Hopeless romantics beware: Every film showcased in Eng 213 dealt distinctly with heartbreak in one form or another: why such sorrow and deferred affection?--why such predominant displays of unrequited love? Could it be possible that we relate more so to the theme of heartache found in certain films than to the varied themes of true love in so many others? Of course, it is accepted without condition that we each have experienced failure in our lives; and no matter how minuscule, and though they tend to lurk off-screen, we still can sense their presence. Perhaps it is exactly such films of failed marriages and carnal desires that tend to captivate us the most, if not intellectually then at least emotionally speaking.
One film we watched in class that dealt specifically with the issue of heartache was the 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire, as directed by Elia Kazan and based on Tennessee Williams' 1947 play. Handled beautifully, the film chronicles the tragic downfall of Blanche DuBois played by Vivien Leigh. In fact, the film struck such a chord with cinephiles that the line, "Stella! Hey, Stella!" as bellowed by Marlon Brando, was eventually voted by the American Film Institute as forty-fifth in popularity out of a hundred other very well-known movie quotations.
Other films in class we had the opportunity to see, such as the 1939 film Wuthering Heights, as directed by William Wyler, the 1954 film of Los Abismos de Pasion, as directed by Luis Buñuel and loosely based upon the 1847 novel Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë, and even the 1949 film of The Heiress, which was also directed by William Wyler and based on Henry James's 1880 Washington Square, were all films that not only dealt with heartache but also highlighted in great clarity the aftermath of such heartache felt years later in a character's life. Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier), Eduardo (Ernesto Alonzo), and Catherine Sloper (Olivia de Havilland) all received in their latter years a cold heart most definitely due to their hearts having been broken so long ago.
Perhaps the most important lesson we can learn from such films is not to accept with such unabashed faith the
Cinderella-like myth of finding one's true love. Instead we should critique our own emotions as logically and hopefully as humanly as possible as though we were critiquing these many films. However, it is certainly nice that life is not just another script to be acted out accordingly.