The 20 Best Love Triangle Films of All Time
10. Empire of Passion (Nagisa Oshima, 1978)
In this erotic-horror Jidaigeki film, a man can’t resist a married woman erotically, and then he decides to have her regardless. In front of his sexual power, even that woman can’t help falling for him.
Then, her husband becomes a big burden to their love; he is killed by them. However, they don’t get married, afraid that people might get suspicious. But deep inside, they feel too much distress and guilt, which are shown in a ghost of that husband. Director Nagisa Oshima has used this ghost, as though it were psychological rather than supernatural.
9. A Heart in Winter (Claude Sautet, 1992)
Camille (Emmanuelle Beart) leaves her boyfriend after she falls in love with his best friend, Stephane (Daniel Auteuil), in this romantic drama where love and other feelings are expressed through the music of a violin rather than images and dialogues. Stephane is a lonely violin restorer who is commissioned to produce an instrument for Camille, a violinist.
After their frequent meetings, her love toward him becomes deeper and deeper, which leads her to leave her boyfriend. These two best friends fight over her, but she will be in even a more difficult situation after she finds out that Stephane will never return her feelings. Not that he is homosexual or sexually impotent, but he simply can’t feel the same way.
8. Casque d’Or (Jacques Becker, 1952)
Based on the infamous love triangle between the prostitute Amelie Elie and the Apache gang leaders Manda and Leca, this film has modified some facts. Here, a criminal in a local syndicate falls in love with a gorgeous woman, who doesn’t just dislike him, but hates him.
At one point, she meets a humble carpenter and instantly falls in love with him. Their love affair arouses intense jealousy and anger in heart of the criminal, which led him to make a plan to kill the carpenter. Finally, they end up dueling with each other, with tragic results. Famous for depicting his character’s activities very minutely and meticulously, Jacques Becker’s romantic film has remained one of the greatest films of all time.
7. Tess (Roman Polanski, 1979)
A very beautiful and kind-hearted girl named Tess, of a poor family that was linked from aristocracy at one point, is forced to lose her virginity to a rich and aristocratic person. He then goes to the city, unknown of the fact that she has become pregnant; she gives a birth to a child who later dies. Another god-fearing man, knowing nothing of her past, falls in love with Tess. However, he learns the truth on the night they were married, as Tess confesses her past. A sad twist comes next.
The aristocratic person returns and begs Tess’s hand in marriage, no matter the consequences. What does she do next? Who does she chose? Watch this immensely mesmerizing film where the beauty, character, struggle and grief of Tess is depicted beautifully.
6. Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)
A very interesting and strange romantic relationship is depicted in this dreamlike, mysterious, impenetrable, immensely, hypnotic and intensely poetic film. Shot entirely in the chateau, nearly the entire film is told in a voiceover by its male lead. He starts to claim that he and female lead had spent romantic moments together the previous year at Marienbad, and they had agreed to run away together. No matter how lovely and poetically he claims to be, she denies them continuously.
There is a black wall between their love; a man who may be her lover or husband or at least a controlling factor in her life continuously defeats the male lead in a specific game. When this man learns about the abstract affair between the male and female leads, he kills her – or does he? The events of this film may or may not have happened, just like in a dream. However, one thing is certain: all those events and scenes affect us romantically in our hearts.
5. The Piano (Jane Campion, 1993)
A mute married woman with a young daughter slowly falls in love with a man while teaching him to play piano, but she can’t openly express her feelings.
On the other hand, we think that the man’s openness toward her will make it easy for her to develop their relationship, but due to her repressed love and sexual desire, she doesn’t know how to cope with that type of situation. So, for a time, their relationship becomes even more complicated. Her non-romantic and sexually uninteresting husband starts to become suspicious and at one point, he sees them having sex.
Getting furious, he cut his wife’s finger so that she can never play piano again. Even worse, he sends those chopped fingers to her lover. What happens next in this immensely romantic and hypnotic film? Watch it and see.
4. Ugetsu (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953)
A poor village family, who dreams of becoming rich by selling their pottery, is suddenly attacked by a felonious group. They manage to escape from them, and the family patriarch goes to the city to sell pottery. His wife and child remain in the village waiting for him to return, thinking they will live in hiding from the group that attacked them.
On the other hand, an aristocratic woman in the city falls in love with the potter and with the help of her dignity, beauty and property, she makes him live with her as a husband figure. However, deep inside, he feels guilt as he thinks about his wife and child living in that ruined village. You can only imagine what happens next in this surrealist horror Jidaigeki film.
3. Sunrise (F.W. Murnau, 1927)
A city woman on vacation falls in love with a married man who has a child. After they develop an attraction to each other, she asks him to kill his wife by drowning her in the sea. As he gets mentally prepared for this act, he starts traveling with his wife in the boat. At first, she remains oblivious to his heinous plan, but she slowly begins to suspect his motives. On the other hand, the husband realizes that his heart won’t allow him to kill her.
Unfortunately, the wife can no longer trust her husband, and stubbornly keeps her decision to completely ignore him, no matter how much he beseeches her to forgive him. On the other hand, the city woman is desperately waiting for him. How does the story develop? What do they do? Watch this great romantic silent film to find out.
2. Jules and Jim (Francois Truffaut, 1962)
In this famous film, two best friends named Jules and Jim end up meeting a freedom-loving, promiscuous and capricious woman named Catherine, whose beauty, character and attitude toward life instantly attract them to her. Even though they both fall in love with her, Jules takes her to Austria to get married.
After a long time, Jim goes to visit them and he finds out that Jules was severely hurt by Catherine’s numerous love affairs and promiscuity.
As a best friend, Jules wishes for Jim to marry her, especially because he knows of Jim’s feelings toward her. The romantic relationship between Jim and Catherine starts to develop, and they think about getting married, but even that doesn’t work.
1. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)
Set during World War II, this film focuses mainly on the psychology and character of American expatriate Rick (Humphrey Bogart), who is obliged to choose between his love for former girlfriend, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), and helping her husband escape the Vichy-controlled city of Casablanca to continue his fight against the Nazis.
Long before these events, he thought he had been deceived by his girlfriend after they plan to escape together. After a long time, she enters a bar without knowing that it belongs to Rick.
At this point, she is married to a Czech resistance leader (Paul Henreid). Either way, Rick and Ilsa, clear up their misunderstanding and accept they still love each other, but time and conditions have changed everything. They simply have to continue their lives, remaining nostalgic about their former relationship.
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