Love's Many Faces

     Romantic dreams would have to be my favorite type of movie. But, just as there are many different types of movies, there are many different types of love to portray in romantic movies. Three of my favorite movies this semester have been movies that involved a love story. They are William Wyler's 1934 Wuthering Heights, George Cukor's 1964 My Fair Lady, and Elia Kazan's 1951 A Streetcar Named Desire. Though they are all love stories, each one depicts love in a different, yet intriguing manner.

     The love story in Wuthering Heights, based on Emily Brontė's 1847 novel, is based on the characters, Catherine and Heathcliff. The two grew up together, almost as brother (Rex Downing) and sister (Sarita Wooten), though they developed a friendship that soon turned into love. This story pulls at my heartstrings because I could see and feel the love between Catherine (Merle Oberon) and Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier), even when they were denying it to themselves and each other. Though things did not work out for them the way I had hoped, the intensity of their love was powerful and fulfilling to me as a viewer.

     In My Fair Lady, based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 Pygmalion, the love affair is not so obvious. The love story slowly unwraps, almost in an in-between-lines sort of way. Higgins (Rex Harrison) is Eliza's (Audrey Hepburn) teacher, but Eliza essentially teaches Higgins to open his heart and love. Through the long days of practicing linguistics and speech, Higgins cannot help but to fall for Eliza's stubbornness and determination. And Eliza cannot help being attracted to Higgins' intelligence and authority. The story is sweet and heart-warming, even though it is not your typical romantic tale.

     Last, but not least, the relationship of Stanley and Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire, based on Tennessee Williams' 1947 play, is by far the most dysfunctional of the three. I do not doubt for a moment that Stanley (Marlon Brando) and Stella (Kim Hunter) love each other; however, their ways of showing their love are not so typical. Stanley is very critical and abusive towards his wife; and, though Stella seems strong, she is weak to his harsh attitudes and criticisms. Though Stella leaves after every fight, she always returns to Stanley; and they smother each other with kisses and gentleness that never seem to last. I still enjoyed this movie, though, because the power of their love is undeniably present. It intrigues the mind and pulls me into their relationship. The biggest thing is that I begin to care about this couple.

     These three movies are successful in that they portray love in the many ways it exists. Though we, as viewers, may not agree with the couples' ways of living, we still cannot deny that we, too, have been victims of love's many faces.

Barbara Kern

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