Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Love Stories Beyond the Chase?

“Happily ever after” used to signal the end of every love story. The traditional, popular romance is almost always about the beginning. The chase. We love the tale about discovery, the longing and the wish fulfillment of a new relationship. And, for-nearly-ever, we have always implied, assumed and just known that a real romantic tale is just the beginning of a lifetime. That was always the point, but one that not many really thought about.

We don’t even bother anymore. We don’t end these stories with “ever after.” We don’t seem to care if that is the outcome. In fact, those who claim the romance genre has become emotional porn would say that our culture doesn’t really even want that anyway. We want all our stories to be about beginnings; a long chain of adventurous beginnings that don’t really make it past the first challenge. And if you think about it, love is about overcoming challenges.

These thoughts were spurred (perhaps surprisingly) as the soundtrack to “Moulin Rouge” came up on my iPod the other day. At its heart, the film is about this distinction—the world’s view of love (sex, performance, and enticement) versus the real meaning of the word (self-sacrifice, commitment, putting another first) and I’ve talked more about that before.

Where are the stories of lifetime love? Anybody have some suggestions. The opening of “Up” springs to mind. What else is out there?


  1. Up, of course. Then I was thinking of the little "scenes" of couples interspersed throughout When Harry Met Sally. And for your "the real meaning of the word (self-sacrifice, commitment, putting another first)", I still think The Painted Veil is phenomenal...even though all my children HATED it. :-)

  2. Well, don't throw me in with the haters! I have not gotten around to watching it yet. [Sheepish grin]

  3. The only one that springs to mind is The Story of Us, if that qualifies. It begins with the relationship already established (and nearly failed), but it does include a few flashbacks as well, and of course the point is about staying together.

    Then there are all those family sitcoms, but again they usually center on people either already married, or who never do work things out until the series finale. I was going to suggest those long-running television dramas (or soap operas), which often allow couples to get together, but they rarely STAY together long-term, so it's not much of a comparison.

    It really is amazing how rarely anyone even attempts to tell such a life-long love story, which is maybe why the opening to UP was so moving.

    I guess it is also true of how faith is sometimes portrayed in the church: The "testimony" genre often treats our acceptance of Christ as the end of the story, when it ought to be the beginning.

  4. I thought of two: A Beautiful Mind and The Notebook, though I don't really like the latter. I'm sure there are others, even if they break the mold of the typical love story.

  5. Haven't seen "The Story of Us" or "The Notebook" but you are right with "Beautiful Mind." It sort of gets lost in all the madness but it is also what makes the ending so moving.

  6. The Notebook is typical Nicholas Sparks. The Story of Us is well worth seeing though.


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