Sunday, December 19, 2004

Let there be Love.

Today I'd like to talk to you about Love.
In particular, Romance.
Specifically Romance in Film.
It's in every movie. It's written to be in every movie. Because Love conquers All. But here's what I can't stand. I can't stand it when you have a film with a simple idea or even an incredibly complex-structured story and then you have the subplot of the love interest shoe-horned in. And it sticks out, it sticks out like a sore thumb. But it's still in there, in almost every movie because it's "something for the girls". Like a token gesture, almost like the token black in a sitcom.
An example of this is a film I much admired "A Few Good Men" with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. This was a film about honour and loyalty and challenging a system that had contempt for any sign of weakness and whether such measures were necessary. Now maybe it was because i disn't like Demi Moore much in it, but her character in that, to me, disturbed the flow of what was a strongly focused story. You could have dropped her character and still had a great film, perhaps even better, that remains tight. "The Caine Mutiny" as I recall, didn't need any unnecessary love interests. And one wonders whether it was necessary to throw her in to avoid the film being dismissed as "boy's stuff" and thus losing half the population of viewers.
Now lest we all start to assume that Stony is an old misanthrope shaking his fist at all the young lovers parking, let me say... I like a good Romance. A really good romantic story can give you a thrill that nothing else can give you other than being in love yourself. I remember a few years back when I was taking an English Lit. paper and we had to read "Jane Eyre". Bloody Jane Eyre? I thought, I don't wanna read that! But I did... And ended up really enjoying it. Dear dry Jane and her infatuation with the brooding but equally-smitten Rochester. The enjoyment of the novel was also compounded by the Lecturer we had for it. A rather dowdy, frumpy-looking lady of about 50 with shortish greying hair. Possible lesbian, I surmised in my mind-wandering musings during lectures (as you do). But when she talked about "Jane Eyre", she changed. She seemed to grow younger and became almost this skittish young girl. She really *loved* this book. She told us that it was not Jane she imagined Rochester falling in love with, but herself... Isn't that a lovely story?
And that's the thing about a good Romance! It's almost like a vicarious thrill where you swap yourself in place opposite the star/starlet you admire and imagine them falling in love with you. Such themes, I believe, cannot and should not be relegated to sub-plot status but deserve a movie unto their own. And more! Does anyone remember "Bram Stoker's Dracula" with Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder? The love story between Dracula and Mina not only gained prominence but plowed its way to centre-stage, no doubt dissapointing millions of Horror-fans worldwide... I liked it though.
So where does that leave us? Should we have it so all movies should try to compromise between its own themes of Good vs Bad, say and Love shall conquer All? Or will the audience be willing to sit through a film that deals strongly with its own themes while leaving all throughts of romance aside? Or, if we want to be sure of retaining that female audience, should romance be treated as like comic relief? A break in the tension? What do you think? I'd like your feedback, especially the girls out there. Do these love interest sub-plots serve a need for you? What is it you want to see?
And let me just pre-empt those "I just want a movie that tells a good story" answers. I'm not disputing that but when you have a story, especially for film, which a lot of people work on and rely on to make money, you want something that appeals to as wide an audience as possible. So what compromises are you willing to take when you go to the movies?
Talk to me.


Blogger Brian Cronin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

December 20, 2004 at 12:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is to say that Demi Moore was the love interest?

I always dug that part of that film, how she was there with[i]out[/i] them going for the obvious romance.

I like Jane Eyre, too, especially how it tells us that half white/half black people are evil and should be locked up in attics - after you use their money to fund your fortune, of course.

December 20, 2004 at 12:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all about the situation of the movie, to me.

Is the movie about, in the underlayers of the plot and structure, humanity? Then put in something that impacts humanity: Love.

Is it about the evils/good of (fill in the blank?) Then a love interest isn't necessary, unless the plot is all about a love interest.

That's all I got.

December 20, 2004 at 12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One feminist theory suggests that the reason that a love interest in films isn't because of women at all.

That romance is for the girls thing is utter poop.

If there were any women involved in the upper escelons of making these films they would know 2 things

1. Mooneyes don't work, cliche kisses don't work, for a romance plot to float any womans boat it has to have tension and it has to be developed.

If a romance plot is second or even third place of a story it doesn't get the attention it needs. If it doesn't get the attention it needs it is just waffle.
Women don't want waffle.

2. There has to be chemistry.
This one is important, the most important really.
If there is no chemistry why have a the sub plot in the first place?

This is where the feminist theory comes in

The romance plot is there for the guy.

See that hero?
He's your hero.
See that girl, the pretiest girl around?
He could have her if he wanted to.
See how she is going through all the motions?
That mean she wants him.
If that girl wants him, he must be the best.

The theory continues in much bigger language that it is the guy that wants the girl.

The girl is there for the male audience to want and lust after. This puts them on side with the hero.

Because if she was there for the female audience they would have developed love sub plots/plots to be much more satisfying.

December 20, 2004 at 1:44 PM  
Blogger Stony said...

First of all I'd like to thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts.

But sign off with your name!!!

Near as I can make it out, we had Brian Cronin, Smoogis and Cirocco respectively all dressing up as Anonymous

December 20, 2004 at 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. There are some movies where a romantic subplot is just unnecessary. And A Few Good Men is an excellent example. I've been wracking my brain to come up with another one. Unsuccessfully so far.

December 20, 2004 at 6:59 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I signed in, but you took issue with my posting style, so I reposted.

So, when you think about it, it's really all your fault.

December 21, 2004 at 1:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree. There does NOT need to be a romance story in *every* damned movie. More often than not, it ends up distracting you away from the true story. Apocolypse Now didn't need romance. Saving Private Ryan is another one. There are movies out there that don't cater to the "Romance/Sex Sells!" way of thinking that seems to have invaded Hollyweird.

Titanic is a good example, too. Why the hell Cameron thought that this needed fictional characters in a fictional (and DOOMED) romance is beyond me. If you MUST have a human interest story in it, why not tell the stories of some of the people that actually survived the sinking? I'm sure there were some poignant and touching stories there that could have been told. They might not have been *romance* stories, but at least they would have actually had something to do with the Titanic and its sinking!

Sorry. Rant mode is now off. It just *really* bugged me about that movie. The "romance" side-story made me want to puke, in case you can't tell.

Ah well... You know what I'm talking about. No need for me to preach to the choir on this one. Point is, I agree with you.


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