The other day I was talking with some family friends about love stories. Which ones were the best, which should never have been written or filmed, etc. And I must admit, I was somewhat shocked by some of their answers, especially the answers that fell under the title “Greatest love story of ALL time”. I try not to criticize other people’s taste in books and films – I love movies like Lake Placid so I’ve got little room to judge – but there are some things that I simply cannot abide.
The Notebook? Seriously? This is the “greatest love story ever told”? You MUST be joking. Yes, many of my female friends (and a few male ones) actually claim to like The Notebook (why, I cannot say), but please for the love of god, never say that it’s the greatest love story ever told. Or really any other Nicholas Sparks book or movie for that matter.
And anything with a love triangle gets immediately crossed off the list as well. If you’re struggling with feelings for more than one person, it does NOT deserve the title of “greatest love story”.
Now, a few people mentioned Pride and Prejudice and The Princess Bride. This I can get behind. These are wonderful tales of love (and some of my favorite literary works). I would also accept tragic love classics like Casablanca, Romeo and Juliet or Gone with the Wind (book or movie). And I thought someone’s suggestion of Beauty and the Beast was pretty inspired – I enjoy a love story where the falling in love part happens before the make-over. If you fall for someone after they’ve been beautified, the validity of your feelings gets called into question [cough, My Fair Lady, Cinderella, etc., cough, cough.]
Still, I have to say that if we’re talking ALL TIME GREATEST love stories, the kind that demands all caps, only two come to mind.
Buff and Angel
Before Twilight and True Blood there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer – the greatest vampire love story ever written. What has become a clichéd, teen angst-ridden theme seems somehow more beautiful and unique in the hands of Joss Whedon. A vampire cursed with a soul, tortured by the brutality of his past, in love with a slayer, the one person destined to kill him. Two lovers never able to be together without risking the very soul that differentiates him from other demons and allows him to feel love. It’s both tragic and beautiful. Of course my opinion could be colored by my Whedonian obsession and childhood nostalgia (Buffy was my middle school hero), but to this day I still believe Buffy and Angel’s story is one of the greatest love story of all time.
Spoilers. In 2029, Kyle Reese was given a photograph of Sarah Connor by her son, John. He fell in love with Sarah, staring at her photo, and traveled back in time to protect her, unknowingly conceiving a child in the one night they had together. A child that would later become the leader of the resistance . . . John Connor. It’s a heartbreakingly beautiful love story – one that follows the paradoxical rules of time travel. And one that rips my heart right out each time I watch it. Now that is the mark of a great love story.
“I came across time for you Sarah. I love you. I always have.” Beautiful.
And those are the two love stories I consider the greatest of all times. Some might question why tragic love stories are often the greatest, but that's a question for another day . . .