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Thursday, March 15, 2012

American Sensibility

In some ways, I think as an American my sensibilities have been dulled when it comes to romance in the movies. Explanation:

On Tuesday night I watched My Man Godfrey (1936). This movie is absolutely brilliant. It is wonderfully written, acted, directed - it's everything. It's full of powerful social commentary while at the same time being a ridiculous screwball comedy. It's such a strange brew of wonderful. I loved it. However, whilst watching said wonderful film, I learned something about what Hollywood has done to me.

The film ends in a brilliant way, yet I was left feeling momentarily dissatisfied - why? Because there was no ending kiss! There was no final clinch, no sweeping embrace, no nothin! And I felt dissatisfied because of it. My sensibilities have been doped by Hollywood to be beyond feeling. I need that final moment of blissful love shown to me on screen or I assume it never happens. I need to be spoon fed the "happily ever after."

This reminds me of when the new Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley came out. While the British version of the film ended with the scene just after Lizzie is given permission to marry Darcy and runs out of the house to find him, they tacked on a romantic final kiss for the American version. I mean, honestly, this makes us a bit of a laughing stock. And I will admit that, had P&P ended without that final kiss (as awkward as all of the "Mrs. Darcy"s were) I would have left dissatisfied.

Of course, this fault in my feelings was only momentary - I would like to think that as a film watcher I have learned to move beyond such shortcomings rather quickly. The romance in My Man Godfrey was subtle, yet plainly obvious, and that paradox is what makes it so everlastingly delightful. They never have to come out and say they love each other - they show it, they look it. And the romance is NOT the main point of the story! It's a seamless part of an overall tale that weaves together wonderfully. People will always look back on this movie and say it was great. People will look back on the Twilight movies and say, "what was wrong with this generation?" Hopefully they won't look back on the Twilight movies at all and they'll just watch My Man Godfrey instead.

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