Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Not So Happily Ever After?

by Anna Campbell

A couple of treks to RWA Nationals ago, I watched a film I really liked on the plane. This is rarer than it sounds - I find I'm always a bit on edge when I travel which means I don't settle down and immerse myself in the story. Not only that, but the sound quality is usually bad and you get lovely interruptions like your neighbor wanting to go to the toilet or the captain telling you the engines have failed (actually I'm joking about that - and I hope that continues to be a joke!).

Anyway, I recently got this particular movie out again to watch in more comfortable circumstances and I loved it.

MISS POTTER is the story of Beatrix Potter, the children's author, and the way her life took completely unexpected directions once she started to break free of the restrictions hedging a well brought-up, upper middle-class miss in Edwardian England.

It's a lovely film, if you haven't seen it! Renee Zellweger plays Beatrix and most of the story concentrates on a poignant and very sweet love affair with her publisher Norman Warne (played by the very yummy Ewan McGregor - wonder if he's related to the Mr. McGregor who had troubles with Peter Rabbit!).

Because the story was tied to what happened in Beatrix's life, there was necessarily a very sad conclusion to this romance. Although the story is one of triumph through tears when Beatrix ends up moving to the Lake District and saving vast swathes of beautiful countryside from the developers by buying up farmland and eventually donating it to the National Trust. The fact that now we can go to the Lake District and marvel at that gorgeous scenery is largely thanks to this visionary, remarkable woman. Oh, and she does find a new love too which is nice!

But after I'd blown my nose and wiped my eyes (seriously, it's a ten hanky movie, this one!), I thought about how rarely these days I see a film or read a book without the requisite happy ending.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE happy endings! It's one of the reasons I (and about a billion other people) am addicted to romance novels! There's nothing better than going through all those trials and tribulations and learning experiences with the characters, then seeing them get their reward at the end.

But sometimes I think the emotionally satisfying ending isn't for the hero and heroine to ride off into the sunset together.

Yeah, you know where I'm going. To Casablanca! Well, the movie at least!

Would CASABLANCA still be considered a classic if Humph and Ingy had decided to let her marriage vows go hang? I actually don't think so - although I think much of the emotional power of the story has a lot to do with how much we want these two to be together.

Actually movies of the 40s seem to specialize in these stories where we want the protagonists to be together but unfortunately their moral compass, which is one of the things we admire about them, makes that impossible.

It's many years since I saw NOW, VOYAGER with Paul Henreid (at least he got the girl in CASABLANCA - not so much in NOW, VOYAGER!) and Bette Davis. Actually one of the things I remember about it (other than the famous line when Bette says, "Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars. ") is the way Jerry (Paul H) and Charlotte (Bette) share cigarettes as a substitute for kissing - not sure it would work for me! But then I'm not a smoker. Paul puts two cigarettes between his lips, lights them both and passes one to his lady love with a VERY significant look!

Like MISS POTTER and CASABLANCA, NOW, VOYAGER is another triumph through tears story. Actually it's interesting that so many of these movies are either modern films set in historical times or older movies. The contemporary world doesn't seem to like the hero and heroine being in love but apart.

My last selection of a not so happily ever after is the famous one that people talk about whenever they're trying to define the romance genre. According to a lot of definitions, a romance HAS to have a happy ending which means GONE WITH THE WIND is not a romance.

Actually I think it is - they just don't end up together at the end!

I'm not sure whether it counts as triumph through tears either! It's not really my favorite movie although my mother absolutely loved it. I kinda think Scarlett deserves to be left at the end! I haven't read the book - never been able to get into it - but in the movie I was cheering for Rhett when he tells Scarlett he doesn't give a damn!

Anyway, I highly recommend MISS POTTER if you haven't seen it. And Beatrix Potter's life was amazing - click on the Wikipedia link on her name if you're curious to learn more about this extraordinary woman.

So do you occasionally enjoy a story that doesn't have a traditional happy ending? Do you have any favorites? Have you seen MISS POTTER? Oh, and does anyone have Ewan McGregor's phone number? I want to go down to the carrot patch with him and look for rabbits! Snork!


Daz said...


Daz said...

Another movie which broke my heart and I so wanted a happy ending was Dr Zhivago. I sat through all those trials and tribulations and waited and waited for them to be together to no avail. The end of the movie was not a good moment for me. It left me aching and heartbroken. Did you know the musical version of Dr Zhivago is coming to Australia next year? I remember my experience with the movie and I'm not sure I could do it again with the musical.

Anna Campbell said...

Deanna, you and Fedora seem to have his heart at the moment. He flirts elsewhere, but he comes home to ROOST with you gals!

Oh, Dr. Zhivago! Wasn't Omar gorgeous in that? Wasn't Julie Christie gorgeous in that? I think she's one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen! You're right about the ending - sheesh! Have you read the book? It's even more of a downer than the movie! Yes, really! At least the movie, ends on a slightly upbeat note with the balalaika - hmm, a pun and I didn't even mean to make one!

Daz said...

Anna, the GR is a glutton for punishment. It was hailing here just a few minutes ago.

Oh yes, Omar is gorgeous. Did I ever mention that when I lived in Egypt for a year, I lived in Omar's old apartment in the Hilton World Trade Centre and I used to get phone calls all the time for him from people who didn't know he moved? What fun!

My current obsession is Ramin Karimloo. Check him out. I could totally see him a Gideon.

Anna Campbell said...

Goodness, Deanna! I've never seen him before! Hubba hubba! What a handsome man. How did you come to discover him? And no, you didn't tell me about Omar's apartment. What an exciting life you've led!!! I caught the Yellow Rolls Royce on Turner Classic Movies yesterday and thought, dayum, that Omar was a fine-lookin' hunk of manhood!

Daz said...

He played Enjolras in the 25th Anniversary Performance of "Les Miserables" and is currently the Phantom in "Love Never Dies". Did you check out his You Tube videos?

That voice! That face!

Anna Campbell said...

