Marriage is one of the most important commitments one makes to oneself and to the person he/she loves. Marriage requires much courage, integrity and clarity over the goals in life to walk into the sacred institution called marriage. People often feel extremely anxious before the wedding, often experiencing at times what is known as pre-marriage jitters. Marriage also being one of the most celebrated and important events of one’s life, females most of the time are over obsessed with the minutest details of their weddings. For some, weddings may be that one perfect day that they have visualized since their childhood, while for others it may be making commitment in the simplest manner with complete integrity and courage to the person they love. Stress over weddings differs from person to person. But often, apprehension and anxiety is part of the wedding game in one or the other form. The apprehensions related to the wedding day are mostly associated with brides whereas the emotional apprehension can be allied to grooms and brides alike. Many Hollywood/American movies over the years have been made to explore these apprehensions and anxieties, making the wedding a different theme of movies altogether. It is always fascinating to explore the anxious emotions on the screen since everyone goes through them at least once in a lifetime.
“Runaway Bride, Father of the Bride and Bride Wars demonstrate the conventional, sometimes stereotypical, depictions of women as obsessed with weddings and men and women both anxious with regards to the upcoming nuptials.”
The key points that would be covered in the paper would be as follows:
- Understanding of the cultural significance in pre-marriage apprehensions
- Study of different characters in the wedding based movies
- The Bride being the central character most often in a wedding based movie
- Conclusion and analysis of the thesis statement
I have selected two different films on wedding with the bride being the central character. In one of the films, the pre-marriage apprehension is in regards to the emotional and lifelong commitment whereas in another film the pre-marriage apprehension is about the D-day. The films selected for analysis in context to this paper are
- Runaway Bride
- Bride wars
Father of the Bride
These films have been discussed separately under this section.
Runaway bride is a classic romantic comedy made in 1999 with lead star casts in form of the finest actors, Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. The storyline of the film is based on the pre-marriage apprehension of Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts) who has the impression of a runaway bride. She had left three males waiting for her in the church on the wedding day, making her famous as a runaway bride. Meanwhile a New York reporter Ike Graham (Richard Gere) writes a column about Maggie Carpenter and is fired for several factual errors. He then embarks on the mission of finding the truth in order to write a comprehensive yet, detailed article about her to impress his immediate boss and get back his job. On reaching the small town of Hale, to find out nothing but the truth about her apprehensions, he finds her getting ready for her fourth marriage attempt with a football coach. In the process of discovering her, Ike falls in love with her and finds himself standing in the court; while Maggie once again falls trap to her marriage apprehension and runs away in a truck with Ike chasing her for a mile.
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Runaway bride is a witty romance with the key characters depicting the adult fears in the most compelling way. The chemistry between the key characters is the poignant point of the film. Julia Roberts comes very natural as a girl who is afraid of making commitments and is scared of big weddings. Her acting is highly persuasive as Maggie Carpenter who is lost and tries to impress the other person to be able to like her. Richard Gere on the other hand is attractive, smug, battered and lost like Maggie Carpenter. Fears, anxiety and hesitation are the focal point of this romantic wedding based movie. The movie gets on as one watches it several times. The small details in the film bring out the concern people have about themselves, such as “Maggie always lies about the kind of eggs she likes, with every groom her choice differs”, she lies because she is fearful about her original acceptance as a person and wants the other person to believe that she is what he wants or is looking for. While walking down the altar she realizes that what she is doing is a total lie and she is fearful and uneasy about the outcome of what would follow after the wedding when her real self comes out and hence she runs away. At first she hides her real self and then she runs from the altar every times she realizes what she has been doing.
Bride wars again is a romantic comedy based on the wedding pre-apprehensions in this case it’s the detailing about the D-Day that drives the two brides and best friends into enmity. Emma and Liv played by Kate Hudson and Anne Hathway are best friends since childhood. They both are obsessed about their wedding day and the venue they wish to get married at. The Plaza hotel is one of the most known wedding destination and they both have dreamt of their perfect wedding since they were little girls. Both the girls are proposed at the same time by their respective boyfriends and they decide to get married at the Plaza hotel after hiring the services of the same wedding planner. Due to administrative error one of their dates is sold to someone and now they both have to get married on the same date or else they will have to wait for three years to get married at the Plaza.
They both try to persuade each other to shift their wedding date but in vain. After a week they declare that neither of them will compromise either with the venue or with the date. Both the women try to sabotage each other’s wedding by ruining the party, or the tan or the hair color. It is their obsession with a perfect wedding, dress, look and feel that turns the best friends into enemies and the brides into bridezillas. Meanwhile the grooms also suffer because of their erratic obsession with the wedding and its preparations. They also try and ruin the wedding day by showing the tapes of their teenage maniac behavior at the altar which makes both the brides fight with each other in their wedding dresses. In the end they realize their mistake, meanwhile Anne Hathway’s groom is upset about her behavior and she tells him that she is not right for him and they call off their wedding. Liv’s wedding goes on as planned with the participation of her best friend. Emma then dances with Liv’s brother and ultimately marries him later.
