In the streets of Little Italy, New York (Kempley 1988), a drama unfolds that captures the heart and woos the mind, and makes one fall in love all over again. Moonstruck by Norman Jewison (Kim nd) is the movie that does it all. Released in 1987 and based in Brooklyn, New York, this movie is a romantic comedy that twists and turns around the beams of moonlight (Kempley 1988), and sways the life and hearts of the characters in the plot with its phases and magic. Each one of the characters in the movie is struck (Kempley 1988) by the lovelorn shine of the moon, and the movie is a depiction of the highs and lows and unexpected turns that their lives take.
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Director Jewison has remarkably incorporated the idea of getting moonstruck into a romantic comedy (Kempley 1988), and the plot and the direction all do justice to the concept. The theme behind the movie is simple; love is unexpected, and there are shades and phases to it just like there are shades and phases to the moonlight (Kempley 1988).
The aim of this paper is to examine the way this movie associates the theme of moon and moonlight into its plot and direction, and the effects and effectiveness of the imagery of the moon used in the movie. For that, there first has to be a general discussion of the plot to reveal the storyline and the theme of the movie.
Loretta Castorini, played by the talented Cher, is a bookkeeper in Brooklyn, New York (Erickson 2009). Thirty-seven years old and widowed, she is as careful about relationships and marriage as she is repressed (Kempley 1988) and sensible. After losing her husband in a bus accident (Kim nd) years earlier, she is averse to the idea of falling in love or getting smitten again. This is not to say that she has given up on men altogether; she is, in fact, engaged to be married to a guy named Johnny Cammerari, a safe, mellow, good-natured (Kim nd) man that Loretta feels would be a perfect match for her. At least he knows how to propose properly (Erickson 2009), and that is as good as Cher wants it to be at that stage in her life. Rose, Cher’s mother, played by the wonderful Olympia Dukakis, having married out of love herself and now on the suspicions of being cheated on (Kim nd), commends Cher’s decision of not marrying out of love; “Good,” she says, “When you love them, they drive you crazy, 'cause they know they can" (Kim nd).
However, as fate would have it, Johnny has to fly to Italy immediately to tend to his sick mother, and leaves all the arrangements for the marriage for Loretta (Erickson 2009). As a part of those arrangements for Loretta to try and reconcile Johnny’s estranged (Kempley 1988) younger brother, Ronny, played by the amazing Nicholas Cage. As Loretta is to discover, Ronny is the complete opposite of Johnny (Kim nd). Passionate, impulsive, moody, (Kim nd) and headstrong, Ronny is everything Loretta is not looking for, and exactly what she falls head-over-heals (Kempley 1988) for. In a scene where Loretta succumbs to the love-moves of Ronny, saying, “I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care,” (Kempley 1988) they both make love and get smitten to each other. Loretta, however, regrets the new development in her love life, and both vow not to disclose the secret, on Ronny condition that they go for one last date to a play, which only helps to strengthen their love for each other (Kempley 1988). It doesn’t help that Loretta finds her father cheating on her mother in the same venue as she is cheating on her fiancée (Kempley 1988), and so her mother’s suspicions about her father and her observations about love are confirmed. But as fate would have it, Johnny returns soon and breaks off the engagement out of reasons of his own, and Loretta and Ronny get together after Ronny proposes to her (Kempley 1988).
There are many subplots running through the movie, especially enveloping the lives of the older generation in the movie (Kempley 1988). The most obvious and poignant of them is the story of Loretta parents, the way her father cheats on her mother and her mother forgives, having survived a flirtatious attempt herself by a college professor (Erickson 2009). This only goes on to strengthen the movie’s theme that love is as dynamic as the changing moon; you have to give in to its beauty because you hardly have a control over yourself, but you also have to prepared for its many phases (Kempley 1988) and the many shades of its light. Loretta and Ronny are also faced with these possibilities (Kempley 1988), but they accept love with all its twists and turns, and get bathed in the silvery moonlight with all its highs and lows. Loretta’s parents, once madly in love, also survive infidelity, but come out victorious, and Rose learns that it is within he grasp to learn to forgive. The movie starts with all of the Brooklyn flooded in the moonlight (Kempley 1988), and towards the end of it, everyone has been struck by it (Kempley 1988). The title of the movie and moon imagery used in it go hand in hand to enhance the theme of the movie, and to compliment it.
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