Deanna, I saw there were molto sites devoted to him. Will definitely check him out. Enjolras is always such a DASHING part, isn't it? Something about that hussar's coat!

flchen1 said...

Oh my! I have to confess that I haven't seen Casablanca in its entirety, nor Dr. Zhivago... I tend to prefer the very happy endings in the movies and books I choose ;) I'm just a sap, and I hate sobbing at the END of a movie. *sniffle*

flchen1 said...

Oh, and hurrah on the GR, Deanna! Woot!

Anna Campbell said...

Fedora, I must say I usually prefer happy endings. But I thought Miss Potter was so beautifully done, it made me think of films and books where it's not all glowing optimism at the end. I must say, though, even with a sad ending, I like some glimmer of hope or emotional satisfaction.

PinkPeony said...


Gee, Anna...I LOVED Now, Voyager and Bette's infamous line. I hated the way her family treated her. Made me crazy.

Movies with no HEA...Tristan and Isolde, Reds, Out of Africa, Roman Holiday (Gregory & Audrey in Rome and not even a kiss), The Last Time I Saw Paris, If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (Suzanne Pleshette gives Ian McShane the heave-ho)

Congrats, on El Pollo, Daz!

flchen1 said...

I'll have to give Miss Potter a go, Anna! Thanks for the rec!

Linley Maroney said...

I must admit to a huge soft spot for Rhett and Scarlett. He was so committed to her and she just couldn't see it until too late. *sigh*

Another sad ending is The Horse Whisperer. Not classed as a romance but it's there all the same. And I don't mean the movie - that ends VERY differently to the book and falls a bit flat. But the book left me in absolute tears. Must read it again...

I'm quite open to a not-so-happily-ever-after ending if the characters have the substance to pull it off. If their identities have become too wrapped up in each other then it won't work - aside from it being unhealthy. :-P But with strong characters, it can be somewhat satisfying. Scarlett was strong, (pig-headed, blind, selfish and stupid) if nothing else. Another confession - I could never get into Casablanca. *runs*

I was a huge Victoria Holt fan as a teen. Actually, I still love her books. And every once in a while she would have a character settle for second best and miss out on the love of their life. Always left me very angry. :-P

Hmmm, another not very happily ever after movie ending, From Hell. Johnny Depp movie about Jack The Ripper. A rather overtly fictionalised variation on the story. (Worth it just for Johnny.)

Titanic doesn't have the happily ever after but Rose certainly lived a full life for having known Jack.

Up Close And Personal. Wow, I'm on a roll now...

I'll stop before I get carried away! Great blog!

Anna Campbell said...

Jen, hold your horses! We must have seen different versions of things. Aud and GP kiss in the car when he drives her back to the palace. It's REALLY romantic - and there is a lovely bittersweet ending to that. And in the Belgium film, I'm sure SP and IMS get together (actually it's years since I've seen that one so I could be wrong there!). Out of Africa? Oh, man, I howled buckets in that one. He was a LOVELY hero, wasn't he?

Yeah, Bette did have an awful family in NV! I liked Claude Rains as the psychologist!

Anna Campbell said...

Fedora, I thought it was just lovely. And the scenery (not just the Ewan scenery too!) is lovely!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Linley, lovely to see you here!

You know, I've neither read nor seen the Horse Whisperer. Sounds like I should (laughed at you and your horse obsession raising its head again!).

Ooh, I don't remember the VHs where they didn't get their true love. I do remember going through a Catherine Gaskin phase as a teen and a lot of her women settle for a second love rather than a first great love. They're closer to women's fiction, though, than romance, if I had to be strict about genres.

Ooh, you're definitely coming up with the examples. Actually I should have thought of Titanic. It's one where it is kinda emotionally satisfying what happens - when the old lady throws the heart of the ocean into the Atlantic and then dies peacefully and goes back to Jack. Kinda felt gypped for the husband she DID have, though! ;-)

PinkPeony said...

I don't remember the kiss at all in Roman Holiday! I'll have to go rent the film again. In ITTMBB, SP does the hippity-hop with IMS, and he asks her to stay on, but she goes back to the states.

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Daz.

Hi Anna,
"The Bodyguard" and "Love Story" don't have a happy ending either. I love HEAs, but I know that sometimes that's not possible.

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Jen, I'll have to watch Belgium again. I think I've got it mixed up with one with SP and Tab Hunter called Lovers Must Learn (although I think it had a different title in the States). That also has an American girl in Europe who falls in love. I remember that as very romantic - and it has a happy ending!

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, Jane, I thought the Bodyguard COULD have had a happy ending. There wasn't really any reason they couldn't be together, that I could see. Mind you, it's a while since I've seen it. Oh, Love Story! Haven't seen that in ages. Love means never having to say you're sorry!

Sheree said...

The lack of HEA is why I stick to romantic comedies and kids films.

How about "Love, Actually" which has some heart-warming endings as well as some bittersweet ones.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Fo!
I've seen Miss Potter and LURVED it! Yes, Ewan is verra nice eye candy but the real landscapes are spectacular too. You're right about the 10 hankies. I'm sure I needed at least that many. :-)

I JUST saw the Suz P. and Troy D. movies you mentioned and here it was called Rome Adventure. GREAT movie! All those great shots of Rome with NO CROWDS...

I think the last film I really liked that did NOT have an HEA (but like Casablanca couldn't have ended any other way) was Crazy Heart. She gets a great guy and the hero gets his dignity.


Anna Campbell said...

Sheree, I'm using one of the stories in Love Actually as my inspiration for the current story I've just started. So the film is high in my consciousness at the moment. Actually the best segment, I thought, was the sad one about Emma Thompson and Allan Rickman. That was beautifully handled, I thought. That scene where she goes off alone to cry is astonishing! Whaaaah! Cried myself!

Anna Campbell said...

AC, you've seen Miss Potter? Not a lot of people I know seem to have watched it and I thought it was such a lovely film. Oh, you're right about the ten hankies! And that scene where she goes down for the funeral always breaks my heart. We forget how social mores were like a straitjacket back then.

