For many of us, February can mean more snow than we ever want to see again (just yesterday we got over 20 inches in our part of Maryland) . . . it also means Groundhog Day (he was so right this time) . . . and Valentine’s Day.
Despite its origins as a religious nod to Saint Valentine’s generosity of spirit, over time Valentine’s Day has become all about hearts, flowers, chocolate and sweet little candy hearts – and all about romantic sentiment. Although it’s commercialized and may raise expectations beyond the pale, it’s also, at its best, a day to remember that true love and romance, whether or not it has its very own day, is worth celebrating.
What do the Wenches recommend this Valentine’s Day? MOVIES! Great, romantic, snuggle-up, pass the popcorn and unwrap the chocolate, movies! There’s something especially wonderful about a feel-good, quality romance on the screen that can put a smile on your face and a glow of happiness in your heart. We've listed some of our favorites here for you - and we hope you'll do the same for us in the comments section.
As we tossed around some movie suggestions, a few clear favorites quickly emerged among many great choices. Here are our top picks: romantic-themed movies that have something truly special – stories, characters, extraordinary moments that just make us want to rewind and watch over and over.
The Word Wenches Top Picks for Most Romantic Movies Ever (in no particular order, though the first one was unanimously popular!):
Ladyhawke – Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Matthew Broderick. A lady and a knight are under an evil magic spell that keeps them forever apart, night and day—until a thief and a priest try to break the spell.
Pride and Prejudice – Keira Knightley and Matthew McFadyen… An exquisite feature film of Austen’s novel – and also the Colin-Firth-as-Mr.-Darcy multi-episode series – we love both versions, because who could pick?
Love Actually -- Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley, Alan Rickman and others … A great, funny, touching romantic comedy about several separate yet ultimately connected love stories set in London at Christmas.
Shakespeare in Love -- Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes … A noblewoman falls in love with the stage - and with a playwright who has an idea for a tragic romantic play. . .
First Knight – Richard Gere, Julia Ormond, Sean Connery … A beautiful retelling of The Knight of the Cart and a believable love affair between Lancelot and Guinevere
Read on for our thoughts about these incredibly romantic and enjoyable movies – as well as some other truly wonderful movies that we think deserve special mention on this Saint Valentine’s Day. How do these movies work their romance magic and capture what the essence of romance on the screen?
Mary Jo Putney
Not surprisingly, I love a good romantic movie. But what would be my favorite? I've a great weakness forShakespeare in Love, because it's a perfect movie for old English majors and it's beautiful and smart and funny. The romance is only one thread and doesn't have a conventional happy ending, but it's intense and compelling and satisfying in its way.
But perhaps the most romantic movie I can think of is Ladyhawke. Though made in 1985 and not without flaws, the romance and the 12th century Spanish setting are stunning. Based on an old legend, the lovers, captain of the guard Navarre and the exquisitely beautiful Isabeau (played by Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer) have been cursed by a jealous bishop to be forever separated: Isabeau is a hawk by day and a woman by night, and Navarre is man by day and a wolf at night.
There is a heart wrenching scene at sunrise when they are both changing at the same time, reaching desperately out with their human hands to touch each other, but they can't do it before Isabeau transform again. Talk about a romantic conflict! Visually it's one of the most gorgeous movies I've ever seen, and this one does have a happy ending. In fact, it's probably the most joyous embrace I've ever seen in a movie. I could go on (Notting Hill, anyone?), but I think I'll go dig out my DVD of Ladyhawke instead!
Another movie that's historicalish and that has a great impossible love story with HEA is First Knight. I love that in that version of the Arthurian story, Woman is not the Evil Corrupter, but the redemption of both Arthur and Lancelot. Also, that Guinevere could love two different men in different ways. (But really, Sean Connery and Richard Gere. How could she NOT?!)
In thinking about movies I remember many love stories that were glorious but ended sadly, and many action/adventure films that had happy romances as a subplot. The number of full-blooded romantic movies seems remarkable small, and it's interesting that the wenches have the same favorites. Ladyhawke, for
example, and Sleepless in Seattle. There's also Pride & Prejudice, which while not truly a portrayal of the book, in my opinion, was a fabulous romantic film. I'll also note one that Nicola recommended a while ago, The Abduction Club, a glorious historical romantic romp with some very tasty young Georgian rascals.