Father of the Bride
Father of the Bride has been charmingly remade from its 1950 original screenplay, with Steve Martin as the embattled father who suffers new indignities at each stage of his daughter’s wedding plans.
This movie features on another aspect of pre wedding jitters which are experienced by neither the bride nor the groom, in fact by the ‘father of the bride’, who feels insecure to let go off his daughter as he doesn’t trust that anyone could love her as much as he did for the past 22 years.
Mr. Martin, whose presence here probably has more to do with his success in “Parenthood” than anything else, is first seen sitting in an armchair exactly as Tracy did, rubbing his sore feet and surveying the ruins of an extravagant wedding party. The film then flashes back to the point at which George Banks (Mr. Martin) and his wife, Nina (Diane Keaton), learned that their little Annie (Kimberly Williams) may be leaving the nest.
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The nest itself has moved to southern California from a starchier East Coast setting and is now conspicuously cluttered and brand-new. This time, when the Bankses go to meet their wealthy prospective in-laws, George doesn’t drink too much and talk their ears off. He experiences a sudden fit of nosiness and winds up floating in his hosts’ pool, clutching their bankbook while being snarled at by their guard dogs, in a routine that is much better suited to Mr. Martin’s comic talents.
Some of the new film’s other efforts to broaden the story are less successful, like the episode that has George going berserk in a grocery store and winding up in jail as a consequence of pre-wedding pressure.
Thomas Schatz (1981) and William Wright (1975) in context of the theme and its evolution look at it as
being separate from each other assuming that the new films are built on the earlier films of the same kind. On the emotional fear side we can see Runaway bride to be reworking on It Had to Be You made in 1947, where Ginger Rogers plays the original runaway bride running from her wedding on four occasions. Bride wars however can be seen in the lights of Wedding planner, (again obsession with the preparation of D-day), My Big Fat Greek Wedding and others.
In this case as well though the theme has been defined as Wedding, the underneath genre is of romance and comedy. Altman (1989) on the other hand states that genre is a set of semantic elements and achieves the real genre status when they complete a process of evolving an accompanying syntax. In the genre selected for this paper the semantic elements are the pre-marriage apprehension emotional and material, the later being correlated to the first one.
There were definite themes in the past but now is the time of hybridization which means that most of the movies are combination of two or more genre which gives birth to a new genre. Many critics of modern genre see this as the lack of innovative idea in the Hollywood whereas others such as Jim Collins (1995) view this as expected outcome of media awareness of the present day audience. In this case the two traditional form of genre are romantic and comedy giving rise to a new theme of Wedding romantic comedy. Though the central idea is related to nervousness and anxiety due to different reasons the presentation is borrowed from the style of traditional genre such as depicted in a romantic way where the characters at times can be intense or at times funny.
In these films the subject though wedding the central idea is completely different. In Runaway bride it is the commitment issues and the fear of “is this the right person for me”? Whereas in case of the Bride wars the fear is of not being able to have the visualized perfect wedding compared to the best friend that drives the madness in the wedding. With respect to Father of the Bride, the emotions are more related to the father’s concern for his daughter’s new life.
Talking about the American cultural significance in the pre-marriage apprehensions, love marriage is the norms in the U.S, people often marry due to their own reasons rather than arrange marriage. In spite of that, there are always commitment issues when it comes to making life-long commitment in terms of marriage. People often do not realize the gravity of commitment unless and until they reach the altar and many Hollywood movies are made on the same subject.
Marriage and wedding is beautiful subject because the correlation is instantaneous with the audience due to real life experience or expectation of that event to occur at some point of time. When we talk about wedding or marriage there are pre-marriage apprehensions and anxiety due to different reasons and most of the Hollywood films with the subject of marriage or wedding are based on the exploration of these emotions. The wedding genre can be tactfully associated with anxiety which is skillfully handled making use of romance, comedy and serious themes. But anxiety in most cases is part of the wedding based movies. The paper attempted to prove the same by taking three different films as examples- Bride wars, Runaway bride and Father of the Bride.
- Altman, R. (1989). The American Film Musical. London: BFI.
- Cohen, R. (1987). Do Postmodern Genres Exist? Genre, XX (3-4), 241-257
- Schatz, T. (1981). Hollywood Genres: Formulas, Filmmaking and the Studio System. NewYork: Random House.
- Wright, W. (1975). Six Guns and Society: a Structural Study of the Western. University of California Press, Berkley.
- Runaway Bride (1999)
- Bride Wars (2009)
- It had to be you (1947)
- The wedding Planner (2001)
- My Big fat Greek wedding (2002)
- Father of the Bride (1991)
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