When I was a child, Valentine’s Day [Dia de los enamorados] was very complicated for me. Mostly because I couldn’t pronounce it in Spanish. So instead of saying “enamorados” I said “morados.” That first syllable was not so disposable since it made the difference between lovers and purple people. Yet, it’s curious that even as a child I wanted to expand the typical notion of love. And in the spirit of list-making, here are my favorite interpretations of the subject:
1. Best explanation of love: “Origin of Love” from Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I’m a big fan of anytime animation attempts to conquer complicated ideas like “love.” The song is really beautiful and does a great job, I feel, of describing where the urge to love originates.
2. Love according to Shakespeare: For our friend from Stratford-upon-Avon, “love” was a common theme in his work, as evidenced by his love story Romeo and Juliet and the epic moment when the star-crossed lovers meet. Another film, Shakespeare in Love, explores the the idea of a love story within the master’s life and reflects the inevitable end of many romances.
3. The grand gesture: But enough bummers. The best part of any love story is the grand gesture — a moment to take chances, walk across the hall, and finally hold Angela Chase’s hand as depicted in this scene (called the most romantic in television history by TV Guide) from My So-Called Life. In Big Fish, Ewan McGregor blows Jared Leto out of the water in a series of sweet and whimsical gestures. Sometimes, to win the girl, it’s a matter of running through a forest and jumping into a lake as Freddie does to fetch Effy in Skins.
4. Love without words: Sometimes, you don’t need to say anything at all to communicate affection (as in Amelie), longing (as in Reality Bites), or playfulness (as in Love Story). All you need is two people and great music.
5. Love with words: When you’ve written a letter like Ludwig van Beethoven did for his Immortal Beloved, the words are magic and merit repeated listening. Especially when set to the Emperor Concerto, wow.
6. Love between friends and family: Of course, on this most romantic of days, we should never forget the people who stick with us and are an often unrecognized source of love. There really must be no greater sight than people watching at an airport arrivals area. Call me a sap, but the end scene of Love Actually gets me every time.