“Love” conquers hearts and money

By Kelli Weston

 

credit to allyouneedlists.com

In perhaps one of the most iconic love scenesof all time, a stringy-haired Kate Winslet descends to safety in a lifeboat while her fiance, Billy Zane before he was bald, and her lover, Leonardo DiCaprio before he got chubby in the face, look on from aboard the ill-fated RMS Titanic. Then, the unthinkable happens: She jumps back aboard the ship that is hours from sinking beneath the freezing ocean. She pushes through the crowds of people, scurrying frantically for security, while she runs headfirst away from it. At last she meets Leonardo DiCaprio in the ballroom,and they collide in a desperate embrace.

“Rose! You’re so stupid. Why did you do that, huh? You’re so stupid, Rose. Why did you do that? Why?” he screams. And I’m thinking, “Yeah, Rose. Why did you do that? That is stupid.”

She replies breathlessly, “You jump, I jump, right?”

“Right,” he sighs, kissing her.

How cheesy. I don’t know anybody in her right mind who would choose freezing death in the middle of nowhere just to hold hands with Leonardo DiCaprio. Yet even today this scene still inspires an “Awww” from me.

 “Titanic” was one of the first non-animated films I watched and my introduction to the romance genre. My mom didn’t want me watching it because of the sex scenes. She should have

been more worried about the unrealistic expectations of love presented..

Just a decade before the mind boggling “Twilight”-craze,  girls paid money to see something that was actually worth watching. In 1997, comma “Titanic”shattered box office records, comma grossing more than $ 1.8  billion worldwide.

By the time “Titanic” aired on HBO, I was 8 years old and excited out of my mind because I, too, had fallen under the spell of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” Please forgive my taste at such a naïve age. Needless to say, I enjoyed every minute of the film, comma and I still do today. The running time is more than three hours, but I will sit there if only for that tender ending.

However, now that I’m 21, I wonder about the messages “Titanic” and films like it send to women, but particularly girls, about love. I have never been in love, and I wonder if the unrealistic expectations these films set has anything to do with that. There are plenty of arguments that claim media (films and television in particular) can influence viewers, and not for the better.

Several critics (myself included) condemn “Twilight” for setting unrealistic, if not unhealthy standards, for romantic relationships. Yet young girls seem to eat up the books and the films (which broke midnight- show records), comma which center around a young girl so obsessed with her vampire lover that she engages in suicidal activity just to get his attention. Consequently, what of its precursor, “Titanic”—which, despite being better-filmed, better-acted, and just overall better—still spouts the same themes of overpowering, all-conquering, love?

I can’t speak for anybody else, but escapism has always been the attraction for me when it comes to movies in general. Movie love is often far less messy than real love. I’ve seen my share of friends and relatives through unscripted, unpredictable relationships, and it’s not nearly as fun to watch. There’s also something poetic and endearing about someone willing to risk his or her life for another in the movies that translates as creepy and borderline pyschotic in real life.

I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, but romantic films, comedies especially, have always been popular with movie-going audiences. “Titanic” has been followed by an influx of films about women desperate to find this “epic love” in their real lives, like the “Sex & the City” franchise and “The Ugly Truth.” The popularity of these films seems to suggest that love not only captures hearts but money as a consequence.

I wouldn’t go so far as to blame divorce rates on films, but it does make me wonder

what is it about seeing people desperately in love that is so engaging.

I can only speak for myself. At 21, I know that Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt-Bukater are anything but the epitome of true love. Film is obviously heightened reality. What makes a film truly timeless is its ability to touch people at any time in their life, and its ability to speak to some universal theme of life.

At the end of the film, Jack, Rose and the surviving passengers are thrown into the ocean. Jack finds a wooden board, which he and Rose try to share, but the board begins to sink under their weight. It can only hold so much body weight, so Jack gives it to Rose while he stays in the freezing water.

Whether Jack and Rose’s romance qualifies as love or not, I suppose the truth of all this is that when you can put somebody else before yourself that’s the definition of true love.

Best Scene of All Time

You grow older, but Animated Musicals don’t

By Kelli Weston

I hate warm, furry, cuddly animals unless they are singing and talking on screen.

It may or may not be a coincidence that all my favorite animated films involve talking creatures, from “The Fox and the Hound” to the more recent “The Princess and the Frog.” Animals just seem so much nicer when they can talk, and more importantly sing, and, of course, when razor sharp teeth or rabies is not an imminent threat.

The Beginning

My mother raised me on animated movies—not just Disney, but Dreamworks, Twentieth Century Fox and MGM Animation.

At five-years-old I clung to Mama’s hand, pulling her along excitedly into the Carolina Coliseum where “Beauty and the Beast” (1991) was being performed on ice. With delight I cried out all the characters’ names—“Look, there’s Lumiere! And Cogsworth! Look, Mama, there’s Belle! Do you see her?” When I wasn’t yelling or pointing or bouncing out of my seat singing along, I was watching, wide-eyed and enraptured.

 Thanks to my mother, Disney’s merchandise sales soared through the roof. Still five-years-old, when my bedroom got too big, I crawled into my very own “Beauty and the Beast” themed tent. Long after Mama called for “Lights out!” I remained in my tent with a “Beauty and the Beast” flashlight (which lit up when you twirled it) to aid me while I read. At night, I slept soundly on “The Little Mermaid” themed bedspread. That same year “Pocahontas” was released. I dragged my mother to Wal-Mart to buy me the Pocahontas Barbie doll, which I added to a collection that already contained Belle and Ariel (“The Little Mermaid,” 1989), and would be joined the next year by Esmeralda (“The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” 1996).

