“Love Story” – the Love Melodrama of All Time

Love Story


Title: “Love Story”

Release Date: 1970

Director: Arthur Hiller

Cast: Ali MacGraw, Ryan O’Neal, John Marley, Ray Milland


“When you love, you don’t have to apologize” – this phrase uttered by the characters of “Love Story” has become an iconic slogan that has permeated pop culture. Interestingly, Arthur Hiller’s film, completely differed in aesthetics and message from other cinematic images of the period. Indeed, this was an era of flower child contestation, abounding in avant-garde works and negating the traditional order of values. Despite this, the moving love story of two young people who are separated by an unexpected death won the hearts of viewers and still retains an emotional freshness today. “Love Story” with its magnificent Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning music by Francis Lai and great performances by Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal is undoubtedly one of the most famous melodramas of all time.

“Love Story” – a story about love

“Love Story” is a film that tells the story of the several-year relationship of Jennifer Cavalieri (Ali MacGraw) and Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O’Neal). The couple meets while studying at Harvard. She is a budding pianist, the daughter of a poor confectioner, while he, a hockey player and law student, hailing from an old, extremely wealthy family. Attractive, feisty and intelligent Jenny impresses Oliver with her charm and sincerity. Despite the fact that the girl constantly calls the boy a “buffoon” from a private school, love between the two is inevitable. Oliver’s parents, however, do not want to accept their son’s choice, considering their marriage an unacceptable misalliance and a manifestation of youthful rebellion on the part of their son.

The protagonist therefore breaks off contact with his family, and, deprived of a scholarship and financial resources, must face the challenge of supporting himself. The couple marries, and after the wedding they both work and stay up late to earn money to complete Barrett’s dream studies. When Oliver receives his diploma, he manages to get a great job and the young couple is able to move into a posh apartment. They decide to try to have a child. Unfortunately, during the research, it turns out that Jenny is sick with leukemia. Oliver asks his father for money, but the father, not knowing about the disease, does not show much willingness to help. After a few months Jenny dies. Leaving the hospital, Oliver meets his father, whom he forgives, and then goes to the skating rink, where Jenny liked to admire his skating and, heartbroken, remembers his beloved.

Love Story 1970 movie review

Arthur Hiller’s recipe for “Love Story”

Arthur Hiller made “Love Story” in 1970, an era of cultural contestation. Hippies in the US and Europe were presenting their idea of pacifism and free love. All tradition was challenged, and the institution of marriage became a symbol of moral entrapment and sanctioning of double morality. The cinema was dominated by avant-garde images, depicting heroes experiencing mental torment and exuding sexual liberation. Meanwhile, Hiller filmed an almost classic melodrama about two loving people who overcome all obstacles to be together, and yet bad fate forever separates them.

In “Love Story” there are no scenes of kinky sex, the characters are sure of their feelings from the beginning, and they enter into marriage with a clear appreciation of the role of this institution. Only Oliver’s conflict with his parents and the couple’s attitude to religion can be regarded as elements of contestation. Despite the fact that the girl’s father, a Catholic with Italian roots, expresses hope for a sacramental marriage, the characters declare themselves atheists who do not want to be hypocrites, paying homage to empty traditions. Outside of this, however, Jenny and Oliver’s lives are perfectly ordinary: working, studying, hoping to improve their financial situation and having children. These are simple, unexaggerated dreams, common to most people. And paradoxically, such a formula proved to be a recipe for success. For viewers were pining for beautiful, moving stories with deep truths. “Love Story” thus became the most watched film of 1970, and eventually entered the classics of love melodramas.

“Love Story: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”.

“Love Story” is a story about the forgiving power of love. The phrase “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” has become the cult text of the decade for good reason and has passed into the vernacular. It is first uttered in the film by Jenny to Oliver after an argument, during which the man loses his temper and almost throws the girl out of the house. The protagonist then runs after his beloved and searches for her all day in vain around the city to the sound of a memorable tune by Francis Lai, which became a real hit.

Love Story film analysis

This situation is an anticipation of the later one, when Oliver loses Jenny forever and when he feels guilty that his wife, instead of conquering the world and going to Paris on a scholarship, worked so that he could finish his studies. It can be said that the final scene in front of the hospital is, so to speak, a structural repetition of that evening after the argument. This time, however, it is Olivier who repeats Jenny’s words to his father, an act of his unconditional forgiveness and love.

“Love Story” is therefore also a story about love changing the characters. For, thanks to Jenny, Oliver will see in his father a deeply hidden affection and parental concern. In 1978, a sequel was made, directed by John Korty and titled “Oliver’s Story,” but it did not arouse as much interest among viewers as this somewhat sentimental but undoubtedly beautiful film, which appealed to audiences with its simple elegance and sincerity, and even today one can be moved to tears during its screening.