And you've seen the Troy D and Suzanne P film? I don't think anybody else I know has! The scenery in that was brilliant too. I think seeing these movies when I was a kid and a teenager was one of the things that made me long to travel. All those places look so glam on film! Actually Lovers Must Learn is an awfully sappy title!

I haven't seen Crazy Heart. Love Jeff Bridges - have you seen Fearless? Again, a film not a lot of people have seen but he's amazing in it! Should get CH out! I must say it looked a bit grim in the shorts!

Linley Maroney said...

Hehe, yes. Hopefully Rose's husband never knew he wasn't her 'one and only'. Poor guy could've been a shade emasculated by that.

I can't remember which VH novel had the not-HEA ending. One with a big cat name in the title. Either Shadow Of The Lynx, or Spring Of The Tiger. He died saving her life from the evil friend who (always) tried to kill the heroine.

The main reason I thought of The Horse Whisperer is because it was on one of the Movie Channels today. I'm at work, so I'm paid to notice these things. ;-) I'd happily recommend the book. You don't need to be a horse nut like me to enjoy it. Just keep the tissues handy at the end.

More movies. Gladiator doesn't have a happy ending, but neither is it a romance. Is Beaches a romance? Another non-romantic movie that makes me sob every time I see it is The Green Mile. Far out, that movie is powerful.

Oh! Oh! Edward Scissorhands! I knew I had more unhappily ever afters in my DVD library.

Anyone for Romeo and Juliet?

Legends Of The Fall, Public Enemies although that focused more on the crime part than the love interest part. City Of Angels.

Did I ever mention I'm a bit of a movie buff? Once I get home I'll dig through the numerous cabinets and shelves full of DVDs and see what else I can come up with. :-D

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Linley, waiting with bated breath to hear what you come up with.

You're right about Romeo and Juliet. Immediately makes me think of West Side Story which made me cry like a loon, the first time I saw the movie. A boy like that who kill your brother...

Actually a lot of those epic movies have sad endings. Spartacus does too. But like Gladiator, it's emotionally satisfying. I love that last scene in Gladiator where he runs his hand through the wheat and meets his wife and son. Booo hoooooo! And such gorgeous music!

Actually the ending of City of Angels really gave me the sh*ts. Again, like Bodyguard, it seemed gratuitous that they didn't end up together. They could have quite easily. The original German film, Wings of Desire (isn't that a fab title?) was brave enough to have a happy ending and I think it's actually a much more satisfying film as a result. I think sometimes people stick in a sad ending because they're milking the emotional reaction rather than digging deep into the story and coming up with the best ending for those characters.

Sheree said...

"Somewhere in Time" - they have their HEA after he kills himself (she was dead already).

Does "My Best Friend's Wedding" count? After all, Rupert Everett's character is gay so there's no traditional HEA.

Anna Campbell said...

Sheree, I LOVE Somewhere in Time! What a great choice. Another one I've cried my eyes out with. And there was something major stopping them having a happy ending in this life. Actually now I think of it one of my all-time favorite movies, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir has a bittersweet, emotionally satisfying ending too.

You're right about My Best Friend's Wedding. Most people I know really loved that film but I can't say it really appealed to me. I just thought the Julia Roberts character was mean! Thought Rupert was great, though!

Cath's Chatter said...

wow...lots of movies there that I haven't seen.
I love 'West Side Story'
What about 'Shakespeare In Love' and 'The Notebook'???
Sorry to say I CANNOT stand Renee Zellweger and therefore have not seen it so I can only take your word for it Anna that its good.
Another great post anyway =]

Anna Campbell said...

Cath, I'm not a great fan of the Renee either. I generally find her very mannered. But in this movie, somehow I got over that. Seriously, it's worth checking out - pretend she's not there and drool...uh, admire in an intellectual fashion Mr. Ewan! And the story is so inspiring. Haven't seen the Notebook but you're right about Shakespeare in Love. Is it shallow to say my principal memory of that film is wondering how Gwynneth managed to squeeze all that mass of blonde hair under her boy's wig? Yeah, probably is shallow!

Helen said...

Well done Deanna we had a storm again this afternoon but no hail today have fun with him he can help clean up after the storm LOL


What a lovely post and yes I have seen Miss Potter and I really enjoyed it and I did have a box of tissues with me while watching it and I gotta say Cassblanca love it as well and I love Gone With The Wind too. Another couple of movies that end without a HEA are Love Story and The Way We Were one of course with the famous saying "Love never means having to say you are sorry" and of course he looses his love and then Robert Redford and Barbara Streisend who really love each other just can't live together. Both of these movies make me cry but I do love them

Have Fun

And no sorry Anna I don't have Ewan McGregor's phone number if I did I would share with you LOL

Nicola Cornick said...

Love the post, Anna! I enjoyed Miss Potter very much. The scenery - Ewan and the Lake District - was great! Did I ever tell you that Ewan almost bought a house just up the road from here? So near and yet so far...

I love a HEA so films that lack it tend to leave me with a little niggle even when I know they could end no other way. I guess Titanic came close to satisfying me (no pun intended!) and I love Romeo and Juliet. I enjoyed Becoming Jane as well even though I knew that wasn't going to work out!

Nancy said...

Anna, I wish I had Ewan MacGregor's phone number, but, alas, I do not.

I like an HEA in my movies. I've enjoyed some that don't have it, like Terminator and Under the Tuscan Sun, Casablanca and Gone With the Wind, but I much prefer that rosy scenario at the end.

The dh greatly admires Beatrix Potter, though he seldom gets to teach the picture book class anymore. We went to the Lake District and visited Hilltop Farm on one of his research trips.

As you know (I noticed that you referred to her new love), but some of our buddies may not, Miss Potter eventually married a lawyer (William Heelis) who practiced in the scenic town of Hawkshead. She became an expert in breeding Herdwick sheep. When we were there, his law office had become a gallery displaying her watercolors.

She also did studies of mushrooms and other fungi that are in the V&A. We were lucky to catch a display when we were there last, quite a few years ago. She really was an amazing person.

