AFTER THE ALTAR— Pick any movie out there, and there’s a pretty good chance it revolves around some sort of love story. Romance has been a huge topic in cinema from the very beginning, particularly the “happily ever after” we see over and over again. The “happily ever after” that movies usually end with is a declaration of love, and ultimately marriage.
Marriage is the culmination of almost everything Hollywood values about love. The funny thing is, though, love and life don’t end at the altar.
Then what happens after the wedding day? As an audience, we seem to be far more intrigued by the dating and courtship of a relationship than the commitment of one. It is surprisingly difficult to find great marriages in the movies, especially in the last 20 years. If they do exist, they are usually on the outskirts of the plot instead of the focus of the movie.
More often than not, marriage is precisely the conflict of any movie that takes place after the couple is wed. This is not to say that movies portraying struggling marriages are bad. Marriage can be difficult and it does take a lot of work. Many movie marriages are enhanced and made stronger through the difficult times. This can be inspiring for couples in any point in their relationship.
But why is there such a lack of movies celebrating successful and happy marriages? Even more specifically, why are wives and husbands shown as uninteresting or undesirable, while bachelors and bachelorettes are gorgeous and exciting? Is the common movie portrayal of marriage a reflection of the ideas our society holds of marriage, or could the movies be influencing contemporary perceptions of love and commitment?