Love in the Genres Part 2-Love Lost and Found
The most moving of all love stories involve conflict, tragedy and/or angst. It is not enough that our heroes and heroines fall in love; they have to suffer for it, lose it, and then find it again to make a story satisfying for their audience. We want to see them happy and sad, joyful and in tears; we want to experience their love with them through a full gamut of emotions. Are we living vicariously through our favorite fictional characters? Probably. Do we feel the least bit guilty? Definitely not.
Perhaps one of the most unlikely pairings in the history of movies was of two children who fell in love in one instant, and in the next were separated. The girl left her entire world behind and came to find the boy when they both grew up. In Splash, Allen and Madison were meant to be together; never mind that Allen was a human who was afraid of the water since his near-drowning, and that Madison was actually a mermaid. Allen predictably freaked when he learned the truth, but in the end was ready to risk everything for the woman who held his heart. He rescued her from being a science experiment, and then cast off his fear of the water and followed Madison to a happily ever after.
The center of the original Star Wars trilogy developed the love story of Princess Leia and Han Solo, who were just on the verge of realizing their feelings for one another when they were captured on Bespin. Darth Vader’s cruel order to send Han into suspended animation finally prompted Leia to admit what was in her heart. Han’s iconic answer, “I know” was either an example of his general cocky attitude or acknowledgement of a sentiment he was not ready to share, depending on who you asked. Either way, we had to wait until the third movie and Han to be unfrozen for the couple to be reunited. Han’s near death changed him for the better, and led him to put Leia’s feelings above his own, even if that meant she preferred Luke. Of course, that’s not how the story ended, but his willingness to sacrifice made the difference in their relationship.
The first time I saw The Princess Bride I was still in high school. I loved everything about it, but most of all I loved the onscreen romance between Wesley and Buttercup. Wesley was the perfect romantic hero-strong, brave, and completely devoted to his lady love. Every teenaged girl wanted to be Buttercup, or at least have someone half so in love with her. Then, Wesley’s ship was attacked by pirates, and Buttercup was devastated. We no longer envied her, but we felt her loss as if it were her own. When Buttercup was forced to marry the cruel prince, but was kidnapped by a pirate, we didn’t know quite how to feel, until the pirate turned out to be Wesley in disguise. He explained everything to Buttercup with a simple “Death cannot stop true love; it can only delay it a little.” Oh, to have that kind of devotion!
While we shamelessly and with rapt attention watch our favorite fictional characters suffer for romance, who among us wants to experience that sort of upheaval in our own lives? It is one thing to see it on the screen or read it in a book, but quite another entity entirely to experience it for ourselves. May all those out there find nothing but perfect romance on this day dedicated to love, without the accompanying trials of angst, loss and emotional baggage.
Happy Valentine’s Day!