Film can be one of the most effective artistic mediums when it comes to teaching lessons about any given writer’s morals or beliefs. The art form is often used to send messages and teachings about a specific topic, and perhaps no topic is more commonly explored than that of love.
Love is a theme that can be found scattered throughout the entire history of practically any form or style, and many artists have used their work to teach lessons of love to their audiences. The idea of love can be explored and portrayed in so many unique and extraordinary ways, and this list is meant to highlight films that explore the theme creatively and exceptionally.
The following films are ones that are not only great on their own, but they also provide the viewer with a lesson of love that can be taken away and interpreted during and after their viewing.
1. Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)
Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name was one of the most acclaimed and celebrated films of the past year. A primary reason for this is the fantastic lesson of love it teaches. The film follows a teenager, Elio, spending a summer in Italy with his parents. He then forms a relationship with one of his father’s students.
The film takes its time showing the slow progression of the relationship from a friendship to a romance, and this allows for both the happiness and sadness experienced by the characters to be significant and impactful.
One of the most powerful scenes of the film comes towards the end, when Elio’s father delivers a monologue about the power and importance of love. It is here where one of the film’s many lessons of love is revealed: the importance of feeling. As Elio’s father states in his monologue, “To make yourself feel nothing, so as not to feel anything; what a waste.” All feelings, no matter good or bad, hold great importance and are vital to humanity, and suppressing sadness is a waste of humanity and emotion.
This is one of the multiple lessons taught by Call Me By Your Name, and it is one of the many reasons the film resonated with so many viewers.
2. Three Colors: Red (Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1994)
Any film in Krzysztof Kieślowski’s masterful Three Colors Trilogy contain lessons of love, but perhaps the finest example of the three can be found in the trilogy’s final film: Red.
What makes Three Colors: Red such a unique love story is that the main couple never actually meets throughout the entirety of the film. The story follows a model, Valentine, and her bizarre friendship with a retired judge who listens to people’s private phone calls. The aforementioned relationship in which the couple never meets, however, is between Valentine and her next door neighbor.
Throughout the film, Kieślowski teases the audience with the two love interests meeting and forming a relationship, but this never happens. Instead the film stays focused on the unseen relationships between people. To further emphasize this point, constant similarities are found between the lives of Valentine’s neighbor and the former judge, leaving the audience to believe they may be different versions of the same person.
Kieślowski focuses on the unknown and subconscious connections between people who may have never met, and he endorses a belief in soulmates through his film. Three Colors: Red teaches the lesson that love is formed through connections of the soul and subconscious, and your soulmate is out there for you to find.
3. Beginners (Mike Mills, 2010)
Mike Mills’ Beginners is one of the quirkiest and most unique films of the past decade. The film tells two parallel love stories nonlinearly, one between the main character Oliver and a French actress, Anna, and another between Oliver’s father, who came out as gay after the death of his wife, and his younger boyfriend.
What makes Beginners so unique is the way that it tells its story. The film runs completely on its own rhythm, telling its story through narration, flashbacks, and even a hint of surrealism. Because of this, the message of Beginners becomes almost completely subjective, and often differs entirely from each viewers interpretation.
To many people, the message of the film is about acceptance, as Oliver must learn to accept the new person his father has revealed himself to be, and Oliver’s father must come to terms with his own death. Others believe the lesson of the film is about commitment, as it is the main focus of the love story between Oliver and Anna. It is this flexible lesson of love that makes Beginners such a unique and enjoyable film that everyone should experience.
4. The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015)
Yorgos Lanthimos has established himself as one of the most unique and creative filmmakers of the past decade, and there is no film that better exemplifies this than The Lobster. The Lobster’s lesson of love is delivered through the film’s biting satire. The film tells the story of a man is sent to a hotel after being left by his wife. At this dystopian singles hotel, residents have 45 days to find a soulmate before they are transformed into an animal of their choosing.
This offbeat story is only used as a messenger of Lanthimos’ social commentary on modern love. In the film, characters’ “soulmates” are ones who have similar ailments or disabilities as them, and it is the only way for two people to be compatible. Characters even go as far to blind themselves in order to be able to be fully compatible with their soulmate.
Yorgos Lanthimos is parodying both the colossal weight placed on relationships in modern society and the treatment of single people as social outcasts. Lanthimos is also making fun of the obsessive desire to find a partner you are entirely compatible with and not accepting anything less. Yorgos Lanthimos uses this satire, in The Lobster and many of his other films, as an effective way to teach the audience his perspective on love in modern society.
5. Paris, Texas (Wim Wenders, 1984)
No film quite displays the lengths at which one will go for love better than Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas. The film follows Travis, an amnesiac who is discovered wondering the desert after having disappeared for four years. After regaining most of his memory, he attempts to reconnect with his son and find his missing wife.
The primary moral of the film is the lesson of sacrificing yourself for the ones you love (spoilers ahead). At the end of the film Travis allows his child and wife to reunite, believing he is the one who separated them. He then leaves to live a life on his own, away from the people he loves. Travis separates himself from the ones he loves because he believes it will make their lives better. The lesson that not everyone receives a happy ending is one that is critically important to display as it is the closest to reality.
The film is not particularly endorsing the decision Travis makes, but it is clear that Wim Wenders and screenwriter Sam Shepard believe that sacrifice can be an important part of love and relationships, and this can be an vital lesson to learn.