Where There Were No Doors

Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before - Joseph Campbell

Monday, February 14, 2005

Movie romance

Today is Valentine's Day. The day when romantic love is celebrated.

And of course, it's so very easy to be cynical about it, and mutter something about a holiday invented by greetings card manufacturers to extort money from us by playing on our insecurities. But however true that may be; it doesn't make it any more pleasant that the only thing falling through my letterbox today will be junk mail and bills.

I am living proof that women have a tendency to choose a stable asshole over a slightly screwed up nice guy. Thankfully though, I do take it all somewhat philosophically... and despite the occasional caustic remark (such as that), I'm really not bitter at all. Which is a good thing... I'm smart enough to be a really scary psychopath if I had those kinds of leanings.

But I don't. I'm a decent human being who gets hurt instead of angry. Too much fucking empathy... that's my problem. And I'm not sure there's any way around that. As has been remarked:
The only remedy for love is to love more
- Henry David Thoreau
"Oh... you're leaving me...? but... but... you're my everything! You can't possibly go... but no... you can't go... ... ... ... oh, please don't cry... I'm sorry if I'm making this harder for you... don't cry. God no; please don't feel guilty... no that's just plain ridiculous... really, you have to do what's right for you. I know that... I'll get over this. Of course it hurts, but that's not your fault. I just love you too much is all... I'm sorry... really I'm so sorry".

It's only a little later, after she's left, that you start asking yourself - as a little dog barks it's head off in the distance - "How the hell did that end up with me apologising?!"

When someone hurts us - friend, enemy, lover or stranger - our first reaction is to hurt them back. But that's the darkness in us. And we have to resist it. Because our separation from that person is an illusion. Our common humanity unites us. And if we wish to look back on our lives as being worthwhile. As being meaningful. Then we must be able to say with honesty that we lived our lives in a way that minimised the suffering of humanity.

And that means we don't support war. It means we don't drink and drive. It means we act out of kindness whenever possible. And it means we don't lash back at those who have hurt us. Our pain is already there. We can't alleviate it by adding to it.

Or at least, I can't. You - I guess - can do whatever you want.
A human being is part of the whole, called by us 'Universe,' a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest - a kind of optical delusion of our consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation, and a foundation for inner security.
- Albert Einstein
Anyways, despite all this "being single is a massive pile of shite" talk, I thought in honour of St. Val's Day, that I'd provide a list of the greatest films ever to tackle the subject of love. The idea is lifted straight from Vile File. But rather than reproducing the public's opinion, I figure I'd dump mine on you...
  1. Casablanca. Oh c'mon! Like there's really a better one out there. It's got everything. It portrays all the important kinds of love... the romantic "true love" between Ilsa and Rick. The love of a noble ideal that Laszlo's got, and that Rick and Ilsa display through their heroic sacrifice. And the love between friends that's beautifully portrayed in the relationships between Rick and Rénault, and between Sam and Rick. Nothing else comes close. (Also; there's no film - whatever the genre - that can't be improved by a scene where Humphrey Bogart shoots a high-ranking Nazi).
  2. It's A Wonderful Life. Again, we don't see just romantic love here... though it has that in abundance. Just as with Casablanca it's got a ton of idealism inspired by the love that George Bailey has for the people in his town. And - as we see at the end - the love that they have for him. If there's not a tear in your eye at the end of this film, then you should be ashamed of yourself.
  3. Dolls. This haunting film is - in my view - the most visually beautiful film ever made. Takeshi Kitano's direction and editing (this is one of his rare films that he doesn't star in himself) are nothing short of breath-taking. The film is a meditation on love and loss. With very little dialogue, the story is told through the rich cinematography, the outstanding soundtrack and powerful performances by the central players.
  4. When Harry Met Sally. Whaddya want me to do? Lie? It's genuinely funny, and despite it being a film about wealthy good-looking Americans, it's actually possible to relate to almost all of the situations that the characters find themselves in.
  5. Roman Holiday. Audrey Hepburn. Sigh. Oh, I could write something else about this film... about how doomed romance has never been so charming and lovely. But the fact is, what a man really wants to say about this film is... Audrey Hepburn. Sigh.

3 Comments:

Blogger L said...

Ah... Roman Holiday is one of my all-time favorites, along with To Have and Have Not. Casablanca = also great.

14/2/05 04:59  
Blogger Jim Bliss said...

To Have And Have Not is indeed another classic. But there's also a sense in which it's a veiled remake of Casablanca but with Bogart "getting the girl" in the end. For that reason, I figured it wasn't worth including in a Top 5 list that already had Casablanca at the top.

Mind you, Lauren Bacall is sexier than Bergman, and her character is far more interesting than Ilsa. But overall I think Casablanca still edges it as a complete film.

14/2/05 14:06  
Blogger llew said...

What about Before Sunrise then? That'd be in my top 10 easy. A discourse on love at first sight, soul mates, with an ambiguous ending to boot.

BTW: I'd have thought many woman would have pounced at the chance just to score a name like Mrs Bliss! Fantastic.

16/2/05 02:11  

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