Monday, February 25, 2013
"The Way We Were"
"The Way We Were" is running on Turner Classic Movies at this moment. I've seen it a dozen times and believe it is one of the greatest romance movies of all time. The story works so well, the direction so elegant, the acting so superb, that I can overlook my subtle dislike for Redford's politics and extreme dislike of both Streisand AND her politics and enjoy these two cinematic characters.
The film works because it is an "Everyman" story. It is a story that plays out a million times a year, all over the world. It works because we know from the very beginning that the relationship will not endure. And that knowledge breaks our hearts. Intuitively we know that love does not conquer all; it cannot bridge the wide chasm of personality differences that exist between the two characters.
And yet, all through the film we hope beyond hope that love will triumph over distinctly different senses of morality, over politics, over personal interest and over varying expectations of success.
As these two souls are sailing the stormy seas of life they, at various times, cling to each other in a desperate need for comfort, to share love and life. And, sadly, but truthfully, neither of the two lovers can claim the moral high ground. Both have qualities that complement each other but those attributes will simply not balance out on the scales of compatibility. Both have something good to offer but not enough to satisfy what each of them need.
One of the most heart wrenching scenes ever put to film is the last scene in the movie. After many years apart Katie and Hubble meet on the streets of New York. Each have entered the autumn of their lives having settled for a life style, and relationships that they can "live with".
But look into the eyes of these two former loves and lovers. There remains an intense love buried in the embers, dampened by the many years of "settling" for what they can have, with a deep regret for a love that they could not make work. You can see the angst of their failure in that final scene as Katie reaches out to touch Hubble's face. That one gesture expresses the longing and regret of a million of us who were somehow unable to make love triumph over the vast differences in what we want and need to get through our short stormy tour through life.