Daz, congrats on the bird.

Nancy said...

Oh--another movie we liked that did not have HEA at the end was Finding Neverland, about James M. Barrie.

Scorpio M. said...

Hi Anna! I really enjoyed MISS POTTER even though I was so sad for her.

Seems I am a sucker for movies with bittersweet endings. OUT OF AFRICA, THE WAY WE WERE, THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, LEGENDS OF THE FALL. This is why I love romance novels. I need my HEA!! :-)

Susan Sey said...

Hey, Anna--

I do love a good weepy ending, but I have a hard time getting into stories I know are going to end badly. It's like the whole time I'm hoping against hope that *this* time history will rewrite itself and this poor person I love so much will get the long, happy life she so clearly deserves. (Biographies are the worst because clearly they have to toe the line when it comes to reality.)

But you're right about GWTW--Scarlett totally deserves to have her ass left, & if Rhett's feeling lonely in the night here's my number. :-)

Christie Kelley said...

Sorry, Fo, I lost Ewan's number last week. :)

I don't mind an occasional movie without the happy ending. But I want to know before the movie starts that it's not going to have that happy ending. I need to be ready for that sadness.

While I love Gone With the Wind, I do kind of cheer for Rhett at the end too. I really don't believe Scarlet deserves him.

Sarah Morgan said...

I have to have a happy ending.

I agree that Rhett said the right thing to Scarlett and that she deserved it, but I wanted to immediately see the next episode where Scarlett grew and changed and they lived happily ever after. I just hate seeing her lose him even though she doesn't deserve him. I want her to see the light and change.

I think the Emma/Alan story in Love Actually is beautiful but the one with Laura Linney and the scorching hot Rodrigo Santoro just drove me mad. I'm sure they could have worked something out.....ugh

Great post Anna. I adore the Lake District.

Sarah Morgan said...

I have to have a happy ending.

I agree that Rhett said the right thing to Scarlett and that she deserved it, but I wanted to immediately see the next episode where Scarlett grew and changed and they lived happily ever after. I just hate seeing her lose him even though she doesn't deserve him. I want her to see the light and change.

I think the Emma/Alan story in Love Actually is beautiful but the one with Laura Linney and the scorching hot Rodrigo Santoro just drove me mad. I'm sure they could have worked something out.....ugh

Great post Anna. I adore the Lake District.

Gannon Carr said...

Of course, I prefer happy endings. That's one of the reasons I love romance!

I haven't seen Miss Potter, but I agree with you about the other movies you mentioned. All great, but far from feel good happy endings.

A big yes on some of the others that were already mentioned: Love, Actually, Somewhere In Time, Shakespeare In Love, Romeo and Juliet. Some of my favorites and all capable of moving me to tears.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Ah, Anna, I've seen all four movies. And yes, I loved Miss Potter. As soon as I watched it a few years back I had to learn everything I could about her, him, if she really did find her happy ending, etc.

LOVE it!

Karyn Gerrard said...

I love all the movies you mention, heck, I named one of my dogs "Bogart"!! But, I have not seen Miss Potter! Will add that to my viewing list!
Happy endings, oh yes.
Give Now Voyager another look, it is timeless, and Casablanca, well....*sigh*
Bridges of Madison County didn't have a happy ending as such, but I still enjoyed it. Who knew Clint Eastwood could be
And of course, I know Anna you are like me and no doubt blubbered at "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" with Rex Harrison!

MsHellion said...

Yes, I've seen Miss Potter, but because it was a 10 hankie movie, I haven't felt a real need to see it again. Even The Notebook had a better ending than Miss Potter in my book.

You're right--we don't like thwarted love stories--but I think the reason thwarted love stories were so popular (or are occasionally still popular) is because someone is feeling nostalgic for Chivalrous Love. You know, the Lancelot and Gwenivere kind of love. It's all about LOVING CHASTELY or pure love. It's not tainted by sex or anything; and the moment it IS tainted by sex, the whole thing falls apart and you lose a kingdom over it.

Hell, even John Keats sums it up in his Grecian Urn poem, talking about the bold lover who will never get the girl--but that's fine because his love will never fade. It will always be springtime for them.

So I think we have those kind of stories with the chaste love or the love we can never have because it's the only love that "never changes" and never fades. It is the only way it can be perfect because it never happened. Because once you did act upon it, well, you and the other person are only human and the relationship won't be as perfect anymore. Someone will start leaving his socks around on the floor, two inches from the hamper; and someone will throw out your college t-shirt because there was holes in it. And then neither of you will seem quite so charming or quite so lovable.

If you want perfect love that never tarnishes, you can't end up together. The end.

Personally that kind isn't nearly as much as the imperfect sex kind, so keep me away from Dr. Zhivago (4 hours I'm never getting back!) and Miss Potter and Casablanca (still don't get the draw of that movie).

This is not to say I have anything against a perfectly depressing movie and the healing benefits of a good sobfest, but if given the choice, I'd rather have sex.

Deb said...

I haven't seen MISS POTTER, but it sounds good.

I like the la-di-da-di-da happy endings; gushy and mushy and all that good stuff. :)

PJ said...

What a lovely post, Fo. I haven't seen that Beatrix Potter movie. Will have to check it out.

I do enjoy a tear-jerker from time to time but, the older I get, the more I want my happy endings.

One viewing of GWTW was enough for me. Scarlett was a spoiled brat and not nearly good enough for Rhett.

Cassondra said...

Fo, I have not seen Miss Potter, though I would like to know more of her life. I know only scanty details.

I didn't really like GWTW much. I also was cheering for Rhett to get the heck outa there. It's actually not the ending that bothers me about this film. It's that I have a really tough time seeing Scarlett as a heroine because I just can't relate to her. I can't find anything about her through which to relate. She's just a nasty, spoiled brat, and pretty much remains so through the entire film.

I have seen Casablanca, and no, I don' think it would be nearly the classic it is, had she chucked hubby and gone off with Humph.

