A good love story is like a piece of music that enraptures and entrances the mind and heart, gives wings and transports listeners and player alike to the fanciful location known as bliss. I have heard it said that reading a book is equivalent to spending hours at a time hallucinating vividly. A love story, well told, can give that same euphoria in the flavor of emotional hallucination.
Jane Espenson, who wrote Skin Deep, says in the commentary that the unlikely love stories are the most powerful. I know for me that is true and that Rumbelle sings in that special way. Of Once’s love stories, Rumbelle is my favorite and I freely disclose this bias.
Our interactions with love stories are personal, just as with music. The source material, Beauty and the Beast (yes the Disney version) is my favorite film in the Disney canon for many reasons which Once has captured brilliantly. Our hero is brainy and brave, an agent in her own life. Our beast is a tragic figure, someone downtrodden and alone whose mistakes haunt him. It is compassion and recognition of the unique and shiny personhoods within each other that draws these two into an inescapable understanding of the other. And then, to love.
This story sang to me as a child, but the key change brought on by adulthood and experience has made it no less sweet, just deeper and richer. Now I relate to the beast as well as Belle. I grew up the brainy (if not quite as lovely) nerd of Belle in the Disney film- loads of courage, head in my books and largely misunderstood by my peers. My story is not so uncommon, of course. With a few more years in the bank, I am also Mr. Gold with the limp of grievous injury who frequently feels beyond repair, true or not (emphasis on the not in his case and mine). It is the feelings we bring with us to a story that entrench us in its meaning more deeply and I’ve got my fair share of those.
The picture above is the kiss felt around the world. Jane Espenson says, again from the commentary, that “women across the world melted for this kiss.” Surely, though, it melted a few men too. This episode, thematically, Espenson goes on to say is about the fact that Rumple doesn’t feel worthy of love. I suspect this resonated so acutely because so many people in this day and age are lonely. The message is loud and clear: if this man, the Dark One, can love and be loved, so can I. And I am speaking collectively as well as personally. Robert Carlyle responds that he got “beautiful comments” from his Twitter followers about how this touched them, as it did me.
Sweetness alone, however, cannot sustain a story. In fact an antithetical moment in mid Season 4 is, for me, the most powerful moment in Once to date. *Spoiler Warning!* These two lost everything on a dark crappy night, cold and wet, out there at the town line. Unable to tolerate or ignore his terrible behavior another second longer, Belle banished her True Love forever. I am not sure I even noticed the remaining falling action of the episode through my tears the first time I saw Heroes and Villains. Nearly a year later we are still waiting to see if there is hope for Belle and Rumple.
What’s your moment?
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