One of the more intriguing titles in my library is Raymond Carver’s collection of short stories, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” I read it years ago and don’t recall if I came away any wiser on the subject of this fundamental human emotion. In any case, as his title suggests, love is a topic of perennial interest, dominating our thoughts, conversations, emotional life, and artistic expression.
Romance novels, of course, revolve around amorous relationships. Music lyrics often chart the progress of love, to say nothing of poetry. Cinema is replete with screenplays about love in its many guises and permutations. And while I’ll never forget love scenes in books, their visual representation on screen, especially if accompanied by the perfect soundtrack, make an indelible impression.
Here are a few of the love scenes from films I have found unforgettable, cinematic moments that get me in the gut every time.
Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard kissing in the rain at the end of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” while her cat nestles between them.
In “Some Like It Hot,” Jack Lemmon being told by his would-be male suitor, “Nobody’s perfect.”
Ralph Fiennes carrying Kristin Scott-Thomas’s lifeless body from The Cave of Winds in “The English Patient.” In that same movie, Juliette Binoche on the pulley system devised by her lover, Naveen Andrews, so she could look at the murals on the chapel ceiling.
Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche as Heathcliff and Catherine in “Wuthering Heights.” Every. Damn. Scene.
Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting in “Romeo and Juliet,” running toward each other before they are secretly married.
Bogie saying goodbye to Bergmann at the end of “Casablanca.”
Ciaran Hinds as Mr. Rochester telling Samantha Morton as Jane Eyre that there are fine strings attached from his heart to hers.
Lastly, my absolutely, positively most unforgettable, poignant scene of all: the final moments of “Cinema Paradiso” when the main character, Salvatore, watches the film of lovers kissing that his beloved mentor, Alfredo, had spliced and edited from censored movies.