When I was a teenager, my Saturday afternoon trip to the cinema was the highlight of my week. I would go with my father and my sister, and we’d watch the latest Hollywood spectacular. I loved being swept away in the great romances playing out on screen. Those first films I watched were fodder for my fertile imagination, and still, when I watch the movies of my teens now, I lose myself in the wonderfully passionate, epic love stories.
These days, I don’t visit the cinema often, but I still love to curl up and watch a movie on the television. Books, of course, are my number one choice for romantic escapism, but movies come a close second, because the staging and the characterisation and the settings and the music – everything adds up to such a powerful, cathartic experience.
This week, I’ve been collating some of my favourite romantic movie lines. I’m sharing 25 of my favourites here, and Tweeting them through the week as well. Enjoy!
- You stay alive, no matter what occurs!… No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you. Last of the Mohicans
- It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together … and I knew it. I knew it the very first time I touched her. It was like coming home. .. only to no home I’d ever known … I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew. It was like … magic. Sleepless in Seattle
- It seems right now that all I’ve ever done in my life is making my way here to you. The Bridges of Madison County
- If there’s any kind of magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something. Before Sunrise
- Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world I feel like I can’t take it, like my heart’s going to cave in. American Beauty
- I would rather have had one breath of her hair, one kiss from her mouth, one touch of her hand, than eternity without it. City of Angels
- I love that you get cold when it’s 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle in your nose when you’re looking at me like I’m nuts. I love that after I spend day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely, and it’s not because it’s New Year’s Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible. When Harry Met Sally
- No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how. Gone With the Wind
- Kiss me. Kiss me as if it were the last time. Casablanca
- You made me a man by loving me, Holly. And for that, I am eternally grateful… literally. If you can promise me anything, promise me that whenever you’re sad, or unsure, or you lose complete faith, that you’ll try to see yourself through my eyes. Thank you for the honor of being my wife. I’m a man with no regrets. How lucky am I? You made my life, Holly. But I’m just one chapter in yours. There’ll be more. I promise. So here it comes, the big one. Don’t be afraid to fall in love again. Watch out for that signal, when life as you know it ends. P.S. I will always love you. PS I Love You
- Me? I’m scared of everything. I’m scared of what I saw, I’m scared of what I did, of who I am, and most of all I’m scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I’m with you. Dirty Dancing
- The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return. Moulin Rouge
- Longing. Longing for a wave of love that would stir in me. That’s what makes me clumsy. The absence of pleasure. Desire for love. Desire to love. Wings of Desire
- 14. You make me want to be a better man. As Good As It Gets
- I promise I’ll come back for you. I promise I’ll never leave you. The English Patient
- I love you. I’ve loved you since the first moment I saw you. I guess maybe I’ve even loved you before I saw you. A Place in the Sun
- Don’t forget I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her. Notting Hill
- You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on. Pride and Prejudice
- You had me at hello. Jerry Maguire
- I vow no matter what challenges might carry us apart that we will always find a way back to each other. The Vow
- There are only four questions of value in life: What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for? And what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love. Don Juan De Marco
- So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard. We’re gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, for ever, you and me, every day. Will you do something for me, please? Just picture your life for me? 30 years from now, 40 years from now? What’s it look like? If it’s with him, go. Go! I lost you once, I think I can do it again. If I thought that’s what you really wanted. But don’t you take the easy way out. The Notebook
- Ehm, look. Sorry, sorry. I just, ehm, well, this is a very stupid question and… particularly in view of our recent shopping excursion, but I just wondered, by any chance, ehm, eh, I mean obviously not because I guess I’ve only slept with 9 people, but-but I-I just wondered… ehh. I really feel, ehh, in short, to recap it slightly in a clearer version, eh, the words of David Cassidy in fact, eh, while he was still with the Partridge family, eh, “I think I love you,” and eh, I… I just wondered by any chance you wouldn’t like to… Eh… Eh… No, no, no of course not… I’m an idiot, he’s not… Excellent, excellent, fantastic, eh, I was gonna say lovely to see you, sorry to disturb… Better get on… Four Weddings and a Funeral
- Listen to me, mister. You’re my knight in shining armor. Don’t forget it. On Golden Pond
- Winning that ticket, Rose, was the best thing that ever happened to me… it brought me to you … You must do me this honor, Rose. Promise me you’ll survive. That you won’t give up, no matter what happens, no matter how hopeless. Promise me now, Rose, and never let go of that promise. Titanic
So there you have them – 25 of the seminal lines in movies that make me melt. Which lines would you add to the list?