You know, when I was a younger woman, I had more of a stomach for what I call the "unrequited ending." As I grow older, I seem to have less room for emotional gut punches. They hang over me.

I miss some really good films because of it. :0/

Cassondra said...

Susan Sey said:

But you're right about GWTW--Scarlett totally deserves to have her ass left, & if Rhett's feeling lonely in the night here's my number. :-)

Amen Sistah!

*does one of those jump in the air and bump sides high-fives I saw the basketball players do at a game the other night*

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Oh, I have to say that I have to have my happy ending. I get irate if I read or watch something and don't get it. Somersby comes to mind, I ranted for weeks over that.

Janga said...

Anna, I love Miss Potter, and Katie Melua's "When You Taught Me How to Dance" is one of my favorite songs ever. Anne Gracie said in one of her Word Wench posts that the song inspired the dance scene in The Accidental Wedding. Isn't that lovely?

Steel Magnolias and Ghosts are two movies I love despite the fact that they leave me sobbing.

Anna Campbell said...

Helen, you'd SHARE EM's phone number? You're a better woman than I am, hon! LOL! Oh, I forgot the Way We Were. A lot of those movies in the 70s seem to like the bittersweet ending, don't they? Haven't seen TWWW for ages - play the theme song on the piano now and again. Mammaries light the corners of my mind!

Anna Campbell said...

Isn't that interesting about you liking Becoming Jane, Nicola? I must say I didn't! Although I liked the rich guy who proposed to her and who she knocked back. Maybe I should watch it again! Ooh, EM up the road? How cool would that have been. Apparently he was living up the road from me when he was making Star Wars in Sydney but I never saw him (I did see a lot of actors working in town, including Rufus Sewell, be still my beating heart!). He has such a lovely accent, EM, doesn't he?

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Nancy, you're right about Terminator. I love that film - wasn't so crazy about anything else in the series. By that stage, they had money instead of ideas. Yeah, I know, shoot me. But the suspense in the original is just amazing! I love the love story in that film. Actually I thought Under the Tuscan Sun did have a happy ending. I couldn't see her long term with that boy, beautiful as he was.

Anna Campbell said...

Nancy, wasn't BP an amazing woman? It makes you think of all the talents stifled over the years because the possessor of those talents was a woman with no outlet.

Anna Campbell said...

Nancy, Finding Neverland was really sad, wasn't it? JD was a lovely J.M. Barrie. I must say I like Kate Winslett - there's a depth to her acting that always appeals to me.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, Scorpio, I forgot the Bridges of Madison County. Weren't Clint and Meryl absolute magic together? I've recently watched it again - I always get so sad in that scene in the rain when she almost but not quite!

Anna Campbell said...

Susan, I admire your public spirit! How unselfish of you to take on Rhett in Scarlett's absence.

I think the unhappy endings that prevail in real life is one of the reasons I write romance and not historical fiction. Especially for women, unhappy endings were the rule rather than the exception. Or at least that's true about women who stuck their heads above the parapet.

Anna Campbell said...

Christie, I might believe you HAD Ewan's number. I will NEVER believe you lost it! You just want me to stop stalking you - and I'm not falling for your tricks.

I agree with you about Scarlett having used up all her chances by the end. Yay, Rhett, for walking away from her!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Sarah! Gosh, famous authors coming out of the woodwork here today! Thanks so much for swinging by. And congratulations on your Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award final! Whoo-hooo!

I hear you on the happy ending! I agree with you about Laura L and her very pretty crush on Love Actually. That was one where I thought the sad ending was gratuitous. As you said, they COULD have worked it out with a bit of gumption.

Anna Campbell said...

Gannon, you haven't seen Miss Potter? Seriously, I think you'd love it. And I've concentrated on the sad bits but there are some really lovely bits too. When BP achieves financial independence through her writing, for example. And when she falls in love with Ewan, it's incredibly sweet.

Anna Campbell said...

Suzanne, I love that she DOES get her happy ending in the end, even if it isn't the one she first planned on. And I love that she did so much good with all that money and intelligence. So glad you're a fan!

Anna Campbell said...

Karyn, I find that ending of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir so uplifting, I kinda forget the sadness that goes before. In many ways, Lucy leads a frustrated life, doesn't she? And honestly the message is the only good man is a dead one, LOL! I adore the music from that film. I've got a CD of it and I often write to it. It's so romantic and emotional.

Anna Campbell said...

Snort, Helly! You know, in between my snickering, you make some really pertinent points (although Dr Z does have sex with Lara!). I hadn't thought of the unhappy ending being in the tradition of courtly love but of course, you're right. Actually I have trouble watching King Arthur movies/reading the stories because of the ending. There's also that horrible pull of loyalty when the man you're betraying is also your much-loved best friend. Ouch! I like the happy endings like Sir Gareth who GETS the girl. Hmm, thinking about Tristan and Isolde now. Actually they DO have sex too and in the original versions, neither of them is particularly admirable (the monks in particular make Isolde out to be a real beyotch). Mind you, that's monks for you! ;-)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Deb, don't get me wrong - gushy and mushy works just fine for me. But I started thinking about how much I enjoyed Miss Potter, in spite of the sad parts, and that's what prompted this post. I think it would still have worked as a story if EM had lived and they'd got married as planned, it just would have been a different story. And obviously because it was a biopic, they had to stick to the truth (well, mostly!).

Anna Campbell said...

PJ, I used to adore a sad ending. Wuthering Heights was my choice over Jane Eyre when I was a teenager, for example (although again, I think that has an emotionally satisfying ending). I think as we get older and we realize life can bite us, that we love to see those characters triumph against adversity and get their HEA. Nonetheless, I think you'd like Miss Potter!

Anna Campbell said...

Cassondra, how interesting, you and PJ make similar points about the older we get, the more we appreciate happy endings! I'm definitely there with you and I tend to try and avoid sad endings. I probably wouldn't have seen Miss Potter if not being stuck in a tin can 30,000 feet above ground! I take your point about Scarlett although I remember seeing it later as an older person and thinking she's strong.