I'm going to admit I don't watch a lot of movies. Just not my cuppa, I suppose. I find movies in a theater to be kinda loud and overwhelming. I'll mention two. The Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice, which I found visually beautiful and with enough accurate period details to keep me happy. I like the way this particular production presented the emotional bones of the story, without needing to layer on melodrama or state the obvious. Understated -- that's the word I'm looking for. And what can be more romantic that P&P, huh?
Another fav is The Princess Bride. Oh my, that is a funny movie. I will take Westley any day Buttercup decides she's tired of him.
Probably my favorite movie about love is Love Actually, which celebrates so many different kinds of love. Being a romance writer to the core, though, I'd give the girl with the crazy brother a happy ending, and I'd give Emma Thompson's philandering husband a smack and a change of heart. *g* I suppose the few bittersweet stories in the movie give it balance but me -- I want everyone to get their happy ending.
If we're talking older romantic movies, I always enjoy r eruns of Sleepless in Seattle -- and An Affair to Remember -- You've Got Mail, Pride and Prejudice, and just about every old Cary Grant screwball romantic comedy made.
Ah, romantic movies. Yes, it is very hard to choose a favourite! I love Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day because there are two romances and they are a beautiful contrast. The younger couple are all fiery and passionate and the older ones so much more understated and yet their romance is all the stronger for being so quietly intense. Plus it's a Cinderella story and I love a mature Cinderella!
My other favourites - Well, I know I've mentioned both The Abduction Club and All for Love many times, because they are funny and action-packed as well, good old-fashioned style period adventures with lots of romance as well. Recently a new favourite took its place on my shelf, though: Love Is All You Need with Pierce Brosnan. It's a Danish film with sub-titles about a woman who has just finished cancer treatment leaving her philandering husband and meeting a widower at her daughter's wedding. It's a grown up romance, very poignant, witty and hugely romantic. I love it!
Favorite romantic movies? Oh, that’s almost as hard as trying to pick a favorite romantic book! They are so many wonderful ones, from funny to serious and all shades in between. Love Actually was mentioned by a number of the wenches when the topic first was raised—and I have to say it’s one of my all-time favorites for the range of relationships and the poignant depiction of how the emotion takes hold of our heart. I also love The Princess Bride as the perfect fairytale story of True Love conquers all. And it’s hard not to mention the old Cary Grant movies, from the screwball romance in Bringing Up Baby to the second-chance tale of The Philadelphia Story to the darker Notorious, (my heart always gives a flutter when Grant walks into the house of villains and carries the “fallen” heroine Ingrid Bergman to safety.)
Oh, my all-time favorite romantic movie of all time has to be Ladyhawke. Achingly beautiful and totally delectable - Isabeau and Navarre are the essence of true love and utter devotion against all odds. My other romantic favorites – all deeply romantic, whether wrenching and deeply touching, or adorable and delightful – are The Princess Bride (is that the perfect movie? One of them, surely!); Shakespeare in Love; Truly Madly Deeply; First Knight; and Bridget Jones. Oh, and Last of the Mohicans too -- that kiss, that music, that vow in the waterfall – oh yeah. Give me a stack of these DVDs and shut me in a room with a TV and a generous supply of popcorn. I’m good for a long while.
And Sherrie Holmes, Wench Whipster, recommends:
Ladyhawke too – there’s Goliath, the gorgeous black Friesian stallion ridden by Navarre. And I once had a Doberman I named Navarre, and a cat I named Isabeau. The Princess Bride and Love Actually are two other favorite movies. I also recommend Starlight Hotel – it’s a sleeper, a visually stunning 1988 road trip movie that’s very much about the healing power of love, set after WWI and during the Great Depression.
And Happy Valentine’s Day – may your life be filled with flowers, chocolate and love – because we deserve all of those today - and every day. Truly.