Perhaps it was fortuitous that I watched both films on consecutive days. In Midnight in Paris, we have the protagonist falling for a woman from another era. They share a single kiss and in that moment, he feels immortal. It is the kind of magic he has never experienced with his fiancee. On the other hand, the protagonists of Before Sunrise have but a single day and night together, before they must part ways. Both films were immensely beautiful and both reiterated the charm of a transient love. The word 'love' does not make an appearance in either relationship but the viewer is aware that they are soulmates. Though I was charmed by these stories, they set me thinking. Why is it that the epic love stories are always tragedies or transient encounters? Is it that a lifelong romance is too mundane and too riddled with familiar roadblocks to make it to the pages of a magnum opus?
There is an element of truth in the conversations that Jesse and Celine have in Before Sunrise. They talk about how relationships go downhill when they last too long. The things you once found endearing about the other person begin to grate on your nerves, says Jesse. Is that true? I have never had a romantic relationship that lasted longer than two years. But I've known several people for much longer than that and I don't love them any less than I did when I first befriended them. We can discount family from this discussion because those are ties wrought by genetics, interdependence and bonding that can never compare to voluntary relationships.
Applying the same logic to moments, I recall the time when I breakfasted at Le Cafe in Pondicherry, with the sea glittering behind my back and my hair blowing in the breeze. If I shut my eyes, I can experience the serenity and the bliss I felt then, with crystal clarity. But how was that moment any superior to the one I am experiencing now? This moment where I sit cross-legged on my bed, with the sun streaming in and these words pouring out of consciousness? What makes some encounters and experiences more special than the others? I believe it is just the connotation we attach to them that makes them more memorable than the rest. That, and the intoxication of knowing that those moments may not return and those people may not be encountered again.
The certainty of seeing my mother in the kitchen each morning, of brushing my teeth and walking down the street outside my house somehow diminishes their charm. Or at least, that's what I glean from several films and novels. I beg to differ, though. In fact, I differ with complete conviction and defiance! I believe that every encounter, every relationship and every moment can be infused with the magic reserved to 'once-in-a-lifetime' occurrences. All it takes is a little imagination. A little attention to detail. A small pause. And the sudden realisation that you simply adore the person you are with. The ground you're standing on. The air you're breathing. And the life you're living. :)