Happy Valentine’s Day 2

Ok, one last note on Valentine’s Day. Nearly 20 years ago, I was at the movie junket for “The Notebook.” There is always a dual boo-hooray factor to Nicholas Sparks’ books and films. I get it. Nevertheless, give me a moment to recap.
“The Notebook” portrays a steamy 1940s summer romance between Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. He senses the destiny of a lifetime together. She thinks he’s crazy. Nevertheless, she is wooed by his charm. It is red-hot teenage infatuation that peels the paint — that is, until family meddling and World War II tear the young couple asunder.
In the film, the fairy tale romance is read aloud each day by a man (James Garner) who comes to visit an Alzheimer’s patient (Gena Rowlands) in a nursing home (thus the photo). Each visit reveals more of the combustible love story as he faithfully reads to her each day. We see the way that she engages the story as if it was familiar, battling the ruthless effects of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Whether you’re a Sparks fan or not, the movie was about enduring and passionate love that burns brightly with flames at the outset and ends up graduating to white-hot coals that last a lifetime. There is an everlastingness about it, a certain mysticism, an unmistakable magnetism, and an undying attraction that carries on to the exit gate of life.

At that time, Ryan Gosling was 23-years-old. For him, the movie carried with it a fantastical element. “I felt like it was kind of a fairy tale, but an interesting one,” he said. “I don’t know anyone who has necessarily had a romance quite like this.”
On the other hand, veteran actor James Garner was 76 when I met him. [Yes, I was a fan boy.] The Rockford Files/Maverick mega-star knew a few things about life (he died 10 years later at 86). At the time, he proudly reported that he had been married to the same woman for 48 years. When I told him about Gosling’s point of view, Garner responded, “I don’t see it like that at all. No, I see it as true to life.”
When asked for any advice on how to make love work, Garner said: “I think that it is respect for the other person. And after you live with someone for a while, that love has grown into something else other than that physical urge. It has grown into companionship. What [the characters] Noah and Allie have was that enduring kind of love and it consumed them.” [I’ve seen it. My own parents were together through thick and thin for 60 years.]
After the men gave their perspectives, I was most interested in hearing from Rachel McAdams. She was asked if the movie was true to life or a fairy tale. “I believe this because my parents have it. I grew up in a house with two people who love each other very much and still do,” she said. “It is so great to watch them grow old together. They know they’ve got it and they are not going to let it go. It is kind of a curse, because I won’t settle for less.”
Once again, whether you’re a fan or not, “The Notebook” was not a romantic fantasy created by the screen writer’s imagination. In fact, the story was inspired by a visit with Nicholas Sparks’ wife’s elderly grandparents who grew old in love. Whether you gave it a thumbs up or down, the movie set out to portray the kind of affection and longsuffering that marked the enduring relationships of a previous generation. Till death do us part, indeed.
Happy Valentine’s Day. All the best.

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