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Dianna, I SOOOO agree with you about Somersby. Again, I thought that was gratuitous - although the original real-life case it was based on (Martin Guerre, 16th century France) ended that way with him hanged. However, they changed so much from the story, why not change the ending too?

Anna Campbell said...

Janga, I haven't seen Steel Magnolias. That's a sad ending I've avoided (yeah, I'm a wimp!). How cool you and Anne Gracie are both fans of Miss Potter. I didn't know about Anne using that song as inspiration. It's really, REALLY sweet in the movie - see, guys, I said there were some happy moments!

Anna Campbell said...

OK, I'm traveling today. But I should be able to get back to the blog a few times. I'm really enjoying the discussion! Keep it up!

petite said...

I saw Beatrix Potter and loved every minute of it. What a memorable and special movie it is. A movie that was another one with a sad ending was An Affair to Remember.

traveler said...

Oh, I loved this post today. I loved this movie and still think about it. Unique, unforgettable and wonderful. Another one would be Brief Encounter.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Crazy Heart is very hard to watch in places, but Jeff's performance is outstanding (as usual)! It's difficult to pick my fave JB role, but Starman is right up there near the top and that didn't exactly have an HEA either.

And LOL! I wondered the same thing about Shakespeare In Love... WHERE did she hide all that hair?!?!


MsHellion said...

See, that's what I don't like about those stories that allow the characters to have sex (Zhivago, Tristan & Isolde), but don't give them a HEA. It's like, "If you didn't have sex with her, you could have had her forever!"

Monks are writing that crap. *LOL* That whole Puritan line about how sex ruins everything.

This is why I prefer my romance novels. We get the sex AND the HEA. We're in the modern world: we want our cake and to eat it too. (No pun intended. *coughs*)

MsHellion said...

I've caught up on some of the comments. Ghost does tear me up. *LOL*

Braveheart does me in, for both romances within the film. Titanic makes me cry; and From Hell didn't have a HEA someone pointed out. And I do like Becoming Jane, as depressing as it was, for Jane and her sister.

I recently watched Never Let Me Go, which didn't have a HEA per se, but yes, they did get to spend SOME time together, however short it was.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Anna,what a wonderful blog!
ROMAN HOLIDAY with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck is one of my favorite movies.
The princess gives up her chance of love for duty and the journalist for honor yet it is a wonderful, satisfying ending.
My daughter and I watched it last week (again!) and I commented that today they would not make that movie with that ending. Duty and honor over HEA...sigh!

Kandy Shepherd said...

PS, forgot to say I loved MISS POTTER.

Darynda said...

Excellent post, Anna!!! A movie I saw recently with a not-so-happy ending that I just loved was Keith. It's a young adult and I had to go out and buy the DVD immediately.

I can't wait to see Ms. Potter! I didn't even know about it. Thanks!


catslady said...

I've always thought that tragedies stayed with me longer than the HEA. Gone with the Wind and Romeo and Juliet are two of my favorites. I haven't seen Miss Potter but I'm going to put it on my list.

Donnell said...

Whew! It took me nearly a full hour to scroll down to the end of this post. Anna, not only did I love Beatrix Potter and the triumphant story of a woman breaking through the male-dominated strictures of her era, I LOVED Renee Zellweger's portrayal. I can't imagine anyone else playing this role, can you?

Great post

Anna Campbell said...

Petite, how interesting that you think an Affair to Remember has a sad ending! I know she can't walk but I think it's pretty hopeful - must be me! So glad you loved Miss Potter too. It had a really classic movie feel to me.

Anna Campbell said...

Traveler, Brief Encounter! How could I have forgotten that one? Do you remember the wonderful Rachmaninov pianoa concerto throughout? Wow, talk about an emotional piece of music! There was a really horrible remake of BE in the 70s with Sophia Loren and Richard Burton. Bleuch! The original is such a classic. And SOOOO bittersweet.

Anna Campbell said...

AC, don't you think it's a problem in a film when the heroine's hirsute issues take precedence? I'm just sayin'...

Oh, I must see Crazy Heart. I LOVE Starman. As you say, very bittersweet ending but emotionally satisfying again. I liked Karen Allen. She wasn't in very much but she always made a lovely impression, I think.

Anna Campbell said...

Hellion, unhand that cake immediately! What? The cake's enjoying it. Well, never let me come between a consenting cake and its...eater. Hmm, might stop there.

You're right about DZ and TandI. I hadn't thought of it in that context. Actually Guinevere and Lancelot is the same thing. They had sex and everything went to pot.

Anna Campbell said...

Helly, I've never heard of Never Let Me Go. I'll have to check it out! Or From Hell, for that matter. Sounded a bit too scary. I love Braveheart, don't get me wrong. Another lovely score. But it annoyed me that the love scenes were SOOOO curtailed and we got beheadings and disembowellings and impalements in great detail. Why is it OK to show violence but not a couple making love in a loving relationship? Hmm, or maybe I'm just a dirty old woman!

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, Kandy, I can see you liking Miss Potter. It just felt like something up your alley. Oh, I love Roman Holiday. You can see why it made Audrey such a star. There's a lovely story about GP getting main credit and her just as an 'introducing' line. But he said when he acted with her that he couldn't possibly let her get anything but top billing. How gracious is that? And you're right - the duty over love thing wouldn't happen today in a film. Which I actually think would spoil it! Looking forward to your visit next week!

Anna Campbell said...

Darynda, another famous author here today! Clearly the lair must be next door to famous author cocktail bar central! Thanks for swinging by. I haven't heard of Keith. I'll have to check it out! And thanks for swinging by.

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, Catslady, you might have a point about tragedies sticking in our minds more strongly. I think there's some dramatic theory about us all feeling better after we watch a sad story - good old catharsis. I'm not a drama specialist. Maybe somebody else knows! I don't think Romeo and Juliet would be nearly so famous if they lived happily ever after!

Anna Campbell said...

