Today I’d like to talk about movies. Specifically, romances. Sure, we could go on and on about favorite date movies and romances, but hold on a moment. I’m not just talking about the movies with a heart-stopping hero, witty dialogue, maybe a touch of intrigue or suspense, at least one thrilling kiss…and a happily ever after (HEA). I’d like to mention two movies on my all-time favorite list that have all those elements with one major distinction: no HEA with the characters riding into the sunset together, believe it or not. Say what???? Before you think, “She’s crazy!” and move on to something else, let me explain.
You know what it is about these two movies that make them so wonderful? The sense of honor in the heroes is so prevalent, and in the end, they do what is right for their circumstances, and ultimately, for the woman they love. They live in a completely different world from the heroine, and realistically, they’d be fighting the odds to make a relationship work long-term. They sacrifice for the greater good. And, in the heart of the viewer, you know they’re going to be all right. Do I hear a sigh? Oh wait, that was me…
But love triumphs over all, you might be saying! True, but again, in the case of these two particular movies, it makes sense that they won’t end up together, and I’m okay with that. Really! They are still soul-satisfying as love stories. Now, don’t get me started on the movies with “star crossed lovers” that drive me crazy (several of Nicholas Sparks’s movies come to mind). I won’t see one of his movies until I know the ending. Certain authors I will not read if I know there’s a tragedy or a major character is killed. I fear my fragile heart simply can’t take it. Sure, I like conflict where I might shed a tear or two, but I want to see movies and read books where I can ultimately be uplifted and swept away, and not have my heart stomped on, you know?
Don’t worry, readers. This is my promise to you: I won’t personally ever write a story where the couple doesn’t end up together. That’d be like dangling the prize and then yanking it away just as you reach for it! I find it interesting how reviewers will sometimes talk about how predictable a romance is. Well, sure it is! It’s the journey that counts, and we want to see how the hero and his heroine get from Point A to Point Z. That’s what makes a story unique! Personally, I need that HEA in the books I write as well as those I read. When I invest so much time in a book (either writing or reading), I want to know these “people” I’ve come to care about are going to ride off into the proverbial sunset together. Maybe it’s different with a movie since it’s only two hours of my time. I can be invested in the characters, but it doesn’t wound me as much if they don’t end up together. All in all, however, the journey is satisfying.
Here are those two movies. If you’ve seen them, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And be sure and check out my question at the end. Leave a comment for the opportunity to win a $10 Amazon gift card just in time for your Fourth of July holiday weekend reading!
ROMAN HOLIDAY. Starring a young Hollywood ingénue at the time, Audrey Hepburn, and one of my absolute favorite all-time leading men, Gregory Peck. She’s a runaway princess and he’s an American newspaper reporter in Rome. They meet cute and have all sorts of fun adventures around the city (I suppose it doesn’t hurt that Rome is my favorite European destination!). Eddie Albert’s along for the fun as the best friend and captures it all on camera. When she realizes duty calls and she must return to her duties, the young princess says a tearful good-bye. She’s not aware that he’s a reporter, you see. The ending scene is classic when the princess realizes what he’s done, and what he’s sacrificed…for love. For her.
WITNESS. Starring Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis. He’s a tough-as-nails, hardened Philadelphia cop named John Book, and she’s the young Amish widow. Her son, Samuel (played by Lukas Haas) witnesses a murder in the restroom of the Philly train station. The chase begins as John recognizes the identity of the murderer and what danger this child is in. Knowing he must protect the widow and her son since the “bad guys” are after this child, John travels to Lancaster County and immerses himself in the life of the Amish. I love the scene where there’s a barn raising representing the sense of close community. Likewise a tense scene near the end where a bell is pulled and the neighbors all come running to help. Harrison’s adventures in the Amish community are humorous and you see a love and respect begin to grow between this man and the soft-spoken but spirited young woman, as well as a mutual respect between John and her father. It is another story where their lives are too different, but there is a completely satisfying love story nonetheless.
How about you? Can you think of any movies where the hero and heroine don’t end up together (without one of them dying) that was still a satisfying story? Share them with me. Or sure, go ahead and share a movie you loved where they did end up together and why it’s one of your favorite movies! I’m giving a $10 Amazon gift card to the winner. Winner will be chosen on Saturday, July 2nd. Have a happy, healthy, Fourth of July celebrating the birth of our great nation!