Walking the Extra Mile: The Merits of A Walk to Remember and The Magic of Ordinary Days
By Hannah Price
There is something extraordinary about love stories, something that makes them stand out against all others. The simple scenario of two people falling in love is so endearing that no matter how many times the story is told it never seems to get old. And indeed, the story is told over and over again. With so much entertainment that focuses on romance, one can become hard-pressed to find something truly exceptional. The films A Walk to Remember and The Magic of Ordinary Days are such stories, exceptional and full of heart.
For those unfamiliar with the stories of A Walk to Remember and The Magic of Ordinary Days, the plotlines are simple and sweet. A Walk to Remember tells the story of a girl named Jamie and a boy named Landon who fall for one another during the course of their high school senior year. Jamie’s good-girl behavior and personality win over Landon’s bad-boy ways and their love helps him mature into an honorable man. The fact that she has terminal cancer brings them to a bittersweet conclusion, but this is also a key developmental element to their story. The Magic of Ordinary Days is about the educated and ambitious Olivia (Livy), who becomes pregnant out of wedlock and is coerced by her father into an arranged marriage. Her new husband, Ray, is a man she has never met before and his modest farmer’s life is a far cry from Livy’s previous existence. Though it takes the duration of Livy’s pregnancy, the couple eventually grows to love one another and the film promises the beginning of a long and happy life for them.
Evidently, these two films are very different. They take place in different time periods; A Walk to Remember is set in the modern day while The Magic of Ordinary Days is set during World War II. The circumstances surrounding both couples, their manner of courtship, their personalities and ultimate endings are also very different. However, these movies are linked by several shared traits that unite them into a pair of romance films worthy of admiration and emulation.
The first trait that these stories share is a strong leading man. In Landon’s case, he doesn’t start out as the dashing hero, but rather as an irresponsible youth. Under Jamie’s patient, Christ-like influence, Landon grows and changes, maturing into a man worthy of her love and of the audience’s respect. On the other hand, Ray is an already mature and responsible man when the audience is introduced to him. He is extremely reserved and quiet, but given his circumstance of marrying a complete stranger, this is completely understandable. The audience is at first unsure of him, as is Livy, but Ray’s patience, kindness and devotion win over all parties and he quickly becomes recognized as a truly virtuous hero. Landon (after his transformation) and Ray are two special men for the audience to admire, men whom women should fall for. They exude patience, kindness, integrity, unwavering devotion, pure intentions and deference, virtues that every woman should look for in a potential husband and virtues that every man should strive for.
The second trait of these films is a relationship between the lead couple that is devoid of sexual immorality. True, Livy enters The Magic of Ordinary Days pregnant outside of wedlock, but her previous actions are never condoned. Indeed, this film focuses on the consequences of Livy’s mistake and her remorse over “giving up her life just to be held by a stranger.” Livy’s relationship with Ray is redeeming, giving her a new lease on life with a man who would never have seduced and abandoned her like the father of her baby did. In the case of Landon and Jamie, their relationship is always sexually pure. There are hints at past indiscretions from Landon’s unruly days, but his relationship with Jamie is free of anything “indiscrete.” Jamie is committed to purity and her attitude comes to be shared by Landon. Their love is based on mutual trust and respect and as a result, the purity of their romance feels natural and never forced. The positive way these two movies treat sexual purity is a major advantage, especially considering the impact entertainment has on public opinion.
The third trait of these two films is a romance surrounded by circumstances that are entirely plausible. Female viewers can identify with Livy and Jamie, and even if cancer or out-of-wedlock pregnancies aren’t issues in your life, you can easily put yourself in either of these two women’s shoes. Livy and Jamie’s insecurities, fear and broken pride are issues that everyone can understand, adding authenticity to their stories. If Livy had instantly fallen for Ray and accepted her new life as a farmer’s wife without hesitation, her story would have been unrealistic. The fact that she has a hard time giving up her ambition of becoming a archeologist, struggles with being married to a man she hardly knows and worries that she will never become a good housewife for Ray are factors that make Livy human and authentic. For Jamie, her battle with cancer, fears that she will never get married or fulfill her greatest dreams, dealing with an overprotective father and relationship struggles with Landon are issues that lend her story credibility. Jamie’s emotional strength never crumbles under physical weakness and her determination to bring out the best in Landon leads to the fulfilling of her most important dreams. However, Jamie never credits her accomplishments to herself but to God, pointing to the fact that God can work miracles and turn impossible dreams into reality.
This leads to the fourth shared trait of these films. The romance of Landon and Jamie and Ray and Livy includes recognition of divine love and grace. This is more explicitly evident in A Walk to Remember because Jamie is an outspoken Christian, something that impacts everything she does and is a major factor in Landon’s transformation. Still, God’s mercies work in subtle ways in The Magic of Ordinary Days too. Livy’s father is a pastor, but his strict treatment of her is a sad reminder of judgment that is not softened by mercy. The flip side is the treatment Livy receives from Ray and his family, a true picture of Christ-like love. This love shines bright in Livy’s darkness and one of the most poignant moments of the film is where she thanks Ray and his family for the “love and forbearance” that she has been given, having “learned more about love in six months” spent with their family “than in twenty-five years” at her father’s house.
So many stories focus on the age-old belief in “love at first sight.” A Walk to Remember and The Magic of Ordinary Days portray romance that comes into being over time and couples who grow to love one another. Their relationships are not based on physical attraction so much as a deep emotional connection, mutual respect and sincere desire to support one another. This kind of love is truly beautiful, turning these stories into films you don’t have to be ashamed of sighing over; hoping for a similar experience in your own life.
Originally published in Femnista - www.charity'splace.com - )