Romance is one of the main topics of cinema; many romantic films have been made and there are many romantic scenes. Here is a list with wonderfully crafted scenes that capture a specific moment of romanticism or a specific kind of love.
These scenes are part of great films and serve different functions in each of them. This list is not in order since it is impossible to compare scenes that display different kinds of love; it is just a mosaic of great scenes with the common romantic tone in them. Please enjoy.
1. Ending from “City Lights”
What has not been said about Chaplin’s masterpiece? The last scene of the 1931 classic of the silent era is not only one of the most beautifully romantic scenes in film history, it is also one of the greatest moments in Chaplin’s filmography. It displays his noble and human candor, which allowed him to make such beautiful melodramas.
This ending scene is not close to the conclusion of the relationship between the blind girl and Charlot, who has given her everything he has without hoping from anything in return; we do not get a grasp on the future of their relationship or even if there will be one.
What Chaplin delivers is a moment in which the blind girl recognizes the man who has given himself to her through the touch of his hands, the only way in which they were able to “look” at each other. The ambiguity of the iconic smile that Chaplin delivers at the end of the scene is one of the most romantic and pure gestures in the history of cinema.
2. Troy Comes Back from “Reality Bites”
Some of the most beautifully romantic scenes in cinema reduce themselves to two people talking or touching; the power of the scene much of the time is built through the film and it moves us because we know the characters and what the moment means for them. In this scene of Ben Stiller’s film, we witness two characters who finally decide to tell each other how they feel about each other, getting over the traditional pride that stands in many relationships.
The character of Troy is one who is used to deliver great intellectual conclusions, but in this moment is not able to do so; he barely can speak. Ethan Hawke delivers some of his best acting to create this emotional state. The movement of the scene is simple and yet extremely effective to summarize the whole arc of the two characters, and to conclude, they stand with some distance and finally get close to touch each other.
3. Train Departure from “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”
The idyllic young love of Genevieve and Guy portrayed by the great Jacques Demy crosses a tragic threshold in this scene. Guy is forced to fulfill his duty as a soldier while Genevieve stays in Cherbourg. Those of us who know the film know how tragic this departure is and the consequences it will have for the future of both.
This scene is especially painful due to the way in which Demy constructs the world in which the two young lovers live; it is a world of hope and romanticism, full of music and hope for the future. To see these two lovers being separated makes this scene one of the most painful and romantic ones in film history.
4. Storm from “Sunrise”
F. W. Murnau was deeply influenced by the romantic tradition of Germany; this can be seen in the expressive atmospheres that he built for his films. In this scene, a man whose love for his wife has been restored faces the inclemency of a storm. He tries to keep the boat from sinking, and to save the life of his wife.
The staging of Murnau is extremely powerful; the two lovers hold each other in the middle of a powerful storm that is much stronger than them. The power of this scene is also an effect of the background in which the man has been tempted by another woman, but at this moment he has decided to stay loyal to his wife.
5. New Year’s Eve from “When Harry Met Sally”
This scene starts on New Year’s Eve with a Frank Sinatra song in the background and a couple who hasn’t been able to express their feelings through the film. Here is another scene that reduces itself two people talking and touching each other.
The sincerity with which Harry speaks to Sally including the reasons why he loves her is very funny, but also romantic. When they are finally being sincere, the crowd starts singing Au lang syne, and after they kiss, they try to get the sense of the song, but Sally concludes by saying that it is about old friends.
6. The Man on the Moon from “Pierrot le Fou”
From the several atmospheres that Godard creates in “Pierrot Le Fou,” the one of this beach is the most romantic. The light of the sun soaks Marianne and Ferdinand while they also see the moon; the unreality of the scene is also in the strange poses of the lovers. They are having a conversation about a lonely man who is the only inhabitant of the moon.
Ferdinand uses this man as an analogy to tell Marianne how he is attracted to her, and soon the scene takes an erotic turn. The tragic nature of these two lovers is perfectly portrayed in this scene where they are alone at the beach where they can see both the sun and the moon.
7. A Secret Goodbye from “Lost in Translation”
The simplicity of this scene is its greatest virtue; after the several episodes that Bob and Charlotte have experienced together and the conversations they have had, there is no more that they can say to each other, but we should not listen to it. We are just witness to a hug in the middle of a moving crowd, an image that reveals the nature of their relationship.
Gestures are most of the time much more meaningful and honest than words, and through the hugs and kisses that these characters give each other in this departure, their emotional state and the way they feel for each other expresses much more than just words.
8. Come Here from “Before Sunrise”
The first half of this scene consists of a single two shot where Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy listen to “Come Here” by Kath Bloom. The charm is precisely in this half of the scene where we only see them listening to music and being with each other. They search for each other’s glances and dance uncomfortably, but at the same time we perceive that they are both comfortable with each other.
This scene has a big romantic charge while it keeps a naturalism in its events that is rarely displayed by filmmakers; it has to be Linklater the one to do it.
9. Dancing from “Moonrise Kingdom”
The adventure of two naive kids in love who run away from their homes is perfectly summarized in this scene where they dance in their underwear at the beach. The music is romantic, and also the atmosphere; what breaks it is the awkward kids who neither know how to dance, neither to kiss. But it is this ignorance that makes their love seem so innocent and feel so beautiful.
The atmosphere of being at the coast of a lake in the woods, away from everyone and being chased makes their love even more beautiful and compelling. In the moment they kiss, we are completely empathetic with the two strange kids.
10. Old Barn from “All That Heaven Allows”
The “forbidden” love of Ron Kirby and Cary Scott has its most romantic moment when Cary visits the barn that Ron has repaired for her; he has made a comfortable home of the old place and put together an antique that Cary believed to be lost for good. Douglas Sirk creates a deeply romantic atmosphere in this warm barn that contrasts with the cold weather of the outside that cast a blue light over the lovers.
This is the perfect scenario for a conversation where they discuss the future of their relationship and talk about the nature of their love. An extremely well-crafted romantic scene from the master of melodrama Douglas Sirk.