Recently, a friend and I had a conversation concerning movies that featured a growing relationship between a man and a woman and what really makes them a true romance. There are many films that have a love story up front and center but still they’re not considered a romance. Examples that jump to mind are, Speed, Romancing The Stone, and The Mummy. Don’t believe me? Google them. They're considered action and adventure or thriller.
So what makes one story an epic romance and the other an action story? Let’s compare these two examples; Casablanca and Pearl Harbor.
Casablanca is considered a classic love story, it has been for decades. In fact, if you Google best romance movies of all time, it’s #1 with Gone with the Wind as #2.
I know Casablanca is one of my favorites. I swoon every time I watch Humphrey Bogart, who plays bar owner and freedom fighter, Rick Blaine, clink champagne flutes with Ilsa Lund, played by Ingrid Bergman, and says, “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
The film has a love triangle, so there is lots of conflict.
Later in the film, Rick and Ilsa confess their love and then Rick convinces Ingrid to get on a plane with the 'other man' and leaves him behind to take on the Nazi regime. Not a happy ending, and we all know in today’s romance industry, a HEA is a requirement.
Now, let’s look at Pearl Harbor. While the blurb for the movie reads, Pearl Harbor follows the story of two best friends, Rafe and Danny, and their love lives as they go off to join the war, it’s not considered a romance. With heroes as yummy as Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett, why not?
Like Casablanca, the story centers around a love triangle and both are back dropped by war, the same war. Pearl Harbor even has a tainted HEA. So why is Pearl Harbor not a romance?
IMO, I think it has to do with how much focus is on the romance. There are more action scenes, and certainly they’re more vivid, in Pearl Harbor than there are in Casablanca.
What do you think?