Star-crossed lovers, a classic staple of the romantic narrative. We've heard this old story before. Two people enter into a forbidden love affair. The precise nature of the romance might very, but in the end, whether it is the circumstances surrounding the relationship, politics, social standards, or some other unforseen obstacle, it is inevitable that the story will end in tragedy. It's as if the stars themselves were against them (or at least they would be if astrology actually meant something, though the term was coined before people really understood how the universe worked).
The name comes from William Shakespeare's classic tragedy Romeo and Juliet, where the title characters were the children of two warring families. Romeo, desperate to win back a girl who dumped him, ends up sneaking into a party hosted by a rival family where he meets Juliet. The two of them instantly fall in love, but in the end are blinded by it to the point where they are ready to leave everything they've ever known behind and find themselves literally dying for each other. It's a tragic tale about just how destructive love can be, though it can do good as well; their tragic tale is what finally brings peace between the two families.
Of course, Star-Crossed lovers existed in literature long before Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare himself incorporates the very similar story of Pyramus and Thisbe into his A Midsummer Night's Dream), and there have been quite a few since. That's what this week's Thursday Movie Picks Meme is all about. I'm tasked with finding three films that centre on star-crossed lovers. Seeing as I've never been the most fluent in the romance genre, this is a bit more challenging. I feel it's best to avoid the obvious choices, so I won't be including any film versions of Romeo and Juliet.
Still, I have a few other good examples to choose from. For the sake of variety, I've decided to try out a few different couples for this one. I've got one heterosexual pair, as well as gay and lesbian star-crossed lovers. That seems like an interesting combination, and I've also tried to find some choices that the other participants aren't as likely to think of.
Bonnie and Clyde (1968)
As the title implies, this classic crime film tells the story of Bonnie and Clyde, a legendary duo who became notorious bank robbers in 1930's America. They were able to do a lot of damage with the crimes they did commit together, but in the end, it all came crashing down on top of them. The police did not take kindly to their actions and eventually gunned both of them down, unarmed, in the middle of an open street in broad daylight. It's a tragic tale, but one with far more action than you would normally expect from a love story.
Ang Lee's famous "gay cowboy" film begins in the 1960's (and continues into the 70's), so unsurprisingly life is difficult when two men find themselves attracted to each other. These two lovers manage to surprisingly well given how long their affair lasts and the challenges they face, but in the end they are lovers in a world that sees their relationship as morally wrong. That has a way of complicating even the most intimate relationships, especially when they have to keep their true feelings a secret from everyone around them.
Mulholland Dr. (2002)
Okay, so this one's a bit more subjective, but while I seem to find that every time I watch it I get a different impression of what's going on, the romantic aspect of the film cannot be refuted. One thing that this film tries to do is show the darker side of Hollywood, and one of the ways it does that is through a romantic sub-plot. In the final act, we get a story centring around romance between upcoming actress Diane and Camilla, one that ends in heartbreak as the unfortunate reality of Hollywood filmmaking becomes apparent. The precise sequence of events (and how they connect to the romance between Betty and Rita, played by the same actresses) are somewhat ambiguous, but the star-crossed aspect is definitely there.