Though Valentine’s Day is behind us, we are always thinking about how we see love. Sure, the pageantry of celebrating one’s love can be reaffirming and even heartwarming. With that being said, what of real love? In fact, what even is ‘real love’?
Though we are constantly adding to what we know about love and its many forms – not unlike many of our fellow queens – there are some stories that have strongly influenced our understanding of it.
1. Sleeping Beauty
This could very well be the most classic rendition of love, with many of us remembering this story as a piece of our childhood. The circumstances are of fantasy, centering around a beautiful protagonist who can only be awakened with a kiss. It doesn’t quite represent an empowering ideal, but fairytale love stories such as Sleeping Beauty give queens everywhere to revisit a time when love had a concrete definition.
2. La belle et la bête
Jean Cocteau’s classic story is one that revisits an older aspect of love. The story starts with some grim tones, admittedly. The circumstances aren’t quite romantic to start, but that changes gradually. Our protagonist starts off as a prisoner and finds herself with more power when the Beast falls in love with her. Along with the shifting power dynamics – that eventually balance out – this a story of a love that reveals itself to be unconditional.
A natural and unfortunate aspect of love is the tragedy that often comes with it. The scales of this tragedy vary from acute to major. In Devdas, we felt the articulation of both of these sorts. Two lovers, to whom love is a matter of destiny and hope, are confounded with challenge after challenge. The movie drifts through hours of hope met with coldness and despair. Yet, we’re reminded to keep in mind what the struggle is for: love. In this way, Devdas, and all of its heartwrenching turns, are a less-than-subtle reminder that love often takes some pursuit. Just as often, it takes the strength to withstand seemingly inevitable tragedy.
4. Memoirs of a Geisha
There may not be a better example of the dynamism of love than the theme in this film. In this monumental production, our protagonist is constantly discouraged from thoughts of “real love.” Counter to that, she persists and works to earn her place in a love story that no one believed was even good enough to be fiction, let alone possible. Her efforts worked as dissonance for viewers as it was difficult to understand her particular pursuit of an older gentleman’s love. To most, she was simply looking at an esteemed potential client as the possible source of a love she craved. This story is a triumph of a different kind of love, a most unusual one.
5. The Little Mermaid
In the classic from Hans Christian Anderson, we see one of the more familiar iterations of love: the unselfish kind. Many stories glorify this, but often come up short of the theme. We seldom get to see displays of unselfish love that feel raw and authentic. In The Little Mermaid, the sacrifice being made is heartbreaking and begs the questions if any one of us would have done the same.