Three profoundly poignant, powerful films that idiosyncratically adhere, to one’s memory; permanent, lifelong residents, quiet reminders of youth’s surging, electrifying passion; a love never experienced in the history of mankind; convinced of its uniqueness, permanence, consuming every waking moment, dominating dreams, allowing nothing, or no one, to trespass on its sublimity; its redolence lies in its universality; life’s serendipitous, karmic whims can bifurcate relationships but “love” remains ingrained, steadfast, regardless of the form it assumes.
“Splendor in the Grass” (1961), “Wilma” (Natalie Wood) and “Bud” (Warren Beatty) entrenched in twentieth-century mores cannot consummate their all-consuming passion; director Elia Kazan masterfully paints a portrait of love’s capability to cripple reason, permanently altering life’s trajectory; “Genevieve” (Catherine Deneuve) and “Guy” (Nino Castelnuovo) experience a separation in director Jacques Demy’s enchanting French musical “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (1964) their palpable connection, extensively heartfelt, sung to the musical score of magical composer, Michel Legrand; we believe with every fiber of our emotional sphere that she will “wait for him”; Wilma & Bud, Genevieve & Guy, sick with love, and possibly because of their youth and the time, lacked the fortitude to hold on; the conclusion of both films is filled with immense nostalgia, loss, regrets, but a chamber in their hearts is reserved for the love they professed, now dormant, but forever sacred.
“Mia” (Emma Stone) and “Sebastian” (Ryan Gosling) are sophisticated, twenty-first century lovers in “La La Land”; intimacy issues, exsanguinating in a bygone era; director Damien Chazelle and composer Justin Hurvitz stun with music and a scenario that throbs with energy, pulsating vibrancy, and a purity, style long absent; Chazelle, at thirty-two has a senescent soul, loving, lionizing his filmic predecessors (Demy’s “Umbrellas..”, “Wizard of Oz”, Hollywood’s 40’s, 50’s musicals, “Pulp Fiction”); Mia and Ryan, products of a universe informed by technology, uninhibited, make choices that determine the flow of their futures. The last fifteen minutes of “La La Land”, offers a realistic, plaintive ending, reminiscent of “Splendor in the Grass” and “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” recalling the prescient poetry of William Wordsworth (1770-1850):
What though the radiance was once so bright
Be now forever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind.