Big Movies ,Rs 499
Love meant a boy and a girl crossing swords,and sparkling glances,in an Ivy League library. Love meant rolling exuberantly in the snowdrifts,licking snowflakes off a cheek. Love meant lying in a sofa meant for one,all hugger mugger,like two spoons. Love meant being Oliver and Jenny in Love Story,discovering each other in wonder and amazement,the way it happens with all new lovers when it first hits them.
Erich Segals death last week was a reminder of just what a phenomenon his book,about a pair of tragic lovers,was. But the film based on the slim novel was an even bigger one: it played everywhere,and it ran and ran. Every generation needs a classic love story; Love Story,starring Ryan ONeal and Ali MacGraw was the anthem for the early 70s.
Oliver Barrett the Fourth (ONeal) comes from a long line of brown-nosed patricians who all went to Harvard (one of the wings is named after an illustrious ancestor). Jennifer Cavelleri (MacGraw) is a free-spirited Radcliffe grad. He is rich and nice,she is poor and smart. The twain meet,love blooms and,heres-the-conflict-we-were-waiting-for,the boys snooty parents put poor Jenny down. Undaunted,the lovers decide to tie the knot,and the boys father cuts him off without a shilling. The newly married couple live happily on love and fresh air and,then heres-the-other-one-we-were-waiting for Jenny falls very ill. The Big C is never mentioned directly,but we know,and the characters know,that she has very little time left.
Director Arthur Hiller talks about the filming of Love Story in a detailed extra section in the DVD,and about how the world was ready for a movie like that one. The cynicism of the 60s was a deeply corrosive thing,and if you didnt agree with someone,you hated them that was an automatic axiom. The new decade was ready for a softer,gentler vision,where you could disagree with someone and yet love them.
Paramount made Hiller promise he would make the film under 2 mill,and he topped out 25 grand less,which he decided to call on,to go to Boston for some extra shooting. The worst snowstorm in 20 years shut down the town,but Hiller used all the snow to get his stars to gambol in,and captured their youthful energy on screen. All the early bustle is in sharp contrast to the sombre end,when Jenny is aware that she is dying,and when she breathes her last. It is one of those movies in which it is a pleasure to cry,because that is where the film is leading you to,in an honest,unsparing way.
I watched Love Story last weekend after all those years,and I cried,all over again. Except maybe,now that Im all grown up and all,I didnt use as many tissues this time around. And,yes,the film did lovers one signal disservice by that line which everyone went around manically quoting: Love means never having to say you are sorry.
Were afraid,Mr. Segal,true love knows that only a heartfelt apology can assuage pain. May your soul rest in peace.