The Notebook (2004) Film Essay – Every Great Love starts with a Great Story!

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Love is a feeling of attraction, or in the words of science, a surge in oxytocin levels in the brain, which kick up dopamine and serotonin, the ‘happy’ hormones. But if love were to be defined as simply as that, we wouldn’t have had countless works on the very concept over the centuries. Although the influence of those works dies down, the romanticism behind it is sempiternal. The Notebook (2004) directed by Nick Cassavetes, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks is a beautiful portrayal of how love can be mad, stupid, and yet seemingly powerful.

 “So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s going to be really hard; we’re gonna have to work at this everyday, but I want to do that because I want you.”

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The Notebook commences with Duke, an old man reading out to Ms. Hamilton, an elderly woman struck by dementia in the same old age home. Duke reads her the tale of two lovers, Noah (played by Ryan Gosling) and Allie (played by Rachel McAdams) from a diary.

The first scene of The Notebook where the protagonists first see each other is set at a fair, which may be a metaphorical expression of the lively nature of youth seen in the characters of both Noah and Ellie. The first moment they share is enough to reveal Noah’s gallant nature, Ellie’s prudent yet fun-loving self, all mixed with a warm sense of humor.

Every Great Love starts with a Great Story!

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The thing about love is that it fills empty hearts, which is alluring, and so bewitching too, the way it drains the heart when lost. That was something common between the otherwise disparate Noah and Allie, neither had known how happy they could be before they had met the other. 

“You are the answer to every prayer I’ve offered. You are a song, a dream, a whisper, and I don’t know how I could have lived without you for as long as I have.”

While Noah struggled to make ends meet, Allie despite having everything materially available is charmed by Noah’s simplicity and persistent character. Even having all her dad’s money at her disposal, she found her solace in painting.

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But as much as love is about rainbows and butterflies, its absence is dark. It hurts, and that happened to both of them. Differences, the thing that brought them together was what separated them, and the film proceeds with both of them moving on with their lives. 

Allie doing exceptionally well in her studies and meeting the perfect man for her, and Noah reaching the pinnacle of what he thought his dreams were, making a house out of the ruins he so loved. Practically, they had everything one needs. Everything made sense until they ran into each other again which shattered the perfect picture of the world the two of them had built for themselves. The craziness associated with love broke through the practicality.

As good as the two were without each other, the world seemed empty. Ellie had stopped painting, the only thing that brought her closer to the self, and Noah had lost his vibrant self. Separation hit them so hard that the two of them lost their sense of themselves. That’s how love is so much about us than the person we share it with. The feeling of completeness, the fulfillment in our heart, the serenity in our soul is all things that come along with love.

“I wrote you 365 letters. I wrote to you every day for a year. It wasn’t over… it still isn’t over.”

The Notebook appeals to every generation and tends to get every heart throbbing and every eye moist, which makes it nothing less than a masterpiece in terms of its portrayal of love. The story is a model to behold for the current generation so lost in life that a tale of such true love would have a lasting effect. The film wraps up in the most emotional and delightful manner, also successfully delivering the message of however freakishly insane the feeling of love is, it leaves the imprint of a great sense of wisdom with it.

“If you take care of things, they last”

Written By – Arjun Dev


The Notebook is streaming on Netflix.

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