Film / Love in Cinema since 1940

Love in Cinema since 1940 (Part 5 of 8)

Part Five- Choice

Click Here to start reading from Part One

When a friend saw me preparing for my post yesterday, he accused me of being “obsessed”. I really don’t have anything to say against that, but is it really such a bad thing? I get to watch movies, practice my writing, learn about love as well as attract attention from girls. That can only mean good things right? Especially considering how close it is to Valentine’s day. 😉

Since I’m currently stressing over a presentation for tomorrow, I chose something a little more lighthearted to watch today. It is not nearly as reputable as other films I’ve wrote about, but there is still a say about it. So with that, I present to you today’s film, Don Juan DeMarco (1994).

Don Juan DeMarco (1994), Love is a choice.

Don Juan's first conquest

“I give women pleasure, if they desire, it is of course the greatest pleasure they will ever experience”

Don Juan DeMarco(1994) directed by Jeremy Leven is a semi-philosophical comedy romance. The film follows the story of a delusional young man(Johnny Depp) who believes himself to be Don Juan. After being rejected by the love of his life, he decides to kill himself by jumping of a large bill board (but not before masterfully perform one last conquest).

Dr. Jack Mickler

Dr. Jack Mickler

Psychiatrist Dr. Mickler (Marlon Brando) arrives in time to dissuade “Don Juan” from suicide, and took him to a mental hospital for a 10 day review. Intrigued by “Don Juan’s” condition, Dr. Mickler wanted to take him on as a patient but was refused since Dr. Mickler was supposed to be retiring soon. This is until “Don Juan” freaked out his assigned psychiatrist Bill by dancing flamenco around him, and addressing Dr. Mickler as Don Octavio DeFlores. Bill, realising Dr. Mickler has been playing along with “Don Juan’s” fantasy, gives up and tells Dr. Mickler to fix what he started.

Ironically, the sessions seemed to have benefited Dr. Mickler more than “Don Juan”. Throughout the 10 days, Dr. Mickler found himself immersed in “Don Juan’s” world of romance, and passion. As a consequence Dr. Mickler was inspired by the stories and manages to reignite the passion he have with his wife, Marilyn (Faye Dunaway).

There are only four questions of value in life. What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for? And what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same… only love.

~ ‘Don Juan’, Don Juan DeMarco

The question that has been repeatedly raised in this film is the question of identity. The mask “Don Juan” wears at first appears to be a mask to hide his real life identity. But as the film proceeds, we see that everyone is always wearing one Mask or another; the mask of a respectable doctor, the mask of a cold male nurse, the mask of an old house wife. These masks are there to hide from others and the wearer the wearer’s true nature. What the physical mask “Don Juan” wears actually allows himself to realize his true inner self.

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Don Juan and his mask

At one point, Dr. Mickler asked “What if someone told you that this is actually a psychiatric hospital, and you are a patient here, and I am your psychatrist?”

To which “Don Juan” replied “I would say that he has a rather limited and uncreative way of looking at the situation.”

It turns out that “Don Juan” was and has always been fully aware of the reality, but he chooses to see things differently. He chooses to behave differently, he chooses to live. Is this some self induced delusion? I think not. Instead, it is about the freedom of choice, the choice to see the good in life and in others, rather than the bad and pessimistic. The choice to love.

Don Juan and his tutor

Don Juan and his tutor

This resonates strongly with me because I always hated the phrase of “fall in love”. I hate it because it implies some invisible external force pulling the strings. I hate it because it implies a lack of control and a lack of purpose. Worst of all, I hate it because it implies that one day, I might “fall out of love”. If love is spontaneous then how can I be here writing about patience, and sacrifice, and responsibility?  If love comes and goes at will, how can I honestly say to a girl “I’ll love you forever”? How I can look in her eyes and vow “until death do us part”?

When I say that all my women are dazzling beauties, they object… the nose of this one is too large, the, the hips of another they are too wide perhaps, the breasts of a third, they are too small. But I see these women for how they truly are. Glorious. Radiant. Spectacular. And Perfect, because I am not limited by my eyesight.

~ ‘Don Juan’, Don Juan DeMarco

Quickening heart, butterfly in the stomach, blood rushing through the veins, legs shaking uncontrollably, powerful emotion that overwhelms the senses, is that love? Perhaps. Maybe these could be the beginning of a new love. But these feelings will not last forever. What will last forever is the conscious, sincere decision to love. Only then can there be true love, the love that chooses.

Update: For Part 6, Love is Magnificent, click here.

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