by Anthony King
There is no greater feeling in life than love. To love someone so unconditionally to the point of obsession, whether a lover, a child, a sibling, parent, or friend, is undeniably the greatest feeling a human will ever experience. There is one word that I believe sums up love perfectly: magical. Love is magical. The devotion and protection and empathy created by love can only happen because of magic. There's no other way. And these two movies sum up the magic of love perfectly.
We start the evening off with I Married a Witch from 1942 directed by Rene Clair. The film begins in the 17th century with a Monty Python-esque stake burning of Daniel (Cecil Kellaway) and his daughter Jennifer (Veronica Lake), both accused of witchcraft. Just before their death, they put a curse upon the descendants of Jonathan Wooley (Fredric March), stating that no Wooley will ever be happily in love. We fast forward through the years and other Wooley men (all played by March) and their loveless marriages until landing on Wallace Wooley (still March) on the eve of his marriage while attending a campaign dinner for his bid as governor. The tree that grew in the place of the stake burning is split by lightning outside the party, freeing the spirits of Daniel and Jennifer in the form of smoke. Jennifer convinces her father to give her a body so she can torment Wallace. Though she succeeds in her teasing and prodding of the current Wooley, Jennifer soon falls in love with Wallace.
We follow one magical film with another in Norman Jewison's 1987 masterpiece, Moonstruck. I say masterpiece because it is in my top three favorite films of all time. I watch it at least once a year and usually I'll watch it twice in one sitting. Moonstruck is about Loretta (Cher), a middle-aged woman who has just settled for a perfectly fine suitor, Johnny (Danny Aiello). Before they get married Johnny needs to fly to Sicily to say goodbye to his dying mother. He asks Loretta to invite his brother to the wedding; a brother he hasn't spoken to for five years. Loretta goes to see the brother, Ronny (Nicolas Cage), and discovers he's a bit of a nutcase. She falls in love with the nutcase, though, and thus begins Loretta's navigation through the tricky world of love.
The “magic” in Moonstruck comes in the form of a story told by Loretta's uncle about a night her father (Vincent Gardenia) was courting her mother (Olympia Dukakis) and how big and bright the moon was that night. That moon, the uncle says, causes people to fall in love. And that moon just so happens to be shining the night Loretta and Ronny first sleep together. Again, pure fiction, but I get lost in the magical fairytale-ness of it all. It's stories like this that are a great reminder (especially right now) about how damn lucky I am to have a wife like Bobbie.
Love is magical. Plain and simple. And it doesn't just have to be a romantic-type of love. Love between friends and family contains magic, too. It's fun to see that type of magic in movies and then realize you have that magic in your own life.