‘The Notebook’: A Tale of Unconditional, Everlasting Love

By Therese Gardner, Edited by Olivia Norwood

Based on a novel written by Nicholas Sparks, one of the world’s most beloved romance storytellers, The Notebook has easily become a timeless story of young love. The lovers are named Allie Nelson and Noah Calhoun. As young lovers they are played by Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. As older lovers, they are played by Gena Rowlands and James Garner. The story intercuts between the same couple at two different points in their lives: passionate teenagers at the brink of the rest of their lives, and then as older people fading away in the midst of getting older and her dealing with Alzheimer’s.

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Directed by Nick Cassavetes, the story is narrated by an older Noah (James Garner) as he tells a story from his notebook of two people who fell madly in love. He reads the story to a fellow patient at a nursing home who has forgotten most memories as a result of the onset of Alzheimer’s.

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A classic love tale of a poor boy and a rich girl falling in love against all odds. Allie is a rich kid, spending the summer at her family’s mansion in North Carolina while Noah is a local poor boy working at a sawmill to support himself and his father. He’s a hardworking, smart, poetic teenage boy working to figure things out for himself with the support of his father.

 

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Noah (Ryan Gosling) notices Allie (Rachel McAdams) while at a summer carnival and, so their summer love affair begins. The two spend many moments together dancing in the streets, running through the woods, and experiencing the heat of the summer alongside one another. All appears to be going in their favor, until Allie returns home one evening with Noah in hand. Allie’s parents disapprove of Noah immediately and forbid her from seeing him again. Allie chases after Noah, as he’s leaving her parent’s house where an argument ensues and the two break up. The following morning, Allie’s mother, Anne, suddenly announces the family is leaving South Carolina. So, Allie tries to find Noah to tell him the news. When she can’t find him, she asks one of his best friends, Fin, to tell Noah that she loves him. After Noah receives the message, he returns to her home to find she is nowhere to be found.

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As a result, Noah writes to Allie every day for 365 days, but Allie’s mother, Anne, hides all the letters such that Allie never sees them. Noah enlists with Fin to fight in World War II, where Fin is killed in battle. Allie volunteers in a hospital for wounded soldiers where she meets a captain. The two fall in love, and after a couple of years of dating, the two get engaged with full support from her parents, as he is young and has money. Shortly after, Noah returns home from the war to buy the abandoned house him and Allie found long ago. While in town, Noah happens to be walking by a restaurant where he sees Allie kissing Lon.  

Noah convinces himself that if he renovates the house, Allie will return to him. Allie sees a picture of Noah in the newspaper alongside the house and decides to take a trip to Seabrook to find Noah living in the house. The two rekindle their relationship, until Anne shows up to warn Allie that Lon has followed her. Anne recounts her love for a young man from her teenage years that she still thinks of and, in doing so, finally gives Allie the letters that Noah had written. Allie confesses to Lon, and decides that she belongs with Noah and so returns to the home.

It is then revealed that the patient from the beginning of the movie, is Allie and that Duke is Noah. Allie had told Duke at the onset of her illness to continue to reread their journals to help her remember their past memories together. Noah suffers a heart attack while Allie is sedated after having a panic attack. Noah visits Allie in the middle of the night, and both Noah and Allie pass away holding each other while sleeping.

An emotionally, yet romantic movie that many are attracted to, as they can place themselves into the story and live out its emotion. A timely reflection of the power of a deep, everlasting love. Noah’s commitment and love transcends the emotional and physical grief caused by Allie’s Alzheimer’s – his unconditional love for Allie sustains them.  

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‘La La Land’: An Homage to Old Hollywood

By Julia Wilson, Edited by Anthony Peyton

For this week’s Time Warp Tuesday, the film we’ll be talking about isn’t very old, but the references it makes date as far back as 1935.

I’m sure when you hear about the film La La Land you probably think of the truly iconic moment in Academy Award history when La La Land was announced as the Best Picture winner, only for someone to come up and say moments later that Moonlight had actually won Best Picture.

Although I could talk all day about the Oscar drama surrounding this film, today I want to talk about its many references to old Hollywood musicals, why they’re there, and what makes them such a key element of the magic of this film.

La La Land is a love story between Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), two struggling artists with big dreams. Mia dreams of one day becoming an actress, and Sebastian dreams of opening up his own jazz club and reviving the genre. The story is sweet and relatable to any struggling artists out there, but what really sets this film apart is its attempt to make an old Hollywood musical today.

Throughout the film there are several references to old Hollywood musicals, but probably the most prominent reference is to the 1952 classic Singin’ in the Rain starring Hollywood legends Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds. Some allusions to the 1952 classic in La La Land include Ryan Gosling swinging on the lamppost during “A Lovely Night” as Gene Kelly does in “Singin’ in the Rain” and large dance scenes in La La Land that mirror some of those in Singin’ in the Rain. In the image below, the top is from La La Land and the bottom is from Singin’ in the Rain.

Singin
Top: Courtesy of Lionsgate, Bottom: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

One of the most memorable scenes in La La Land is during the song A Lovely Night”. Although this scene has references to many old Hollywood films, the general concept is heavily inspired by the 1935 film Top Hat starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Specifically, the song “Isn’t this a Lovely Day (to be Caught in the Rain)” where its concept of a couple whose dialogue tells you they’re bickering, but through the song and dance you see that there is actually love there really inspired director and writer Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), as he describes in his interview with PBS NewsHour. You can see the similarities below, with the top image from La La Land and the bottom image from Top Hat.

A Lovely Night
Top: Courtesy of Lionsgate, Bottom: Courtesy of RKO Radio Pictures

Another classic Hollywood allusion is to the film Broadway Melody of 1940 which starred Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell. In that film Astaire and Powell dance on a starry looking stage, and a very similar image appears during the “Epilogue” scene in La La Land. This can be seen below with the top image from La La Land and the bottom image from Broadway Melody of 1940.

Broadway Melody
Top: Courtesy of Lionsgate, Bottom: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Some of the other classic Hollywood films referenced in La La Land include Rebel Without A Cause starring James Dean and Natalie Wood, Funny Face starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire, and Bob Fosse’s film Sweet Charity starring Shirley MacLaine. Below you can see side by side images of La La Land and Rebel Without A CauseFunny Face, and Sweet Charity.

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Left: Courtesy of Lionsgate, Right: Courtesy of Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, and Universal Pictures

 

So why did Chazelle choose to make a film such as La La Land? As he describes in his interview with PBS NewsHour, ever since he fell in love with old Hollywood musicals he really wanted to try and see how you could make one today. He goes on to describe how these musicals had him “reveling in what only movies can do”, and how he loved the idea of telling a story through sound and image, opposed to dialogue, which is something no other medium could do.

The amazing thing about La La Land is it revived the magic of film that we haven’t really felt since the days of old Hollywood. Since then we as a society have gotten used to the tricks, CGI, and typical movie structure that we see today, and lost the magic and wonder film used to bring. By combining stunning cinematography, beautiful music, and of course allusions to old Hollywood classics Chazelle has brought that magic back with La La Land.