Well, love is in the air and it seems like the perfect occasion to talk about love in relation to movies. What should I talk about? Romantic comedies? Memorable love stories? I think I just know the thing: movie couples.
In my experience so far, I have never fallen in love. I don’t think I’m ready for it now, but hopefully I’ll find the one someday. I’m still pretty young, and I don’t feel like I’m experienced enough to fully understand love. However, as many people like me, we love to watch the emotion itself portrayed in movies and other stories. And as we know, love comes in various shapes and sizes. Sometimes two people have an instant connection. Sometimes they’re friends and don’t realise they’re in love until much later. Sometimes they hate each other initially, but then get to truly know each other, like in Pride and Prejudice… actually, a lot of romantic comedies tend to follow that formula too often, and I am getting a bit tired of that. But still, however it goes, it’s love we’re watching on screen.
In no particular order, here are my personal favourite romantic couples that I’ve seen on screen, the ones with the sweetest love stories, and the ones with the best chemistry. I haven’t seen every single film, so pardon me if I haven’t mentioned any other couple that you guys like. And it’s a personal list, so you might not agree with me.
Honorable mention: Harry and Sally from When Harry Met Sally…, because the film itself has the interesting issue about relationships, especially the idea to whether a man and a woman can truly be friends. It’s one of my favourite romantic comedies. I didn’t include them on the list, because I’m more in love with the movie than I am with the couple. The romance between them works pretty well on screen.
Jesse and Céline from Before Sunrise
I have not seen Before Sunset, but I don’t know if it is right to make a sequel to this film, especially since this film stands on its own so well with an ambiguous ending. Although I’ll probably take my time to watch it and make up my mind about it later.
Before Sunrise is about an American guy named Jesse, played by Ethan Hawke, and a French girl named Céline, played by Julie Delpy, who meet on a train and decide to disembark in Vienna. The entire movie follows them through the city the whole day and listening to them have conversations while they walk around the city. There’s no plot exactly: it has “indie film” written all over it. We feel like we’re hanging out with these people.
Céline is kind of a dreamer, while Jesse is an idealist posing as a cynic. They become friends immediately and find out a lot about each other despite their limited time in Vienna. At first they agree that they shouldn’t exchange numbers, with the fear that they’ll never see each other again. But in the end, they admit that they don’t want to forget this day. They did agree that they were attracted to each other, yet they never realised how much they were going to regret it. With little time to exchange numbers in front of the train, they agree to see each other again within exactly 6 months in the exact same station and platform. Their love for each other is like fate, and I root for them to get together.
Aladdin and Jasmine from Aladdin
Honourable mention to Belle and the Beast, and Ariel and Eric from the previous two Disney Renaissance movies. But to me, this is my favourite Disney couple. Not just because they stick to each other for two more movies and a TV series, but because you do believe they’re in love. The story about a pauper and a princess falling in love has been told before, but that doesn’t mean that the film is automatically bad. As long as the story and characters are good.
Aladdin is a guy with nothing and is forced to steal to get by. Jasmine has everything, but as a princess she’s also forced to live up to the standards society expects her to be. They’re opposites, but they share something in common: they’re entrapped in a lifestyle they want to break free from. I like at one point both have to disguise themselves to get what they want, but behind these disguises they love each other for exactly who they are. Aladdin doesn’t know Jasmine is a princess, but he loves her for exactly who she is, while Jasmine knows he’s poor, but she doesn’t care. And when Aladdin disguises himself as a prince, she’s able to look past the whole prince act because she sees the person she fell in love with. That’s a very honest love. Even in the animated series we see the struggle a bit in their relationship (sometimes to do with poor writing, but just in a few episodes), but still stick to each other no matter what. That’s true dedication to one another!
Jeff and Lisa from Rear Window
Jeff, played by Jimmy Stewart, is a guy who’s into adventure and danger. Jeff’s dating Lisa, played by the amazingly beautiful Grace Kelly, who’s kinda the opposite: she’s more domestic and into fashion and parties. He admits that although he loves her, she’s “too perfect” and that she’d pull him down if he were to marry her. Lisa isn’t necessarily asking him to marry her, but she wants to be sure that his love for her is genuine. So how to improve their relationship? By solving a murder mystery across the other side of the building. That’s Hitchcock’s dark humour at its best.
