Editor’s Column: The Way Movies Were



Around Christmas, I always watch It’s A Wonderful Life. Around Halloween, I always watch classic horror movies like Psycho and Carrie. But around Valentine’s Day, I’m usually at a loss about what to watch. The way I see it, there are two categories when it comes to movies about love. First, there are the sappy movies. Although I realize when I watch them how exaggerated and silly these movies are, I find myself crying at the end every time. I do enjoy watching movies like these (my favorites are Titanic and Love Story), but at the same time, these movies are meant to be enjoyed in moderation, ideally less than once every few years. Watch them too often, and you will inevitably become too cynical to enjoy them.

Second, there are romantic comedies. With the exception of When Harry Met Sally, I have truly given up on these films.

As I repeatedly watch some of the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood cry into their ice cream bowls about how they are never going to have a man, I immediately lose patience and think: first, you are way too skinny to eat ice cream. In real life, you would be crying into a bowl of kale. Second, in these movies all of these women have great careers and great friends. I’m sorry that Bradley Cooper didn’t ask you for your number, but I have a feeling your life will probably turn out okay.

This all leads me to the inevitable conclusion: there is really only one good movie about love; a movie that isn’t too sappy, but not a ridiculous rom-com either. That movie is The Way We Were. For those of you who know me and the movie, you can probably guess my initial attraction to it. The main character (played by Barbara Streisand) is a Jewish girl named Katie with crazy curly hair who attends a small liberal arts school in Upstate New York (the movie is filmed at Union College). She has many flaws. She does not seem to have a filter between her thoughts and what she says aloud. She can be opinionated, stubborn and prone to rants about issues nobody else cares about. I know what you are thinking: she and I share the same name! Perhaps we share a few other traits as well…

In stark contrast is Hubble (played by Robert Redford). He is an over-privileged WASP who is a naturally gifted writer but could care less about working hard in school. Katie and Hubble develop a friendship in college but it isn’t until later that they meet up again and fall in love.

In any other movie, that would be the end of the story. Opposites attract! Despite their deep, fundamental difference they live happily ever after simply because they love each other. Yet, as I mentioned before, this movie is in a category of its own. Their relationship is tumultuous. Katie brings the best out in Hubble. She pushes him to be a writer and he enjoys a lot of success. He realizes how gifted he truly is and she loves that side of him. Yet, on the other hand, Katie never seems satisfied with Hubble and cannot get along with his friends. She finds them vapid and superficial. Hubble truly loves Katie and makes her real­ize she doesn’t have to live life full of despair about the world. But he cannot understand why she is constantly so preoccupied with her next crusade. He often finds her pretentious, harsh and embarrassing.

Unlike most movies, it’s very hard to pick a side in their perpetual argument. They clearly love each other but they both have valid and fundamental issues with the other. As I’m sure you can guess, they don’t end up together. They love each other, they bring out the best in each other, but they can’t be together. In the final scene, Katie runs into Hubble when he’s with his new girlfriend: the predictable boring straight-haired girl. Katie and Hubble catch up a little and then Katie utters my favorite line of the movie, “Your girl is lovely, Hubble.”

While this ending may seem depressing to some, I think it’s perfect. As I look back on my year as I do every Valentine’s Day, I want to be at peace with all the decisions I have made, just like Katie and Hubble. Valentine’s Day makes me think about all the relation­ships I have – especially the ones I value the most with my family and friends. All too often we try hard, put our heart and soul into something, and in the end it doesn’t work out. Instead of being bogged down by regret, instead take the Katie and Hubble route and look back with nostalgia, hope and an understanding of the lessons you’ve learned.

Contact Katie David at [email protected].