Love in cinema is a series discussing the meaning of love as presented in films from the last 70 years. About three weeks ago, when I started planning for this series, I thought this was going to be pretty easy. But a week ago, when I actually started writing, I thought I was mad to think I could produce a post a day (Encouragingly, my friends tends to agree) Now that I’m on the second to last film, I feel almost a little nostalgic. The past week has been a very interesting journey that saturated me with romance and love. Hopefully, you have enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed watching and writing about these films.
The Notebook (2004), Love is Crazy
The Notebook (2004) was the first film recommended to me when I asked around for good romance films three weeks ago. Before this, I have heard of this film from at least three different girls; all of whom looked like they were about to cry just discussing this film. It is then only natural that I dedicate at least one post in this series to examine this famouse film of love.
Directed by Nick Cassavetes, The Notebook is about the love story between Noah and Allie. The script is penned by Jan Sardi and Jeremy Leven (who also wrote Don Juan DeMarco) and is based on the best selling novel of the same name, authored by Nicholas Sparks. Though occasionally there are a hint too much sentimentality here and there, over all the film is an enjoyable ride filled with drama and emotion.
The Notebook starts inside a nursing home with an elderly man reading a story to an elderly woman. The story is about a 19 years old boy named Noah and a 17 years old girl named Allie. Noah is a country boy who works as a lumber jack, while Allie is a city girl from a wealthy family who is staying in their country estate for summer. Since the moment Noah sat his eyes on Allie, he fell helplessly in love with her, but Allie was uninterested at first. After much persistence on the part of Noah, Allie finally consents and a romantic relationship began developing between the two.
All was going well until Allie’s parents decided that their relationship was going too far and that it was time to take Allie back to the city. For a year, Noah wrote to Allie every single day, but Allie’s parents made sure Allie never received those letters. Eventually, their relationship seem to have ended when Allie went to college in New York and Noah was enlisted.
When Noah return from the army, he became obsessed with building the dream house he promised Allie during their teenage years. Allie, on the other hand, became engaged to a a handsome war veteran Lon. Before the wedding, Allie learns from a newspaper article about the house Noah is building and decide to pay him a visit. Their love for one another reignites after more than seven years of separation, and now Allie must choose between two man, both of whom she loves deeply and loves her deeply.
By the time I finished the film, I found myself frowning. It’s not that it wasn’t an enjoyable film. I was just worried about what I can write. Maybe because my last week has been saturated with romance films, every scene from The Notebook feels like some kind of déjà vu. Archetypal rich girl meets country boy. girl’s parents disproves the relationship. Girl goes to college. Boy goes to army. When they reunite, the boy is faced with a competing suitor.
What troubled me even further is that the love presented in this film seems to go against all my previous posts. Teenagers sneaking out for sex, grown man stealing another man’s wife, intense focus on feelings alone, and not to mention a heavy emphasis on the self; Love is not about other people, it’s not what friends hope for, what the parents expect, not even what your lover feels. All it matters is “What do (I) want?”.
“What in the world am I suppose to write?” I thought to myself. It’s all good drama designed to make people cry, and I can appreciate that, but this is whole plot is just too crazy for me. It’s madness…. madness… Madness!
That’s when it hit me. Love is madness. In fact, the whole concept of dating is really crazy if you thinking about it. Letting a person of late teen, early twenties freely choose a mate for the rest of his/her life is no less maddening than letting a two year old pick his/her college major. Not to mention the whole procedure of getting in love, getting married, and raising a family is, as a friend of mine said, “the most horrible investment one can ever make in his lifetime, materialistically speaking”. Yet everyone does it anyway.
Even when granted the normality of dating and relationships, which person who has been in love before can honestly say they’ve never done anything crazy? Some are more daring than others, but all are maddening in their own ways. From small love notes to writing grand poetry. From skipping school to flying half way across the world. From the love that waits, to the love that feels. Which one is not a little abnormal in their own ways?
How can two individuals that’s completely different ever come together and think of nothing but the other person? It’s crazy, it’s mad. But it happens, because there is love. Despite all my attempts at rationalising thing, love is not rational. In a lot of ways, love is a fantasy created by two people. For a moment, they simply suspend belief of reality. It is dramatic, It is romantic, love is madness.