, one co-worker is concerned that Nash will cause a scene at the ceremony should he win. As they sit in the dining hall discussing this, a fellow Princeton professor walks up and places his pen on the table, saying, “It’s good to have you here, John.”
One by one, students and professors alike step up, acknowledge him, and set their pens on the table. The A Beautiful Mind pen ceremony meaning is rooted in ideas of recognition and deep respect among Nash’s peers. This movie exemplifies the power of a pen as a symbol of prestige, and, in Nash’s case, great respect. Although this ceremony is not actually a Princeton tradition and was only invented for the film, it’s a beautifully symbolic show of respect for Nash, a great mathematical genius.
Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – “Sell Me This Pen”
“Sell me this pen!” You should recognize this line from the 2013 film, The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio acting out the true story of Jordan Belfort, a rags-to-riches stockbroker. Jordan’s story is told, from his roots as a penny stock broker selling out of a garage, to his spotlight in the high life, and his eventual fall involving crime and corruption.
The first Wolf of Wall Street pen scene comes towards the beginning of Belfort’s career when he and his friends make money selling high-risk penny stocks to the vulnerable elderly. In an effort to teach a bunch of misfits how to sell junk bonds, Belfort uses a twist-style pen to illustrate his point.
It has later been revealed that Jon Bernthal, acting as Brad Bodnick, improvised for this scene, which was originally not part of the script. At the end of the movie, when Belfort is trying to start his life over, he stands in front of a crowd gathered for a business seminar and begins offering the same challenge to the people in the front row: “Sell me this pen.”
The Wolf of Wall Street “sell me this pen” scene has become popular for its wittiness and is often referenced in marketing and advertising circles. In fact, googling “sell me this pen wolf of wall street” will give you results from many businesses analyzing how the scene relates to sales tactics. That’s because it addresses a fundamental point in sales: the way to sell something is to make the customer need it. The Wolf of Wall “sell me this pen” quote is an iconic movie scene and a mantra many companies swear by – perhaps, even our own!
Say Anything (1989) – “Give Him a Pen”
In Say Anything, Loyd (John Cusack) falls head over heels for Diane (Ione Sky), a straight-A student and a beauty way out of his league. It shocks everyone when Diane reciprocates his feelings, but the improbable couple must deal with pressure from family and friends, particularly Diane’s overly possessive father. When Diane is torn between her love for Loyd and her scholarship hundreds of miles away in England, she makes Loyd promise to write by giving him a pen. Lloyd, of course, is heartbroken and upset over the loss of the girl he was beginning to fall in love with. This led to the iconic quote from the movie, where Loyd is on the phone in the pouring rain. , “She’s gone,” he says. “ She gave me a pen. I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.”
In this scene, the pen serves two different purposes for the characters. On Diane’s part, she leaves the pen as a promise that she won’t forget Lloyd. It’s a small, but tangible symbol of her love for him. However, that doesn’t make it any more painful for Lloyd, and receiving a pen instead of Diane twists the knife and makes him feel even more heartbroken. The Say Anything pen is both a sad reminder of being apart from someone you love and a symbol of their love.
Liar Liar (1997) – “The Color of This Pen…”
If any actor has the ability to make a scene with just a pen funny, it would be Jim Carey. In Liar Liar, Carey plays the role of successful attorney Fletcher Reede. Despite his prowess in the courtroom, his dishonesty has led to his personal relationships falling apart. He often can’t make time for his son, Max. When Max makes a wish that his dad would stop lying for 24 hours, Reede realizes he can only say the truth—on the day of an incredibly important court case.
Jim Carey does what he does best in this film by delivering an energetic performance. When he realizes the dire situation he’s in, Reede rushes to his office while scathing remarks about his coworkers slip out his mouth. Once he reaches his office, he slams the door shut and tests out his new unusual handicap on a blue plastic pen. He tries over and over to say the pen is red, but no matter how hard he tries, he can only say it’s royal blue. Although the pen in this scene is more of a vehicle for Carey’s comedy, it still has an important and memorable part of the film.
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At its core, the pen is an extremely meaningful tool – it is the channel by which a person conveys their innermost emotions, groundbreaking ideas, and legally binding words. It is for these reasons that pens are so important in film. Not only are they a small item that can be sold, they could be a symbol of love, a passing of power, and even a magical sword.
We’ve only touched on a handful of movies here — what other movie moments involving pens did we miss? Feel free to leave a comment below with your favorite pen movie moments.
Pens can hold a lot of symbolism and meaning, despite being so small. Movie-makers know how to leverage this meaning to bring iconic moments to the big screen.
You can find all kinds of pens on Penfactory, from the elegant ballpoint pen George V uses to sign documents, to the simple blue pen shown in Liar Liar. Shop all types of pens on penfactory.com!