I love lists like this. Other than weighing the merits of each inclusion, I enjoy analyzing the similarities in a person's choice. As a romance author, picking apart what other people think is romantic helps me structure a story that will resonate with my readers.
Inevitably when I look at these lists, I find lots of movies I haven't seen before or I end up moaning about the person's choices because I don't find them at all appealing.
So that begs the question, what is romantic? And if what we find romantic in movies and books different than what we declare romantic in real life?
To answer that question, I have constructed my own list of sigh-inducing screen moments which I shall then pick apart with as much clinical analysis as I am capable of.
I love this scene. Whenever anyone says they have compiled a list of the best movie kisses ever, I think of this one. To be honest, that's always baffled me. There isn't an epic build-up, no staring into each other's eyes after an impassioned confession of love, none of that sweet hesitation that shows how nervous and excited they are to be kissing the love of their life.
I think that's what makes it romantic to me. It just is. As soon as she says something confirming his suspicion that it's her, he kisses her. The fact that she's there, that she sought him out, tells him she cares and it's as if there is such relief in knowing she cares that all he can do is kiss her.
1995 Pride and Prejudice
My love for this story has gotten quite a bit of personal analysis lately. As I have come to realize that, as a character, I find Mr. Knightley from Emma a considerably more appealing, romantic, and lovable man than Mr. Darcy, I am left to wonder why I had such an infatuation with Mr. Darcy.
I blame Colin Firth.
That's all there is to it. His portrayal of the brooding, taciturn Mr. Darcy added the depth and appeal necessary to make him a romantic hero. As an example of what I'm talking about, I give you this scene. Darcy says not a word for the whole scene, yet the way Firth plays him makes me melt into a giddy puddle of romantic nonsense.
Ah, the grand gesture. So often in movies and TV shows, love is proven by the grand gesture, the epic sacrifice, the moment of daring risk. But what happens when the attempt at the a grand gesture fails? How is one supposed to prove their love when the girl no longer needs rescuing?
What is Romance?
What is romance then? This is by no means an exhaustive list of my favorite romantic moments, but I thought it a good cross-section.
Amazing speeches have their place and I have nothing against a grand gesture when one is warranted or possible. They make for really fun moments and are memorable parts of a couples relationship. (Think Heath Ledger's song and dance in 10 Things I Hate About You.)
But I think real romance is in the emotional pay-off. It's why the kisses we have to wait for on a television series impact us so much. (Like Ross and Rachel - Friends, Luke and Lorelei - Gilmore Girls, or Jim and Pam - The Office) Without an all powerful love to accompany it, the most incredible scene loses its romance. (Such as any episode of The Bachelor.)
But when the characters' love for each other becomes an integral part of who they are, then any scene that brings that love together becomes compelling.
Epic or Emotional?
So what do you think? Do you prefer the epic, possibly even impossible, story or a more emotional one? What is the quintessential romance to you?