Sunday, April 27, 2008


Before Sunrise is one of my favorite films. Jesse and Celine meet on a Eurail train, and in the glow of a mutual attraction, disembark at Vienna to spend a day (and night) together, before resuming their regularly scheduled lives in America and France. That one day is a beautiful gift, an unlikely improv, especially for being so sweetly ephemeral.

In the scene above, a poet approaches the couple as they walk the length of the Danube, offering to write them a poem incorporating a word of their choice, in exchange for money. Celine chooses "milkshake." He scratches off something in two minutes.

I love the spontaneity that threads the movie, and the related challenge laid down in this clip. But I'm slow. Which is why I stuck with haiku. It still took me five minutes, though.

Vanilla pulse points
Sweating out summer sunbeams
Milkshake to his brain

What do you think: does time determine a relationship's success? Can such a transient pairing, or poem, attain the kind of "quality" that we respect in longer couplings, or works?

I'm not sure . . . but I know I love this movie.

[Video courtesy of pici1]


Aine said...

I'm not surprised this one of your favorite movies... :) I loved it, too. It's been a few years since I saw it. Maybe I need to put it on my list again.

I'm becoming jaded as I age though. I don't think such transience can work for the long term. Perhaps it's just my midlife phase, but I now see that romance is easy to find, it's mature love that is hard to attain. Not everyone is capable of that, and it requires a lot of work. Anyone can fall in love with the shadow that is presented upon first meetings. To know how to "love the one you're with" is truly magical.

Billy said...

I agree with Aine. Falling in love is not terribly hard. Chemistry and infatuation--nothing wrong with them of course--rule at first, but time must prove that there is something deeper.

Sarah Hina said...

Yes, I am a tad predictable, aren't I, Aine? ;)

And you should rent the sequel, Before Sunset if you haven't already. It's Jesse and Celine, 9 years later. Just as good, but in a different, more melancholy way.

I agree with both you and Billy about romance vs. commitment. But for these two (and from having watched the sequel), I think they became committed to this shadow romance, for all the years after Vienna. Nothing was ever going to live up to that day for them. Which is also kind of sad. But sometimes the connection pierces those shadows--at least in our minds--and when that happens, even time can't blunt it entirely.

Anonymous said...

The poem captures it. I could analyze it, but I won't. Romance is like that. It's like those deep, deep ocean fish. Secretive. Beautiful. If you haul them to the surface, however, they disintegrate, ruined.

It may be delusional, but so is human existence. Viruses are clear, simple, and logical. We are not. The emotions of that day will stay with those people their entire lives, and there is power in that.

I'm glad that someone, even in the context of fiction, captured that moment.

Hoodie said...

I think that love like that exists. I'm not even opposed to calling it love. But there needs to be more words in the English language to define the different types of love.

The difference between that kind of love and true and lasting relationships built on time and mutual struggle is the same as the difference between pleasure and happiness. They make look the same on the surface, but one is paper thin while the other is thick and unbreakable.

Sarah Hina said...

Me too, Jason. And your underwater analogy is truer and lovelier than any milkshake poem I could conjure in ten, or even twenty, minutes. ;)

I think we're tapping into the same sentiment here. It may be a pretty delusion on their part, but countries have been overthrown for less. And certainly, hearts.

Hoodie, I agree that this is love. I guess that's the gist of what I'm trying to get at. Love casts a wide net, throbs through many incarnations, and I'm not sure that it should be judged by the hand of time. Or whether we should even attempt to weigh or categorize it. I guess we should just be grateful to be snagged at all.

Thanks so much for stopping by! I really liked what you had to say. :)

Jaye Wells said...

I loved that movie.

ChrisEldin said...

Oh God, that is beautiful!! I listened to it twice, because I've never seen the movie (Now I will!)

Sarah, I want to give you a word. It's this: Strand

Please write me a poem!!

Beth said...

Like Aine, I am not surprised this is one of your favorite films. I don't think time has anything to do with the initial feelings of love, but I do believe real love is not romantic or fluffy ... it's gritty and everlasting.

(and thanks to you I'll have that silly "Milkshake" song in my head the rest of the day

Sarah Hina said...

Every time I watch it, Jaye, I never want it to end. Which is fitting.

I was hoping to reach someone who hadn't seen the film, Chris! So glad you'll check it out.

And I'm up for the poem. ;)

I think real love is romantic, Beth. But you're right--it contains some grittiness, too.

Oops. Sorry about the Milkshake song! ;)

Vesper said...

A beautiful movie.

The "quality" you're mentioning is very relative, I think. Each person gives it another "shape".

Sarah Hina said...

So true, Vesper. Love is so subjective, of course, and as malleable or rigid as the individuals celebrating it.

Thanks for coming by. :)