Love stories are not only about an approach between two people. On a higher level, they always show two different life plans or two different worlds that collide. One of the two lovers always has to decide whether he wants to leave his old world or not. The decision should plunge a character into a real dilemma.
Every love story is based on a simple principle: a lover must ultimately choose between two worlds. One world is dead, the other world is alive. The living world is embodied by art, naturalness, fun, laughter and pleasure. The dead world is characterized by money, politics (power struggles), everyday life, mediocrity and boredom.
The lover is almost always part of the dead world or trapped in it and must free himself from it. A character who initially lives in a dead world and then awakens from it is, for example, the protagonist of the film “Titanic”. Rose lives in a world of luxury and arrogance towards poorer people. She meets the penniless artist Jack, who not only saves her from suicide, but shows her a new world of joy and vitality.
Another figure who is initially dead inside is Benjamin Braddock from the film “The Graduate” (1967). Benjamin is seduced by Mrs. Robinson, who could be his mother, and is introduced to the world of love. However, the mood between Benjamin and Mrs. Robinson falls apart when the seduced man realizes that Mrs. Robinson herself is “dead”. Benjamin then falls in love with the daughter of Mrs. Robinson.
A final example of a character who at first doesn’t even notice how dead she actually is comes from the film “Pretty Woman” (1990). The businessman Edward Lewis lives in wealth and luxury. He meets the prostitute Vivian Ward, who brings liveliness into his dreary life and “kisses him awake”. Edward changes his view of the world and becomes more lively. Eventually, the two become a couple.
Rather less often the protagonist himself embodies the living world and his partner the “dead world”. The film “Hitch” (2005) is such a filmic narrative. The marriage broker Alex Hitchens helps men to find the right woman. But he himself has not yet discovered the woman for life. This changes when the cheerful man meets the rather cool and critical journalist Sara Melas and falls in love with her.
Other comedies that play with the theme of the cheerful protagonist are the films “The Yes Man” (2008), “50 First Dates” (2004) and “What Women Want” (2000). Although the cheerful protagonist is not a clear sign of a romantic comedy, he is much more common in comedies than in serious love stories.
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