The English Patient (1996): “Cathedral paintings”
One of the most romantic scenes in cinema. Hana (Juliette Binoche), a vibrant and capable nurse who takes care of the titular patient played by Ralph Fiennes. One day, when she is playing the piano in the bombed out shell of a building, Kip (Naveen Andrews), a lieutenant and bomb defuser in the British army, runs to her and tells her to stop playing. There might be a bomb in the piano, he warns her, and sure enough, there is one just inches away from being detonated. “I’ll probably marry him,” she later tells her patient. “Really? That’s sudden,” he quips. She answers, “My mother always told me I would summon my husband by playing the piano.”
Not long after came this scene, full of kindness and lightness, as Kip gives this gift to Hana of a little grace and beauty during wartime.
Before Sunrise (1995): “The space in between”
Thoughts about love and relationships, dilemmas about ambition and family. Celine (Julie Delpy) feeling torn about wanting to be an independent, strong woman and being loved and cared for, and Jesse’s (Ethan Hawke) urge to be successful versus having a nice relationship, which to him means a dull, and somewhat unfulfilled life. Then Celine gets to the emotional truth of it. We do need other people. We do need to live for other people.
We are relating, and all the magic is in that: “If there’s any kind of God, it wouldn’t be in any of us, not you or me, but just this little space in between.”
In the Mood for Love (2000): “Corridor glance”
This is a story of yearning and unrequited love, and this is where it begins.
The movie is set in Hong Kong in 1962, and the audience is treated to the cheongsams worn by Su Lizhen (Maggie Cheung) and the suits worn by Chow Mowan (Tony Leung). The lighting, the food, the music, all add up to a sensual movie the likes of which cinema, in the U.S. or in Asia, just does not make anymore, and probably cannot produce again for a long time to come.
Cheung and Leung would play lovers again in “Hero” (2003), and in “2046,” the 2007 “sequel” to this movie, when Cheung would make an appearance again as Su Lizhen in Leung’s delirious reminiscences of his loves and his life. In this movie though, their love and sensuality were the most innocent.
Gone with the Wind (1939): “You need kissing badly”
This is the scene that reminds the audience why Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) is the match for Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh). “You need kissing badly.” Yes, Rhett. Yes, she does. Scarlett’s love for Ashley Wilkes has more to do with her upbringing, social expectations and her pride. Rhett doesn’t care for any of that and sees who Scarlett really is. Stop pining after Ashley, he’s saying. Stop with your business or whatever schemes you’ve got going on. Just let me kiss you.
A couple lines of this back and forth later, Scarlett throws out her sass, which Rhett loves. “You are a conceited, black-hearted varmint, Rhett Butler. I don’t know why I let you come see me.” Rhett laughs. Watch the chemistry in this exchange too. Vivien Leigh throws out that line like a whip, and walks away and pulls Gable along with her. Oh, amazing chemistry.
Amelie (2001): “It is exactly 11 a.m.”
A grandfather gives his grandson the best part of a roast chicken. A candy machine is spinning. Cardinals are practicing their backhand.
At that moment too, at 11 o’clock on a September day, Amelie finds true love.
Moulin Rouge! (2001): “Come what may”
There are many romantic and joyful moments in “Moulin Rouge!”, starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor. Both were at the top of their game. Kidman had just made “Eyes Wide Shut” with Stanley Kubrick and been critically acclaimed for her performance. McGregor was in the “Star Wars” prequels trilogy. In this movie, with both their imaginative and artistic skills combined, pop songs by Madonna and Elton John are made ageless and deep.
In this particular scene, there are many moments that still jump out and feel current to this day. The reactions from the audience. Kidman’s costume. The singing is still top notch.
And the music swells, and the chord around the minute-and-half mark in this clip is one of the most perfect moments ever in a film score.
The Princess Bride (1987): “As you wish”
“As you wish.”
Generations from now, they will probably still watch this movie and feel like here is an example of true love that will never die. What a wonderful movie.
Happy Valentine’s Day!