There’s no question that love has been one of the most universal cinematic themes since the dawn of the moving picture and that most of the time its all about the two lovers ending up together and disappearing into the sunset. Although sometimes the most compelling love stories are the ones where a couple never gets to have their happily ever after because of some kind of insurmountable obstacle that ensures their relationship is forever doomed. For some reason those always end up being my favourites. These are my top ten doomed movie couples. [Spoilers abound].
Eric Draven and Shelly Webster
Played by: Brandon Lee and Sofia Shinas
Film: The Crow (1994)
The obstacle: Eric and Shelly have been murdered and Eric is a spectre risen from the dead to avenge her
“Shelly Webster: I love you.
Eric Draven: Say that again.
Shelly Webster: I love you.”
Romeo and Juliet
Played by: Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes
Film: Romeo + Juliet (1996)
The obstacle: Their families are at war with one another and Juliet has been promised to someone else
“Juliet: O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name, or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I’ll no longer be a Capulet.
Romeo: Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?
Juliet: ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy, thou art thyself though not a Montague. What is Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man. Oh, what’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet; so Romeo would, were he not Romeo called, retain that dear perfection to which he owes without that title. Romeo, doff thy name! And for thy name, which is no part of thee, take all myself.”
Jack and Rose
Played by: Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet
Film: Titanic (1997)
The obstacle: Not only are Jack and Rose from different worlds but they’re on a ship that is destined to sink
“Rose: I love you, Jack.
Jack: Don’t you do that, don’t say your good-byes. Not yet, do you understand me?
Rose: I’m so cold.
Jack: Listen, Rose. You’re gonna get out of here, you’re gonna go on and you’re gonna make lots of babies, and you’re gonna watch them grow. You’re gonna die an old… an old lady warm in her bed, not here, not this night. Not like this, do you understand me?
Rose: I can’t feel my body.
Jack: Winning that ticket, Rose, was the best thing that ever happened to me… it brought me to you. And I’m thankful for that, Rose. I’m thankful. You must do me this honor. Promise me you’ll survive. That you won’t give up, no matter what happens, no matter how hopeless. Promise me now, Rose, and never let go of that promise.
Rose: I promise.
Jack: Never let go.
Rose: I’ll never let go, Jack. I’ll never let go.”
Brandon Teena and Lana Tisdel
Played by: Hilary Swank and Chloe Sevigny
Film: Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
The obstacle: Brandon is a transgender man and Lana is a straight woman who doesn’t know
“Brandon: “Dear Lana, By the time you read this I’ll be back home in Lincoln. I’m scared of what’s ahead, but when I think of you I know I’ll be able to go on. You were right, Memphis isn’t that far off. I’ll be taking that trip down the highway before too long. I’ll be waiting for you. Love always and forever, Brandon.””
Holden McNeil and Alyssa Jones
Played by: Ben Affleck and Joey Lauren Adams
Film: Chasing Amy (1997)
The obstacle: Alyssa is a lesbian and Holden may or may not be in love with his best friend, Banky
“Alyssa: You know, I didn’t just heed what I was taught, men and women should be together, it’s the natural way, that kind of thing. I’m not with you because of what family, society, life tried to instill in me from day one. The way the world is, how seldom it is that you meet that one person who just *gets* you – it’s so rare. My parents didn’t really have it. There were no examples set for me in the world of male-female relationships. And to cut oneself off from finding that person, to immediately halve your options by eliminating the possibility of finding that one person within your own gender, that just seemed stupid to me. So I didn’t. But then you came along. You, the one least likely. I mean, you were a guy.
Holden: Still am.
Alyssa: And while I was falling for you I put a ceiling on that, because you *were* a guy. Until I remembered why I opened the door to women in the first place: to not limit the likelihood of finding that one person who’d complement me so completely. So here we are. I was thorough when I looked for you. And I feel justified lying in your arms, ’cause I got here on my own terms, and I have no question there was some place I didn’t look. And for me that makes all the difference.
Holden: [pause] Well, can I at least tell people all you needed was some serious deep dicking?”
Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund
Played by: Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman
Film: Casablanca (1942)
The obstacle: She’s married to someone else and he only has enough tickets to get two people out of a war zone
“Rick: Last night we said a great many things. You said I was to do the thinking for both of us. Well, I’ve done a lot of it since then, and it all adds up to one thing: you’re getting on that plane with Victor where you belong.
Ilsa: But, Richard, no, I… I…
Rick: Now, you’ve got to listen to me! You have any idea what you’d have to look forward to if you stayed here? Nine chances out of ten, we’d both wind up in a concentration camp. Isn’t that true, Louie?
Captain Renault: I’m afraid Major Strasser would insist.
Ilsa: You’re saying this only to make me go.
Rick: I’m saying it because it’s true. Inside of us, we both know you belong with Victor. You’re part of his work, the thing that keeps him going. If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.
Ilsa: But what about us?
Rick: We’ll always have Paris. We didn’t have, we, we lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.
Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you.
Rick: And you never will. But I’ve got a job to do, too. Where I’m going, you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of. Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that.
[Ilsa lowers her head and begins to cry]
Rick: Now, now…
[Rick gently places his hand under her chin and raises it so their eyes meet]
Rick: Here’s looking at you kid.”
Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist
Played by: Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal
Film: Brokeback Mountain (2005)
The obstacle: At a time where being gay is a complete taboo, they are both men… married to women
“Ennis Del Mar: I’m gonna tell you this one time, Jack fuckin’ Twist, an’ I ain’t foolin’. What I don’t know – all them things that I don’t know – could get you killed if I come to know them. I ain’t jokin’.
Jack Twist: Yeah well try this one, and I’ll say it just once!
Ennis Del Mar: Go ahead!
Jack Twist: Tell you what, we coulda had a good life together! Fuckin’ real good life! Had us a place of our own. But you didn’t want it, Ennis! So what we got now is Brokeback Mountain! Everything’s built on that! That’s all we got, boy, fuckin’ all. So I hope you know that, even if you don’t never know the rest! You count the damn few times we have been together in nearly twenty years and you measure the short fucking leash you keep me on – and then you ask me about Mexico and tell me you’ll kill me for needing somethin’ I don’t hardly never get. You have no idea how bad it gets! I’m not you… I can’t make it on a coupla high-altitude fucks once or twice a year! You are too much for me Ennis, you sonofawhoreson bitch! I wish I knew how to quit you.
Ennis Del Mar: [crying] Well, why don’t you? Why don’t you just let me be? It’s because of you Jack, that I’m like this! I’m nothin’… I’m nowhere… Get the fuck off me! I can’t stand being like this no more, Jack.”
Robbie Turner and Cecelia Tallis
Played by: James McAvoy and Keira Knightley
Film: Atonement (2007)
The obstacle: Cecelia’s sister falsely accused Robbie of a rape as a young girl
“Robbie Turner: Have you been in touch with your family?
Cecilia Tallis: No I told you I wouldn’t. Leon waited outside the hospital last week. I just pushed past him.
Robbie Turner: Cee, you don’t owe me anything.
Cecilia Tallis: Robbie didn’t you read my letters? Had I been allowed to visit you? Had they let me, every day, I would have been there every day.
Robbie Turner: Yes but, if all we have rests on a few moments in a library three and a half years ago then I am not sure, I don’t know…
Cecilia Tallis: Robbie, look at me, come back, come back to me.”
Johann Friedrich Struensee and Caroline Mathilde
Played by: Mads Mikkelsen and Alicia Vikander
Film: A Royal Affair (2012)
The obstacle: Caroline is a princess married to the king of Denmark and Stuensee is his doctor
“Johann Friedrich Struensee: Do you remember our first night together?
Caroline Mathilde: It feels like we’ve been unhappy ever since.
Johann Friedrich Struensee: I have been happy.
Caroline Mathilde: Come to me tonight?”
Christian and Satine
Played by: Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman
Film: Moulin Rouge (2001)
The obstacle: Satine is a courtesan sold to the highest bidder and Christian is a penniless writer… plus she has TB
“Satine: Besides, I can’t fall in love with anyone
Christian: Can’t… fall… in love? But, a life without love, that’s… terrible…
Satine: No, being on the street, that’s terrible.
Christian: No! Love is like oxygen!
Christian: Love is a many splendored thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love!”