Image courtesy of bruno-wp.blogspot.com
I just watched the movies this week (yeah I know…where have I been?) In fact, I had never heard about these treasures until I stumbled upon this. Dika said they are ‘thought-provoking’ and upon watching them myself, I have to agree with him on that.
Let me start off with the plot of the story. In ‘Before Sunrise’, American tourist Jesse and French student Celine meet by chance on the train from Budapest to Vienna. Sensing that they are developing a connection, Jesse asks Celine to spend the day with him in Vienna, and she agrees. Passing the time before his scheduled flight the next morning. the two embark on a spiritual and emotional odyssey. Bonding through the act of conversation, Jesse and Celine discover each other’s true essence – their hopes and dreams, their passions and peeves, and their wants and needs. (summary written by firstname.lastname@example.org).
I think you will agree with me that our chance of meeting a nice stranger with whom we can have a nice chat is 50-50. AND the probability of having a nice, deep, contemplative conversation for 14 HOURS with that stranger is almost zero, right? But here’s here. Our characters met on the train, exchanged ideas, and when the guy had to get off the train in Vienna, he asked her to go with him. He gave her an interesting rationalization:
Jesse: Yeah, right, well, great. So listen, so here’s the deal. This is what we should do. You should get off the train with me here in Vienna, and come check out the capital.
Jesse: Come on. It’ll be fun. Come on.
Celine: What would we do?
Jesse: Umm, I don’t know. All I know is I have to catch an Austrian Airlines flight tomorrow morning at 9:30 and I don’t really have enough money for a hotel, so I was just going to walk around, and it would be a lot more fun if you came with me. And if I turn out to be some kind of psycho, you know, you just get on the next train.
Jesse: Alright, alright. Think of it like this: jump ahead, ten, twenty years, okay, and you’re married. Only your marriage doesn’t have that same energy that it used to have, y’know. You start to blame your husband. You start to think about all those guys you’ve met in your life and what might have happened if you’d picked up with one of them, right? Well, I’m one of those guys. That’s me y’know, so think of this as time travel, from then, to now, to find out what you’re missing out on. See, what this really could be is a gigantic favor to both you and your future husband to find out that you’re not missing out on anything. I’m just as big a loser as he is, totally unmotivated, totally boring, and, uh, you made the right choice, and you’re really happy.
Celine: Let me get my bag.
His rationalization turns out the other way around in the sequel, ‘Before Sunset’ (their second encounter after 9 years have passed). In reality, Celine didn’t get married and the scenario he presents more represents HIM. But instead of him being ‘big loser, totally unmotivated, totally boring’, he in fact is the best thing that ever happened to her. So while he’s selling the go-with-the-flow, it’s-not-a-big-deal mentality, in fact it IS a big deal, probably the most important choice she’ll ever make in her love life.
While ‘Before Sunrise’ sort of idealized a serendipitous encounter with ‘the one’ at its best, ‘Before Sunset’ brings us back to reality. They met again, after 9 years of separation. Well, they’re supposed to meet again 6 months after they parted in platform 9 in Vienna’s train station as they pledged each other but it never happened. So they met again in Paris. Jesse, now a writer (of which about that night they met), on the last stop of his book tour, at the tail end of a reading in a Paris book shop, met Celine again. He confessed later that he wrote the book as a way to find her (of which I think the sweetest thing a guy is capable of doing to express his feeling). But things were different and complicated for them. The chemistry was still there. They talked and talked and found the soul-to-soul connection they once had (and never lost). Nevertheless, they lived their lives, made choices (Jesse is now married with one son, Celine has a boyfriend). This, arguably, was the most realistic, brutally honest ‘romance story’ ever written. Jesse was utterly clear in expressing his regret (of them not meeting sooner) he said:
Oh, God, why weren’t you there, in Vienna? I wish you would have been. Our lives might have been so much different.
Celine was much more realistic at first, referring them with their encounter in Vienna as
You know, maybe we’re – we’re only good at brief encounters, walking around in European cities in warm climate.
Memories are wonderful things, if you don’t have to deal with the past.
Is it true? Well we would find out towards the end that Celine actually wrote a song about Jesse. Gosh, could it be more romantic than that? He wrote her a book, she wrote a song! And before you realize it, the movie is over I told you that this is the most realistic love story ever written, so don’t expect them to end up together I can never think of any better ending really. Think about it, Jesse loves his son, and divorce would end at least half of his time with him. What would you do if you are married with a child and you meet your biggest love in life again? Is it better to divorce and risk seeing your child only at weekends, but live together with your true love? As for Celine, will the memory of one love and ‘what if’ prevent her from fully letting go with someone else?
Afterall, we are all adults with certain roles and responsibilities the society demands from us. When we think about it, suddenly we realize it is not all about love. It is about life. Life’s hard. It’s supposed to be. If we didn’t suffer, we’d never learn anything.
Just to share the gem, I will leave you with the links where you can read all wonderful quotes from these movies. My favorite is:
I guess when you’re young, you just believe there’ll be many people with whom you’ll connect with. Later in life, you realize it only happens a few times.
Here you are…
Of course I strongly recommend you watch the movies first!