Great Dates – Ever Had One?

Ever since I recently watched Out Of Africa for the umpteenth time, I’ve been thinking about great dates—in cinema and in real life.

The great date in Out of Africa is Denys (Robert Redford) taking Karen (Meryl Streep) on safari. In the middle of the Kenyan highlands, he sets up camp—the requisite tent, along with a table and tablecloth, silverware/crystal/china (?) plates, and wine. They dine by candlelight and later dance to Mozart playing on the portable phonograph. (How did Denys transport all that stuff in good condition? How did Karen get her white dress so clean and wrinkle-free?) I have no idea what they ate for dinner, but with Denys’s attention to detail, I’m sure it was exotic and delicious.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think Denys’s primary intention was to get Karen in the sack out in the wilderness. (Although I would wager it was somewhere on his To-Do list.) I think he really wanted to show her the land and life that he loved. I think he wanted to know her better. And I think he wanted to hear more of her stories!

At dinner Karen asks, “Why am I here?”

Denys replies, “Because I knew you would like it.”

Good answer. In other words, it was all about her.

Another great date cinematically was in Before Sunrise. This one is between Jesse (an American college student played by Ethan Hawke) and Celine (a French student played by Julie Delpy) who meet on a train in Vienna and traipse around the city all day into night. The movie ends at dawn when Jesse has to catch another train.

Jesse and Celine have their second date nine years later in Paris in the movie Before Sunset (same actors reprising their roles).

In the first movie it’s a delight to watch Jesse and Celine get to know each other and connect on a romantic and philosophical level. The sequel explores the notion of a soul mate/Mr. Right/Ms.Right for everyone—besides having the best/most real dialogue ever. One of my favorite lines in Before Sunset is when Jesse tells Celine that he remembers that one night with her (nine years previously) more than he can remember entire years. (Nice compliment.)

The last scene takes place in Celine’s apartment. She kills me when she explains to Jesse why she likes the singer Nina Simone. The two lines of dialogue at the end are also terrific. But I won’t divulge them so as not to reveal the ending.

[NOTE: Julie Delpy is spectacular in these movies. It’s a shame she hasn’t had a bigger career in American cinema. If you like Before Sunset, you might try Two Days in Paris, starring Julie Delpy. She also wrote, directed, and edited it, as well as composed the music and sings in it—amazing!]

Along with Out of Africa, the Sunrise/Sunset movies deserve blogs of their own so I can sing their praises longer and louder. For the few people who aren’t familiar with these films,  you MUST see them. These are also great ones to watch for Valentine’s Day. Especially if you’re a fan of a “boy-meets-girl and they have a great time” story, which is what you’d like to have, too.

And even better than a boy-meets-girls story in a movie is one that happens in real life.

Do you have a “great date” tale of your own? I’m sure you can recall the special ones.

I remember a great date from high school. It was with Paul, who I had known since fifth grade. He was the reason I quit piano lessons (he lived next door to my piano teacher) and the reason I took up the clarinet (if I played an instrument, I got out of boy-girl dancing, which horrified me in elementary school). I’ve written about the almost-going-steady-with-him episode in sixth grade in another blog in the Relate category.

Fast forward from sixth grade to twelfth grade for our one and only date. But it was memorable. So memorable, it also deserves a blog of its own. Stay tuned….




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