With Jeff confined to his wheelchair because of his broken leg, Lisa continues to support Jeff and eventually helps him in solving the mystery. I always thought that women don’t have to lose their femininity to be awesome. Lisa has woman written all over her, and at sometimes she uses her woman’s intuition to put pieces together. But does that stop her from entering inside the apartment of a possible murderer? HECK NO! She climbs up the apartment to try and find useful evidence. That takes guts! GO GIRL POWER! Jeff soon realises that this lady does have an adventurous side, and that she might not be such the domestic woman he thought she’d be. They make an awesome team on screen.
Pazu and Sheeta from Castle in the Sky
Castle in the Sky is one of Hayao Miyazaki’s earliest and best works. If Miyazaki’s great at doing anything, he’s an expert in writing female characters and children, and here’s no different. Pazu’s a young boy who finds a girl floating down from the sky, and finds out later that the military is chasing her. Her name is Sheeta and she holds a magical stone which is linked to Laputa, a floating island in the sky which used to be populated by an ancient civilisation. Pazu’s father had seen the castle, but nobody believed him and he died as a laughing stock. So Pazu attempts to find the castle for himself and prove his dad was not insane. This must have been fate that these two happened to meet.
Although this isn’t a love story, they have a lot of chemistry on screen, and a few times a romance is hinted. Pazu especially is dedicated to protecting her when he finds her fall gently from the sky and land on his palms. They don’t even share a kiss. Whether they are friends or lovers in the end is really up for anyone to decide, but that’s why it works so well. They don’t fall in love just because they’re a boy and a girl. They do form a special bond because they’re pulled into an adventure which is out of the reality they’re familiar with. Miyazaki does a fantastic job of writing genuine young characters instead of a couple first.
Shrek and Fiona from the Shrek movies
Just a quick note first: I haven’t seen Shrek Forever After, so I’ll be looking at Shrek and Fiona based on the rest of the knowledge I have on the films. Shrek is told to rescue a princess from a tower to give to someone else, but ends up falling in love with her. And Fiona, despite expecting a prince charming at first, ends up loving him back.
I’ll admit, I didn’t like so much how they forced the whole “beauty is from the inside” message in the first movie, but I liked how Fiona’s relationship with Shrek developed. Their love for each other really stood out in Shrek 2 where their love for each other was challenged, and we actually saw how far Shrek was willing to sacrifice for Fiona’s love. He was even willing to give up becoming an ogre. “I love being an oger. But I love Fiona more.” AWWWW!!! And Fiona in the end truly sees how much he loves her, and how far he’d go for her. She realises how lucky she is to have met Shrek. And that makes her decision to become an ogre again, because they now know that they’ll be happy with each other in their own terms. Human or no human, they’ll be together. How wonderful!
And last but not least…
Christian and Satine from Moulin Rouge!
Just like with Aladdin and Jasmine, their love story is a “tale as old as time”. This film is very aware of itself, which is why the love story works. The reason why they fall in love is very interesting. Christian, played by Ewan McGregor, is a hopeless romantic (like me!), so he falls in love with Satine, played by Nicole Kidman, because that’s part of his central belief. Satine is a realist, unlike Christian. Although she’s a symbol of lust, she never experienced love in a sentimental way. From all the men she’s slept with as a courtesan, she’s never had anyone declare love in such a way before. With this new experience, through Christian singing “Your Song” to her, she falls in love with him immediately. This is a very interesting take on the love-at-first-sight story.
Throughout the movie, their love is challenged by the roles they have to fulfil in real life, and the roles they’re given in the play Christian’s working on: in real life, Satine’s the prostitute who must sleep with the Duke eventually, and Christian is a penniless writer trying to write a play, yet in the play (Christian’s ideal fantasy) they’re supposed to be the princess and the pauper respectively who fall in love and in the end live happily ever after. Christian’s idea of love is challenged through the film. And Satine struggles between her love for him and her dedication to the Moulin Rouge. That is one of the most unique love stories I have ever seen put on screen! It’s all the more tragic when we’re told at the beginning that Satine dies in the end.
And there you have it! Hope you liked the list. Tell me, hat are your favourite movie couples? What do you think of this list? Any couple that you liked in particular?
Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!