When I was little, like eight or nine, I played piano. I had a songbook of popular hits and one of the songs I enjoyed was called Love Story. It had this haunting, sad melody. If I was feeling distraught about something or just moody, playing this song seemed to pull me deeper into my emotions. I didn’t know at the time that Love Story was the theme song to a really sad romantic movie of the same title. My mom must have known, must have seen the movie even, but she never told me about it. Or if she did, it didn’t hold my interest.
So just a few weeks ago, I rented the 1970s film Love Story as a bit of research on the romance genre. It was on multiple lists of all time best romantic films. I recognized the Love Story theme immediately when I was trying to turn off the subtitles, and as the melody connected me with that childhood melancholy, I knew I was in for an emotional rollercoaster.
When the film was over, I immediately went to my husband. Teary-eyed and sniffly, I hugged him, telling him how happy I was to have already had ten wonderful years with him. In other words, this movie played an e minor concerto on my heart strings, rendering me sappy, emotional and aware of the love and happiness in my life.
Is this what we want in a romance? To connect to the love in our own lives? Absolutely. A tragic ending? Occasionally, when done well (Romeo and Juliet for example). As far as tragic love goes, I would never change the ending of Love Story. It is a perfect composition, from the moment they meet in the university library to the father and son passing each other in the turnstile door of the hospital.
But is this what we want most of the time? Um, no. We romantics prefer a happy ending. In fact, if you read through articles and posts on the romance genre, people expect a happy ending. I’m not saying we always want fluff, but we want romance, a good story and happiness.