Donnell, thank you so much for swinging by! Lovely to see you. Oh, so glad you loved Miss Potter. As you said, it was wonderful seeing her find her inner strength and break out, when it would have been so much easier just to give in. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. There's been some really thoughtful takes on this - as I said, watching Miss P really made me think about how rarely these days I see a sad ending!

Julia Smith said...

I'm a HEA-oddball, in that I'm actually more attracted to the Gone With the Wind / Miss Potter type of story. More, please...

It's all Star Wars' fault, by the way. After the success of that film, ALL films had the HEA ending, which prior to Star Wars had gone the way of the dodo.

(But I love Star changed my life...)

Minna said...

I prefer HEA, but there are some exceptions. And sometimes HEA doesn't really seem to be the "realistic" option. Like in one of the books by Nora Roberts: the woman is a straight arrow, works with art, the man is an art thief and even in the end of the book you get the idea that he's really not going to change his ways, anyway.

by the way, has any of you been reading Suzanne McMinn's blog these past couple of days? I have to say, these people stole from a wrong person, because Suzanne has no
intention of taking it quietly:

Annie West said...


I thought this was a terrific film too. Definitely one for the hanky brigade and the tragic love story was just so tragic. Really good viewing though and I did like the HEA eventually. I think part of the impact for me was that because it was about Beatrix P for some reason I didn't expect the tragedy. It came completely out of the blue.

'Roman Holiday' was another where the HEA didn't emerge. Though I enjoyed it, I don't think it rivals 'Casablanca'.

Ewen M's phone no? Dream on, dear. We ended up watching 'The Long Way Down' and 'The Long Way Round' - travels on motorbikes and it was great viewing. He seems an interesting guy.

Nancy said...

Anna, the later Terminator films were not as good, I agree. Under the Tuscan Sun has a happy, as in upbeat, ending, but I wouldn't call it HEA because it wasn't a happy couple--unless I've forgotten something.

Linley Maroney said...

"Is it shallow to say my principal memory of that film is wondering how Gwynneth managed to squeeze all that mass of blonde hair under her boy's wig?"

Possibly. My principal memory of that film was wondering the whole way through how she beat out Cate Blanchett for the Oscar. Seriously!!

I was thinking yesterday of Love Actually but didn't mention it because there were a number of HEAs within it. I do like that movie though. Alan Rickman is just fabulous.

Ghost was another one that occurred to me, but has since been mentioned. I also thought of Finding Neverland but it has also been mentioned. Such a beautiful movie and I thoroughly echo your sentiments about Kate Winslet. She has class.

I had a promised sift through the DVD library. The vast majority of my movies lean towards the violent/thriller spectrum but a few others did jump out at me.

Van Helsing doesn't have an HEA. I love my vampire movies and a lot of the time there isn't really a romance thread in them. But Van Helsing had one, only to bust it up at the end.

Pirates Of The Caribbean 3 doesn't really have an HEA, if you think about it. The only way to save Will's life was to make him the captain of the Flying Dutchman which doomed him to a certain fate.

Sweeney Todd is another completely UNhappily ever after. Although what little romance there is in that film is of a warped, unhealthy variety anyway. Bloody awesome movie, though. Emphasis on bloody.

Switching arts to the musical theatre world, this is a field rife with UN-HEAs. Sure Phantom Of The Opera has Christine and Raoul ending up together but it leaves you with such a huge sense of longing for the Phantom. Likewise with Wicked. Not a tragic ending, but still a little... sad.

And for those who like imperfect endings, please watch Pan's Labyrinth and The Orphanage. Spanish films but stunning to watch and will leave you at the end wondering a little. Not going to spoil it but those movies are high on my recommend list. :-)

Am just loving this discussion!!

Christine Wells said...

Hi Fo! Sorry I'm so late to the party. Been having all sorts of trouble and strife here.

I tend to prefer a happy ending--witness all the romance I read! Must admit I wasn't expecting the sad twist in Miss Potter so it really knocked me for six. I cried buckets and while I was happy that she went on to live a full and content life, it still left me dissatisfied and a little angry. But that's life isn't it? Whereas, Casablanca has a kind of justice about it, and of course GWTW is a romance--it's just that she fails to complete that arc and he completes it so early in the piece that by the time she's ready to love him, his love is burned out. Rhett is far too good for her, but I always wonder if she'll get there eventually, and maybe tomorrow was another day.

Congrats on the rooster, Daz!

Christine Wells said...

Oh, yes, Kandy! ROMAN HOLIDAY is one of the few DVDs I own. Love that movie! And while it is sad, I just love that final scene. I would have been disappointed in her if she'd run off with him and left her duty behind, which is what would happen nowadays.

Isn't it interesting that nobody forsakes self-interest for their principles any more? Honour and duty seem to be such old fashioned concepts in western culture.

Pat Cochran said...

One of the films that I greatly
enjoyed back in the late 1940s
was Humphrey Bogart's film noir,
Knock On Any Door. It was not a
great hit with the critics but I
dearly loved it. It definitely
did not have a happy ending. It
introduced John Derek to the film
world, who in turn gave us the
phrase: "live hard, die young,
leave a good-looking corpse."

BTW, Ms. Anna, is "looking for
rabbits" similar to "going to
watch the submarine races"??

Nancy said...

Linley, lots of us here also love movies with boom (as well call explosive action here in the Lair). I liked Van Helsing despite wishing the end had been happier.

You wrote: I was thinking yesterday of Love Actually but didn't mention it because there were a number of HEAs within it. I do like that movie though. Alan Rickman is just fabulous.

I haven't seen Alan Rickman be less than fabulous in anything. I loved him in Galaxy Quest, and I thought he was wonderful as Snape in the Harry Potter films.

Nancy said...

Daz, that's cool about Omar Sharif's apartment. I also wished Dr. Zhivago had a happy ending, though I love Lara's theme from the soundtrack.

I think Omar Sharif is a big bridge player--or was at one time.

Nancy said...