In addition, if you love romance movies, take a look at this news item: ‘Watch Love Actually to heal a broken heart and Mamma Mia to end a midlife crisis: New movie timeline chronicles our lives in film’. A survey by Universal Pictures has found that the film most likely to inspire a person to find love is Love Actually, and that the ‘biggest celebrity crush moment for women’ is Colin Firth as Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice – no surprise there!
If a film adaptation is released of a book I enjoyed, I will generally try to watch it. But it is always a risky endeavour.
The movie may encapsulate the spirit of the book beautifully: the setting may inspire you; the characters may be the perfect fit and have wonderful chemistry; the interpretation of the story may be, in your view, just right. But there is also the danger that the film will fall short.
When I read a book, in my mind pictures form of the places and the people, and I become quite attached to these. If I watch a film and find the director’s vision of the story differs wildly from my own, that can be really rather unsettling. Worst still is when the script writers hack away at the story in the book, removing elements that I found to be essential to the development of the plot and adding in extra bits (which always feels somewhat sacrilegious to me).
In many ways, the cinematic experience would be less fraught if I were to watch the film before reading the book – then the book adds in new dimensions, rather than the film stripping or twisting the narrative. But for me, this never quite fits. When I read a book, I want to be immersed in the story world, and part of the pleasure of the act is that I can use my own imagination to picture a scene. If I have already seen the scene on the big screen, then I struggle to displace that image with one of my own making.
For example, before the films were released, I wonder what pictures were in your head when you read Twilight or Harry Potter. Whatever they were, I am sure the might of Hollywood branding has washed away those images and replaced them with film sets and locations and the actors now associated with the key roles.
What do you think? Do you also prefer to read a book before watching the film? Have you ever been frustrated by an adaptation – or, conversely, pleasantly surprised? Have you discovered books that you love through having watched them at the cinema? Which comes first in an ideal world: book or film? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Singing in the Rain, Les Misèrables, Guys and Dolls, Cats, My Fair Lady, Cabaret, West Side Story, Chicago, The King and I, Anything Goes, The Phantom of the Opera… Musicals: you either love them, or you hate them. And I think most dreamers and romantics, like myself, are firmly in the former camp.
I love, love the expressionism in a musical. Everything is bigger, brighter, more vivid, more colourful: the settings, the costumes, the lighting, the audio, the movements. Music and dance have such power to convey emotion, and in the musical every feeling is heightened through such mediums:
When a character falls in love, we feel it. Think of ‘Tonight’ in West Side Story and ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ in Grease.
When a character is joyous, we feel it. Think ‘If I Were a Bell’ in Guys and Dolls and ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ in My Fair Lady.
When a character is sad, we feel it. Think of Joseph’s ‘Close Every Door to Me’ and ‘Where Is Love’ in Oliver.
When a character dies, oh how we feel it! Think of ‘A Little Fall of Rain’ in Les Mis and ‘Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again’ in Phantom.
Everything that draws me to reading and writing romance novels is there in a musical. Of course, they push the boundaries further into fiction than a simple romance film or play, but there is something wonderfully escapist about that.
When I was young, I loved the classic Hollywood musicals, and I think the depth of the feeling between characters in these productions inspired me in my writing. One my favourite reviews of Burning Embers is ‘romance like Hollywood used to make’. My characters don’t break into song and dance routines, but I hope that they sweep my readers away in the same vein as a musical.
It has been a delight, in recent years, to see Hollywood resurrect the medium of the musical, and indeed it is a genre that has been gaining critical recognition, with BAFTAS and Golden Globes and Oscars for the recent Les Mis. I was so pleased to see the artistic effort that went into the film, and its unashamed pursuit of being a big-screen epic. Perhaps this will be the film that finally earns the musical much-deserved respect as a worthy and influential art form.
Recently, I read an interview with Patricia Kelly, wife of that classic Golden Age musical actor Gene Kelly. She pointed out that filmmakers today are reticent about making musicals because of the cost:
“When Gene was at MGM he was working with an extraordinary repertory company that would make several films a year. They had the greatest composers, arrangers, actors, dancers, costume makers, cinematographers – everybody was at hand. To pull that kind of talent together now is prohibitively expensive in today’s Hollywood terms. Studios don’t want to risk that, instead they’ll make big action movies and make millions of dollars.
Gene kept waiting for the next guy to come over the hill; he was somebody who looked to the new generations. Of the people who could sing, dance and act, such as Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, Hollywood seems to have made them and then broken the mould. Hollywood needs to cultivate that talent again.” (Source)
I so hope they do, because I for one think the world would be a better place were the cinemas showing more musicals and fewer violent, dark films.
I will leave you today with the iconic scene in the musical genre, ‘Singing in the Rain’ from the musical of that name, which was named the best musical of all time by the American Film Institute. It is one of my favourite uplifting songs from the musicals (well, living part of the year in England, I do have to find some means to smile through the rain!). Amazing to think that Gene Kelly shot this scene with a temperature of 103 – he utterly defies the concept of man flu, don’t you think?
