This is not going to be a list of things that you can buy for one another. There are plenty of those to be found; you can’t swing a cat without hitting some Top Five Gift Suggestions list. No, this is more intended to inspire.
See, so many of our ideas about romance sprout from seeds planted by Hollywood. Love stories and romantic comedies have dictated love’s landscape in our culture for years now. So why not turn the tables?
The following is a list of some classic (or at least classic to me) movies featuring iconic scenes of romance. In addition, we will be offering some suggestions of places in the greater Bangor area where you and the love of your life might be able to recreate those scenes yourselves.
(Bear in mind, in an attempt not to show favoritism, references to specific establishments - businesses, restaurants, etc. - will be avoided whenever possible. This is intended to be a general guideline; you should feel free to embellish and adjust how you will. And while it might take a little of the romance out of the experience, bringing along a friend who is willing to operate the camera will probably make things easier.)
Chuck Klosterman has a great line about how every single woman of a certain age in this country was, is and forever shall be in love with Lloyd Dobler. And who could blame them? John Cusack’s Dobler is the epitome of the quirky, sensitive boy. His courtship of Diane Court is sweet and awkward and beautiful. Of course, it’s not all a bed of roses - it never is - but “Say Anything” is one of those films that resonates as much now as it did then.
Diane has broken up with Lloyd and broken his heart. In the course of trying to win her back, he pulls out all the stops. Director Cameron Crowe gave us one of the greatest scenes in teen cinema when he put Lloyd outside Diane’s window in the rain in his ubiquitous trenchcoat, boom box held aloft and Peter Gabriel blaring forth.
This one is just for the gents, obviously, but it is also probably the easiest one on the list. Really, all you need is a coat, a stereo and a willingness to stand in the rain outside her window. Preferably near your car. Of course, it’s February, so rain might not be in the forecast. Still, if you’ve got a lady love born anytime between 1970 and 1990, she will likely love a picture of her man doing it up Dobler-style.
This is another modern classic; hard to believe this movie is over 20 years old. Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze are deeply in love. However, his untimely death rips them apart too soon. It’s not the end, though, as Swayze’s ghost contacts his lost love through medium Whoopi Goldberg. It’s a sweet, sad story about the power of love, lost or otherwise. There’s some spooky stuff and some crime stuff, but at its heart, “Ghost” is a love story.
We all know the scene. Moore’s character is a talented potter and so has a wheel to throw pots in her studio. At one point, Swayze and Moore get … close … while they work a pottery wheel together and “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers plays in the background; the moment has become ingrained in popular culture and parodied innumerable times.
Putting this one together takes a bit of planning, but it’ll be totally worth it if you pull it off. The big obstacle is getting your hands on a pottery wheel. However, there is a major university just up the street. Odds are that if the folks in the UMaine art department can’t just set you up in a space with a wheel, they can point you in the right direction. From there, it’s just grabbing the clay and the camera and getting just a little dirty.
Sure, it might not be a love story in the sense that some of these other movies are, but the relationship between Rick and Ilsa is a huge part of the proceedings. The idea of expatriates in love is a very romantic one - ex-lovers finding one another again in a foreign land. Of course, the fact that it’s one of the greatest movies of all time, starring two of the finest actors (Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman) helps as well.
It’s Bogie and Bergman, standing on the tarmac as the prop plane behind them fires up its engines. Both of them stand on the runway; he’s rumpled, she’s elegant. It’s perhaps the most famous farewell shared between lovers in Hollywood history. Rick says good-bye to Ilsa - not because he wants to, but because it is what’s best for her. You’d be hard pressed to get more romantic than this.
Well, this one is going to take a little bit of doing. First off, Bangor International Airport is out; they can’t be having yahoos just wandering around on their runways. However, there are a number of smaller airfields in the general area; not only are these more likely to be willing to let you on the tarmac, but they’ll have more of the propeller planes that you need for authenticity. From there, it’s just a matter of getting proper hats (fedora for him, pillbox for her) and firing up the engines.
“When Harry Met Sally”
This one is for all of you out there - men and women alike - who have ever found themselves trapped in the dreaded “friend zone.” Billy Crystal is Harry and Meg Ryan is Sally, two people who keep finding themselves thrown together by circumstances despite their many differences and constant attempts to find love in other places. It’s a wonderful exploration of how romance can evolve and two people can gradually uncover feelings for one another that they didn’t even know they had.
The most famous scene in this movie - and one of the most well-known in recent cinematic history - is the deli scene. Harry and Sally sit down for lunch at Katz’s Deli in New York City and wind up on the subject of orgasms, specifically fake ones. Harry claims that he could easily tell if his partner was faking. Accepting the challenge, Sally proceeds to go through her own routine at full volume in the middle of the restaurant. “I’ll have what she’s having” - just a classic comedic button.
Easy enough, although honestly, the woman gets most of the heavy lifting on this one. All you have to do is find any sort of dining establishment with tables, though I would recommend avoiding fine dining establishments for this one. You and your love sit down at a table facing each other and order your sandwiches. From there, it’s the lady’s time to shine. Just let it rip. Sure, you might get some odd looks from your fellow patrons, but what can you do? You can’t make a memory without breaking some eggs.
“10 Things I Hate About You”
It might be a bit of a cop-out, but “10 Things” is based on one of the funniest love stories of them all, William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” It’s light-hearted fluff for sure, but at its center is the burgeoning relationship between Patrick (Heath Ledger) and Katrina (Julia Stiles). It’s got most of the qualities you want from your screwball romantic comedies; it just happens to be set in a high school. Unlike most teen rom-coms, you actually root for the two of them to succeed.
There are actually a couple of good ones here, but my personal favorite (and the one likely to be the most fun to reenact) is the scene at the stadium following Pat and Kat’s first fight. Pat must win his way back into her good graces, so he sacrifices his dignity at the altar of Terpsichore. By that, I mean he dances around the bleachers and sings a surprisingly good rendition of Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.”
Again, this might be a little dicey, so please recreate responsibly. There are a number of high school and college stadiums in the area that would work just fine for recreating this moment. You can of course just sing a capella, but some sort of amplification would certainly up the authenticity. Don’t be afraid to really vamp your way up and down those bleachers. And trust me, guys - your loved one will be both slightly embarrassed and absolutely charmed.
These are just a few of the many, many romantic movie moments that you and yours can recreate; they aren’t even necessarily my favorite films. There are scores of different moments out there that you can reimagine and reenact. “Love Story;” “Titanic;” “Sleepless in Seattle;” “The Notebook” - and that’s just off the top of my head.
The cinema has become such a huge part of our culture; it makes sense that we would feel very visceral, real connections to the love stories that we’ve seen unfold on the silver screen. These powerful images of love are burned into our brains already, so why not offer our own takes?