A Bittersweet Romance In A Roman Holiday

Romantic movie Roman Holiday

A friend rang me up last week and during the conversation, he said that he was holidaying in Europe this summer. Among the cities he was visiting in Europe, one was Rome. The first words that came to my mind was Roman Holiday.

Movie Review: Roman Holiday

Roman Holiday (1953) is a bittersweet romance between a princess and a journalist, lasting only for a day. Roman Holiday is a film you can watch countless times and you will never get enough of it. I bet you will fall in love with Princess Anne (Audrey Hepburn). Love has many shades but with her, it is a sublime one. This was Audrey’s first film, and she sparkled. Petite, captivating, pensive, polite, gracious, charming, delightful, genial, courteous – one runs out of adjectives to describe Audrey Hepburn in this film. She is alternately majestic and naïve. Her sad expression when she stands, watching the man she loves and then turns her head to walk away from him is an absolute contrast to the marvellous ecstasy in her eyes when she realizes she has found true love.

Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), a Hollywood icon, offers a restrained thwart to her cheekiness. His attraction to her keeps him in turmoil with his professional impulses. Yes, he walks away from her finally, restraining himself with dignity. If the love had a happy ending he would become the prince of the princess. But no, you realize that the man of his stature could have done no less than restrain himself. Roman Holiday is a blend of being romantic but with a sweetness that will not make you diabetic, it’s humorous but not a slapstick comedy, it is tender like a tulip but does not deteriorate.

Roman Holiday princess scene
Image: Princess Anne

When the chemistry between Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn lights up, the city of Rome becomes beautiful and the Vespa scooter that they ride becomes awfully romantic.

If you ever make a list of romantic films, Roman Holiday would top the list. It is impossible to watch this film and not fall in love with Anne and Joe, or the whole idea of falling in love. It is impossible not to wish for such love, even if the ending is so poignant.

If there is one scene that symbolizes the saying ‘It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’, it is the last scene where Joe indirectly promises Princess Anne that her faith in him will not be deceived, and the look on her face when she knows it is goodbye. It is the only way the film could have ended. Finally Joe tells Anne, “Life isn’t always what one likes, is it?”

You are missing something unfathomable if you have not yet seen this film.

Interesting Movie Facts About Roman Holiday

  • At the beginning of this movie Audrey Hepburn was an upcoming British actress having starred successfully on Broadway. She was almost rejected during the audition for this film. During the audition, the cameraman kept the camera running even after the director called “cut” and her exuberance off-camera charmed the director.
  • Cary Grant was originally offered the role to play Joe Bradley. Grant felt that he would look too old opposite the young Hepburn and declined the role.
  • Gregory Peck insisted that the “introducing Audrey Hepburn” line be removed.
  • Gregory Peck said Audrey Hepburn should be given top billing alongside him.
  • Gregory Peck predicted Audrey Hepburn would win the Oscar for her role even before the film released, and he was proved right.
  • The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won three.
  • Audrey Hepburn won not only the Academy Award for best actress that year but also the BAFTA award and the Golden Globe for best actress for her portrayal of Princess Anne.
  • The Vespa ride scene is so iconic and influencing that the Vespa sales had risen to over 100,000 after the film released.
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