When you’re talking about some of the most romantic movie sequences of all time, everyone has things that instantly come to mind. All you have to say to a fan of recent Bollywood movies is “the gazebo scene,” and they automatically know what you’re talking about: 1998’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai; Rahul and Anjali share a dance to no music, until the tension becomes so heightened that the spell doesn’t break until Anjali sees her engagement ring on her finger and must tear herself away and bolt into the rain. It’s such a memorable moment that Tarun Mansukhani paid homage to it in 2008’s Dostana, having Kunal recreate the gazebo dance in order to woo Neha. I can safely that if any guy ever did that for me, I’d be a goner.
James Cameron’s 1984 classic Terminator has, at its core, the story of Kyle Reese’s deep devotion to Sarah Connor. And while most people quote “I’ll be back,” it’s “I came across time for you,” and “we loved a lifetime’s worth” that I remember more clearly. Battle-weary Kyle losing his virginity to Sarah in a few stolen hours of happiness is achingly gorgeous, and the visual of their clasped hands during the act is, to me, the sharpest image from the film.
Han Solo and Princess Leia’s kiss aboard the Millenium Falcon in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back is famous, but it’s later, in Bespin, that their romance reaches its peak: when their gazes lock just before Han is dropped into carbonite and Leia finally admits she loves him…and he offers up, “I know,” with the last of his cocky bravado. The princess and the smuggler, the most improbable of partners and the most inopportune time for a confession of love, and yet one of the most resonant scenes in the entire trilogy.
Resonant in an altogether different way is how Baby seduces Johnny in 1987’s Dirty Dancing, invading his room with her potent combination of privilege and innocence, asking him to dance with her. Solomon Burke’s “Cry To Me” is one of the sexiest songs on the planet because of them, and I was one of millions of women who fell in love with the late Patrick Swayze all because of Johnny Castle’s confident moves on the dance floor and his vulnerability everywhere else.
What’s the unifying factor in all the examples I’ve brought up? Certainly not a crisp script. Most of these scenes didn’t involve much dialogue and what dialogue there was…wasn’t exactly Shakespearean in nature. The key to romance isn’t pretty words or even good direction and the right music, it’s people whose connection is just that believable. It takes a solid story, fleshed out characters, actors who embody those roles… and just a touch of magic.
And then, if you’re lucky…? Kuch kuch hota hai. Something happens.