I have absolutely no idea where any of those things are today. All that remains is the nostalgia. These films were my initiation into the movie experience and the catharsis that usually accompanies it. Before I was old enough to understand adult problems, I learned all I thought I needed to know from singing animals and their sometimes human companions.

More than occasionally, I return to these movies, and the pleasanter side of the child in me bursts through.

First Cry

I would never go near a fox. Never. But in Disney’s “The Fox and the Hound” Todd’s big, bright, unsuspecting eyes are enough to make me reach through the screen and wrap my arms around him. This compulsion is never stronger than in the scene where Widow Tweed sings somberly, “I remember how we used to play! I recall those rainy days. The fire’s glow that kept us warm, and now I find we’re both alone.”

As a child, I had watched the film so much, I could—and did—say each of the characters’ lines at the same time, in the same rhythm. I never make it past “Goodbye May Seem Forever” though. At five-years-old, I had never had a pet or experienced true loss; yet somehow, I could feel the pain of the characters on screen. The song is backed by so much emotion that even being hardly more than a toddler, perhaps it spoke to some deeper, human part of me. Whatever the case, I cried my little heart out.

“The Fox and the Hound” covers themes of friendship, betrayal and mirrors something akin to racism when natural enemies, fox Todd and hound Copper, become best friends. That friendship is soon threatened by Amos, who insists on making Copper a “good huntin’ dog.”

 Big Mama (voiced by the legendary Pearl Bailey) sings, “They can’t understand the magic of your wonderland. When you’re the best of friends, sharing all that you discover, when that moment has past, will that friendship last? Who can say? There’s a way. Oh, I hope, I hope it never ends. ‘Cause you’re the best of friends.”

This was my second favorite song of the movie. When I was little it never made me cry, but it always chokes me up nowadays, particularly in light of one of the final scenes. Todd has saved Copper and Amos from a huge black bear, but Amos is bent on revenge. Copper must stand over Todd in order to keep his master from shooting Todd. Amos finally lowers his gun, and he and Copper head home. But not before what is perhaps the best (in my humble opinion) scene ever drawn in an animated film takes place. Right before they leave, Copper looks back at Todd one last time, and they share an understanding smile. True friendship never dies.

First Heroine After My Own Heart

“Look there she goes the girl is so peculiar. I wonder if she’s feeling well. With a dreamy, far off look, and her nose stuck in a book, very different from the rest of us is Belle,” sing the villagers in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

The first Disney heroine I ever truly identified with was Belle. Don’t get me wrong: I love Jasmine (“Aladdin,” 1992), and I love Tiana (“The Princess and the Frog,” 2009), but Belle got to me first.

With her I found an affinity as the “weird” kid who, when everybody else was swinging from jungle gyms, was sitting on the outskirts with my head buried in a book. She also completely summed up my love of books and film alike when she sang, “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere! I want it more than I can tell!” I didn’t realize it until I got older and could trace my love of stories to the same escapism she expressed.

I memorized the song “Belle” (as well as all the conversation in between), and I still sing my favorite part in my head sometimes. “Oh, isn’t this amazing? It’s my favorite part because you’ll see here’s where she meets Prince Charming. But she won’t discover that it’s him ‘til Chapter Three!” I also remember being ticked off at the sheep who desecrated her new book.

I have felt that way about many a book and many a film. I can read a novel or watch a film repeatedly, and still feel the same anticipation I felt the first time I saw or read it. I wasn’t always so proud about “dorking out” when it came to stories. I suppose in a way this film taught me not to be ashamed of that.

Second Cry

While “All Dogs Go to Heaven” (1989) did not elicit my first cry during a movie, I certainly remember tearing up in my bedroom, singing along in that “Beauty and the Beast” tent of mine.

 “All I have is a picture in my mind how it would be, if we were together,” sings Anne Marie, the Louisianan waif who finds solace in two cons who are dogs named Charlie and Itchy.

I am deathly afraid of dogs in general. I made the mistake of coming home right around the time my neighbor was taking his nine foot tall pet out for a walk. I jumped on the hood of my car when I saw them coming for me.

Top Five Embarassing Moments of my life aside, I would love to have had Charlie and Itchy for canine companions. There are good hearts underneath their mounds of fur and constant scheming.

My absolute favorite part of the entire movie is when Anne Marie sings about her yearning to belong to a family in the song “Soon You’ll Come Home.”

“Let’s pretend that you’re far away. Let’s say you write to me, and you promise in your letter that you’ll come home, come home to my heart. When you come home, we’ll never be apart. If I keep dreaming of you, start believing it’s true, soon you’ll come home, soon you’ll come home, soon you’ll come home to my heart.”

I was lucky enough to come from a close-knit family. At six-years-old, I could imagine not having that security and thus sympathize with a child who never knew what it was to belong.

Final Say

These film experiences have stayed with me this long; no doubt they’ll stay with me forever. It may be nostalgia for childhood, a time of innocence when I had little if any anxieties. It may also be a testament to the timelessness of these particular films, which cover such deeply human themes like friendship and longing to belong. Regardless, they certainly laid the foundation for my love of film.