Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Some people might cringe at the thought they would be spending time by themselves and then there are some who are not single but are in an unhappy relationship. So, they too will be spending Valentine’s Day by themselves. Hopefully, if you are single, you are happy, and if you are in a relationship you are happy. Either way, you can still celebrate it. You don’t have to be in love or have a significant other or be romantically deprived to appreciate these films I’m about to list. They are great works of art anyone could watch over and over! So let the arrow of Cupid strike the heart of the hopeless romantic.
The first film (animation) on my list is Millenium Actress (2001), directed by Satoshi Kon. I remember seeing this animation on my recommendation list on Prime Video. It’s not one of those shows where I can put it in the background and still know what is going on. This animation is a piece of ART! I had to give it all my attention to completely appreciate it. Let me tell you, I find it hard these days to find something good to watch. Partially it’s because most things are just blah to me. So when I do find something that speaks to my senses, I am reminded why I appreciate art, theatre and anything creative in general. Artistically, this animation is creatively well done. The soundtrack is also great! At a glance, it feels like a romantic story, but there’s nothing romantic about the animation. Infatuation for someone you barely met is a bit crazy, and yet there’s something tragically innocent about this film that I like. It captivates a young girl’s heart in a twisted way.
Like Millenium Actress, The Road Home (1999) directed by Yi-Mou Zhang, revolves around the retelling of a young woman’s infatuation except it is not as sad. Also, the story is told by the son through the lens of his mother. What I enjoyed about this film is the simplistic shots taken in rural China. Everything seems so down to earth and beautiful despite the political turmoil during that era as we see in To Live. The scenery is wholesome and bittersweet, especially the cooking scene. I never wanted to eat dumplings so badly! Village life in a remote area seems so pure from the sophisticated city life, although I can’t say I am a fan of China’s communism or communism in general. Having to tiptoe around politics can be quite exhausting for the creative folks.It is even more of a threat if you are established and well known.
Last but not least on the list is Jane Eyre (1997), directed by Robert Young. I’ve seen the longer version from BBC, but this one is just as good. This version is short and simple. The language is poetic and moving. My favorite line is when Rochester interrupted Jane by saying Thorfield has become a ruin like himself. The wordplay is a punch to the heart when he refers himself to a ruin. Ruins may crumble but they are also majestically precious and beautiful that need attentive care. The film ended strongly because of its powerful metaphor, which I may go into detail about it at a later time. For now, this film was a good treat when I wanted to listen to people talk poetically to each other.
When I put this list together, it was interesting to see how each culture presents love and romance in different ways and wonder if time has changed all that much in the way people think about courting and love. Artistically, I don’t think one is superior than the other. They all have their special style. I know that Millenium Actress is not considered romance but drama. But I think it’s romantic enough for male audience so that is why I chose it for my list. This also made me wonder why it seems that women do the chasing and not men in Asian cinema. I don’t think I have ever seen East Asian films where the men pursue the women, but I could be wrong. I can’t say I have seen a lot of films to convince me otherwise. Perhaps, this is a topic I want to look in greater detail. Simply for my own pure amusement. Hopefully you will learn something along with me.