For my essay I picked Rob Reiner’s movie “When Harry Met Sally” (1989). At the beginning of the movie two completely different people – Harry and Sally, are to drive together to New York after finishing University of Chicago to start their lives, as Sally said “so something can happen to me”. As it turns out, they cannot find a common opinion on any subject to agree on and both of them consider their acquaintance quite obnoxious and awkward. Few years after that, they accidently meet each other at the airport. By that time Harry is about to get married and Sally had just started a new relationship. Just like the first time they met, they have hard time finding common ground (giving a visual theme of one of the songs in a movie “Let’s call the whole thing off” by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald) and their “friendship” ends as soon as the plane they shared lands. Five years later while going through divorce Harry meets Sally again. This time they do not have anyone to rush to, since Sally had also just broken up with her boyfriend, and on destiny’s third try their friendship starts. Going through each other’s hard break up times together brings them much closer, up to the point when sex gets on the way of friendship, proving Harry’s theory about men and women not being able to be friends. By the end of the movie they realize that they love each other and that what is going on between two of them is not just friendship. There are also a few short love stories told by senior couples inserted throughout the whole movie between the scenes, which also lets us understand that the theme of the film is love, no matter how different and unusual it can be.
While watching the movie attentively I realized that I have never seen a picture in which so much attention is delicately paid to timing or time in general. The first senior couple had known each other for two weeks before they got married and they had been together for 50 years. You might wonder - are these numbers as important as the actual story of their love? Turns out that questions like when, how long, what time of the week, year or life seem to be the motive force of the film. Their drive to New York lasts 18 hours – 6 shifts three hours each; when Harry and Sally meet for the second time he guesses for how long she has been dating Joe – one month; Sally breaks up with Joe on Monday and Harry finds out he is getting divorced on Friday, even though his wife has booked movers a week before that; senior couple number two also brings up dates and numbers – their first marriage lasted three years, and 40 years after divorce they got married again. The time subject can be noticed even in the title “When Harry Met Sally”, and the real issue is – when did Harry meet Sally?
If you still do not agree with the importance of time concept in a movie, look at how time does not only mean a lot in a script, but also helps to understand and describe our two main characters and mostly the “potato - potatho” problem between them. “See there's your problem, somewhere between thirty seconds and all night is your problem” says Harry to Sally on their second reencounter. Right he is, except for the fact that somewhere there is THEIR problem. Sluggish and gradual introvert Sally sometimes feels uncomfortable around expressive and brisk extravert Harry, and as a friend asks him “to try and find a way of not expressing every feeling that you have, every moment that you have them”. She is waiting for the right time and place for things, while he already misses his college girlfriend even before he leaves her, gets married early and deals with problem of how long do you have to lie there after a lucky date – is 30 seconds enough? The scene where Sally is putting her mail one by one into the mailbox and Harry gets tired of watching her look at each letter, grabs them and throws all together, is a perfect example of how do these two get along. For him days go by slowly and he has to rush things up, while she needs much more time to think in order to do things properly and the way she wants them done (for example ordering dinner in a restaurant).
Harry: Why can't we get past this? I mean, are we going to carry this thing around forever?
Sally: Forever? It just happened!
Harry: It happened three weeks ago. You know a year to a person is like seven years to a dog?
Sally: Yes. Is one of us supposed to be a dog in this scenario?
Sally: Who is the dog?
Harry: You are.
The man from senior couple number three does not remember names of his wives, but never forgets the one he married first. Couple number two was separated in high school and 34 years later they met again and lived happily ever after. Time heals all wounds, gives experience, sets people apart and makes them forget this, but the most striking ability of time is not erasing memories or teaching life lessons – it is determining what should not be forgotten. Harry and Sally meet three times, all of them accidently, and it can easily be called destiny. But what if destiny is just the right timing? What if time is just something that knows better? It seems that a woman saying “he is the most obnoxious man I have ever met” just has to meet this man a few more times to realize that he is the one.
Despite main characters’ disagreement on what is the right speed of life, there is one scene where Sally cannot dissent. In the end of the movie Harry understands the nature of his feelings to Sally and runs to find her at the New Years Eve party as quick as possible to tell her what he had just realized: “I came here tonight because when you realise you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of the life to start as soon as possible.” And that is when Harry met Sally.
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