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Time Warp: All You Need Is Love

(previously posted 2/10/10)

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So, to continue my exploration of love, I’ll move on to movies. I was not nearly as appalled by the lists I found for movies as I was for books. Most of the couples/stories were not nearly as dysfunctional or problematic as the ones so highly prized in literature. Since there was not sufficient material for me to rant about, I’ve decided to just make a list of some of my favorite romantic movies and why.

Love Actually (2003)- This is just an awesome movie. Not only does it have like 80% of my favorite British actors and actresses in it, but it also shows great examples of a lot of different kinds of love. There’s unrequited love, young love, surviving life after love, love that transcends language, unconditional parental love, and love that throws off social expectation. One of my favorite story lines is the story of Liam Neeson’s character, Daniel, and his stepson, Sam. Sam’s mother just died prior to the story starting, so Daniel is trying to figure out how to raise his stepson without his wife. The development of the father-son dynamic is just adorable, especially as Daniel helps Sam navigate the perils of his first crush. My other favorite story line is the story of Colin Firth’s character, Jamie, falling in love with his beautiful Portuguese housekeeper, Aurelia, who doesn’t speak a word of English. Despite the language barrier, these two oddly matched people fall in love. The basic message of this movie that love comes in many forms, but everybody needs it in their lives.

Forrest Gump (1994)- (This one’s for you, Dad) Forrest Gump once said, “I’m not a smart man… but I know what love is.” And he did. He remained devoted to the same woman since the day he met her on the bus on the way to his first day of school. Forrest’s love for Jenny is the epitome of unconditional love. No matter how horribly she treats him, he still trusts her and his love never wavers. That love for her lasts even after she’s died from cancer, as he continues to tell her everything about his life with their son. Forrest Gump has the innocence to be able to give love to everyone who touches his life. He loves his mama. He loves his best friend, Bubba. He loves Lt. Dan. He probably even loves all of the people he tells his life’s story to. But the best love (in my humble opinion) is between him and his son, Little Forrest, because Little Forrest is the only one pure enough to accept his love without reservation.

When Harry Met Sally (1989) – “And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night.” That quote pretty much sums up the relationship between Harry Burns and Sally Albright. First they hated each other, then after not seeing each other for several years, they met and became friends. And eventually, they were so close that they didn’t know what to do without each other. I think the dynamic in this movie is fascinating. On paper, they don’t make sense. He’s this cynical, pessimistic realist and she’s the compulsive, optimistic perfectionist, but somehow, because they’ve become such good friends, it just makes sense for them to fall in love. She makes him think and he makes her have fun. What could be a better recipe for a happy relationship?

Beauty and the Beast (1991) – Sorry to disillusion you, Mom, but growing up this was probably my favorite Disney movie. I love the fact that the bookworm gets a happy ending. And, once again, unexpected love grows out of friendship. The feminist in me likes that the Beast must learn respect and consideration before he can win Belle’s heart. The romantic in me likes that in the end, she breaks the spell and they live happily every after. It is a children’s movie, but I think it is also a great example of love seeing past the physical and being about what’s inside of the person.

Sabrina (1954 and 1995) – aka The Ugly Duckling falls in love. Only it’s not who you expect. On paper, David Larrabee, is the perfect Prince Charming. He knows all of the right moves, he knows how to look at a girl just right, and he’s got heaps of money. Can I just say, BORING? His older brother, Linus, on the other hand, is much more complex and interesting. On the surface, he’s a cold-hearted bastard who only cares about making his business bigger and better. But, as is usual in these cases, he’s got a bit more to him than meets the eye. It takes a while, but eventually, both he and Sabrina see that they would be happier in their odd, more complex relationship, than they would be if she married his dopey younger brother and he kept himself locked up in suits and ties.

The Quiet Man (1952) – This movie, which could only be described as a masculine chick flick, is an odd example of love, but it works. The conflicts between old, Irish traditions about love and marriage clash with new, American views about love and marriage and a whole heap of fun ensues. At some points, it’s hard to tell if Mary Kate (Maureen O’Hara) actually loves Sean (John Wayne), but in the end, she does. Theirs is a stubborn love, but its true and that becomes evident when, even after being dragged through town and field, Mark Kate still kisses her husband and goes home to make him dinner. Sexist, but still, a great ending to a really, really funny scene.

The Princess Bride (1987) – “And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva…” Sorry, had to be done. Despite the fact that Buttercup is a complete moron, I love this movie. It is wonderfully silly and highly entertaining, plus it does tell the story of a love that (in theory) is quite epic. Westley goes through such an insane ordeal, all so he can keep his word and return to the woman he loves (although I don’t know why). Along with this typical love story, there’s also the great relationship between Fezzick and Inigo and the love that the grandfather feels for his grandson.

Pretty Woman (1990) – This is one of the first full-fledged chick-flicks I remember seeing. Somehow, outrageous hooker Vivian works her way past detached, reserved Edward’s defenses and her own and they fall in love. It’s a fairly standard Pygmalion-esque story, but I still love it. Especially the fire escape scene at the end. Classic!

The Holiday (2006) – I didn’t expect to like this movie, but I love it. It is one of the only Jack Black movies I can actually tolerate. But more than that, it presents two really sweet romances. Jack Black’s character Miles shows Iris, played charmingly by Kate Winslet, how to break out of her shell and become a strong, independent woman, with the help of old-school screenwriter, Arthur. On the other side of the world, the too-independent Amanda falls in love with Graham and his daughters, despite herself. She has to learn to trust and to listen to her feelings. On top of that, the interaction between Jude Law’s character Graham and his daughters is precious!

The Phantom of the Opera (2004) – Ok, all in all, kind of a tragic story. But, at the same time there’s a very sweet element to Erik’s love for Christine. I mean, I totally get why she chooses Raoul over Erik, but at the same time, I can also see just how much love Erik has for Christine. He craves affection and wants so badly to spend forever with Christine, but it’s an impossible love. He is too corrupt and too removed from society to be able to temper his feelings and carry on any sort of real relationship, and in the end, he realizes this. But, he continues to love her until long after she’s gone.

What romantic movies would make your list and why?

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