Christine, sorry about the trouble and strife there. A friend of mine refuses to see or read GWTW on the grounds that he has no desire to spend that much time with a spoiled brat. I agree that Rhett was much more mature than Scarlett, who took far too long to realize his value.

I never read the sequel.

Nancy said...

Donna, I just noticed your picture. What a gorgeous bulldog! We had bulldogs when I was growing up, and I sometimes miss their wrinkly faces.

Louisa Cornell said...

Good on you, Daz !! He definitely has a thing for Aussie girls!

Lovely post, La Campbell. In reading I prefer a HEA, which is why I LOVE romance. In movies I don't mind a hanky movie every now and then, but I have to be in the right frame of mind. In opera I LOVED singing the tragedies. Singing while dying always gave me such a kick. (Singing while being murdered is even better. Otello, anyone?)

I loved Out of Africa, absolutely gorgeous film. I love the end when she speaks about the lions who come to lie on the spot where Dennis is buried and that she must remember to tell him about it. Perfectly sad and wonderful.

Films like Roman Holiday, Dark Victory, Now Voyager are just stunning to watch. And I enjoyed GWTW and didn't mind that Rhett left her. It was what she deserved at the time. But, I always held out hope that she would figure it all out and become the sort of woman who deserved him.

Van Helsing doesn't have a HEA, but it does have Hugh Jackman in leather. Can't beat it.

LilMissMolly said...

Yes, I occasionally enjoy a movie or book without the traditional happily ever after ending. I did see Miss Potter, but I'm not a huge Renee Z. fan, so I couldn't get past her fake accent. Casablanca is the first movie (or book) that I experienced that did not have the happy ending. Two of my favorites are Moulin Rouge with Nicole Kidman and your main man from Miss Potter, Ewan McGregor (he was so robbed of an Oscar nomination for his work in Moulin Rouge) and Becoming Jane with Ann Hathaway and James McAvoy.

Anna Campbell said...

Julia, I didn't realize Star Wars was the culprit! And I loved Star Wars too - or at least the first three. Haven't seen the second three. Glad you're a Miss Potter fan!

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, Minna, I'll have to check that blog. Not now,though. I'm staying with people and have snuck in to answer the comments on the blog!

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, lovely to see you! Thanks for swinging by. You don't think EM wants me to call him? What sort of friend are you? I think he's really charming in real life too. Glad you're a Miss Potter fan!

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, interesting definition, Nancy.
There's definitely an implication in Tuscan Sun that that new guy is going to be Mr. Right for the heroine. I could live with that as a HEA. But then I think GWTW is a romance!

Anna Campbell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anna Campbell said...

Linley, wow, I love that list you gave us. I heard wonderful things about Pan's Labyrinth - wasn't it up for a few Oscars? Actually in general, I think foreign films are often happier (ha!) with an unhappy ending than mainstream American films. I could be wrong - just a feeling I have. I must check out Van Helsing. Perhaps Hugh will ring me now that Ewan has given me the brush off. Boo hoooo! Yeah, gotta say Cate was robbed for the Oscars that year. Gwynneth's part didn't seem that demanding to me!

Anna Campbell said...

Christine, I love it when you talk character arcs! It's like writer porn! ;-) No worries about being late. I've been in transit most of the day so I've been a bit neglectful myself. Oh, when Ewan dies, it really is sad, isn't it? And you get so frustrated on her behalf at how social mores get in the way of genuine feeling.

Anna Campbell said...

Christine, that's one of the reasons I love to write historical romance - outmoded concepts like honor and duty are so important in the Regency era.

Anna Campbell said...

Snort, Pat! I've never heard the submarine analogy - I do like to meet nice seamen! Oh, dear, that's a bit risque, isn't it? Where's Tawny when you want her? I've never heard of that Humphrey B film. I'll have to check it out. One of the first films of his I ever saw was High Sierra which again has a sad ending. He was a very heroic baddie in that so it's quite powerful when he dies.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, Alan Rickman! Sigh. He was a star of the Royal Shakespeare Company when I lived in England and I was an utter groupie (so was Kenneth Branagh). Nancy, he literally purrs when he's being sexy. Swoon!

Anna Campbell said...

Nancy, I remember reading somewhere that Omar made more money from bridge than movies when his career went into decline in the 70s.

Anna Campbell said...

Louisa, I was thinking about featuring Dark Victory but I thought people might know NV better. Bette again goes through a major character arc in that film - I remember her walking up the stairs at the end and getting really teary. They really did know how to milk a poignant finish in the old days!

I agree with you about the operas.
La Traviata springs to mind. What a beautiful, poignant ending! Mind you, you wonder where she gets the voice from when she's karking it!

Anna Campbell said...

Molly, interesting choices! I must admit Moulin Rouge made me dizzy - all that lightning quick editing! Hardly knew where to look. A friend of mine was an extra on it in a couple of scenes - she has fabulous long curly hair so she was a courtesan and also in the theatre scene at the end. I STILL haven't managed to spot her!

Linley Maroney said...

"Oh, Alan Rickman! Sigh. He was a star of the Royal Shakespeare Company when I lived in England and I was an utter groupie (so was Kenneth Branagh)."

So... What you're saying there is Kenneth Branagh was an Alan Rickman groupie, too. Yes? ;-)

If you can handle the blood, Alan Rickman is also in Sweeney Todd with the ever brilliant (and going to leave his French girlfriend for me ONE day) Johnny Depp.

My tastes lean to the darker side so beware - while I might highly recommend a movie, that doesn't mean it's for everybody. Pan's Labyrinth is fabulous but it's pretty dark and has a few moments of strong violence. But don't let that put you off. It's a rich experience.

And don't take Van Helsing too seriously. It's very camp. :-P And Richard Roxburgh just about steals the show as Count Vladislaus Dracula. *droooools* (Trivia moment - he ended up marrying one of his vampire brides for real.)

I'd be interested to hear what you think of Pan's Labyrinth if you get round to seeing it. Or if you're in Sydney some time, pop over and watch it on my awesome TV and we'll split a bottle of something yummy. :-D