There is something magical about a musical. Music has such power to create a reaction, and done well, I think a musical form of a romance can really heighten the connection to the characters and the emotional charge of the story.
I am a very visual writer, and when I write I often picture scenes as they are in reality – or on the big screen of the Hollywood Golden Era, or the stage. I imagine that a musical version of Burning Embers would have a wonderful mix of music, from the thrumming drum beats and chants of the native music, to the exotic, sensual tones of the music to which people dance at Rafe’s nightclub, to touching and stirring ballads sung by Rafe and Coral.
If, like me, you love to be swept away in high romance, then I’m sure you will enjoy the following musicals, either on stage or in film format. For me, the old ones are the best – but with a new adaptation of Les Misèrables due out in January featuring the very dashing High Jackman and Russell Crowe, I may well be convinced otherwise…
- The Phantom of the Opera: Live is best, I think, but the 1994 film was wonderfully atmospheric and dramatic, and Gerard Butler made for a smouldering phantom.
- West Side Story: A modern-day Romeo and Juliet. Wonderful dancing and fabulous songs (‘Somewhere’ is beautiful), but you’ll need nerves of steel to cope with the ending.
- Guys and Dolls: A light-hearted romance with a good deal of poignancy. I love the 1955 screen adaptation featuring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine.
- Moulin Rouge: ‘Come What May’ gives me shivers, and the story itself has the key element of high romance: girl and boy from different worlds fall in love and try to beat the odds to be together.
- My Fair Lady: A classic, and the song ‘I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face’ never fails to create that warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
- Singin’ in the Rain: The chemistry between Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds makes for a magical romance.
- Funny Face: Who can resist Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire, and a score by the Gershwins? Quite simply, s’wonderful.
- The King and I: Rogers and Hammerstein at their finest; ‘We Kiss in the Shadow’ makes me melt.
- The Sound of Music: Who can fail to be charmed by this simple story of love, set against the backdrop of danger and intrigue?
- Gigi: I’ve a soft spot for this musical, I think because of its Parisian setting. It’s most famous for the song ‘Thank Heaven for Little Girls’, but there’s a good deal of romance here too.
What do you think? Which musicals would you add to the list? What’s the one musical you’d go to for a special evening with your loved one?
If you’re looking for a heart-warming, moving, feel-good and inspirational film, this is one for you.
I first became aware of the film having read the book on which it is based – We Bought a Zoo by Benjamin Mee. (I much prefer to have read the book before seeing the film adaptation, so I am pleased it worked this way round.) I found the book fascinating, and immensely touching. Here is the blurb:
An amazing true story that has inspired the major Hollywood motion picture this Christmas, to be repackaged for release alongside the film. We Bought a Zoo is about one young family, a broken down zoo, and the wild animals that changed their lives forever. When Ben [played by Damon] and his wife Katherine [played by Johansson] sold their small flat in Primrose Hill, upped sticks with their children and invested their savings into a dilapidated zoo on the edge of Dartmoor, they were prepared for a challenge and a momentous change in all their lives. With over 200 exotic animals to care for – including an African lion, a wolf pack, a Brazilian tapir and a jaguar – Ben’s hands, and those of his wife, children and tiny team of keepers, were full.
What they weren’t prepared for was Katherine’s devastating second brain cancer diagnosis. Ben found himself juggling the daunting responsibilities of managing the park’s staff and finances, while holding the bailiffs at bay and caring for his wife.
A moving and entertaining story of courage and a family’s attempts to rebuild a zoo, and carry on after Katherine’s tragic death.
I so admire the family’s courage and spirit in rescuing this zoo, and when I visited the zoo myself, I found it to be a wonderfully warm and friendly place, tucked away down winding lanes amid woods, where you can get really close to some beautiful creatures.
The film adaptation of the book is Americanised – with Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson in the starring roles, and Dartmoor Zoological Park becoming ‘Rosemoor Wildlife Park’ set in California. But the heart of the story remains in essence the same, at once stirring and uplifting and inspirational, and also the kind of movie that requires a box of tissues within reach.
For me, the animals are the highlight of the movie. When I wrote Burning Embers, I so enjoyed thinking back to my time in Kenya and weaving a tale with the backdrop of the wonderful creatures that are native to that land. And in this film, I was drawn to the animals of the zoo, and the sense that they, along with the family, were the centre of the drama – the raison d’être of the piece.
I think what is most wonderful about this film is that it raises awareness of Dartmoor Zoological Park and its history, and in doing so hopefully encourages more people to visit and to support the Mee family and the animals they care for. What a wonderful testament to the hard work and bravery of a very special family.