10 Best Ways the Movies Say I Love You

2. Casablanca (1942)

Casablanca Review

Sometimes the best way to show someone you love them is to let them go.

1942’s Casablanca is one of Hollywood’s greatest tragedies. Set in Morocco during World War II, American expatriate and cynical nightclub owner, Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), is in his nightclub when his former lover, Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), walks in one night. She is accompanied by her husband, Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), a fugitive and Czechoslovakian Resistance leader. Ilsa, still in love with Rick, says that she will stay with Rick when her husband escapes.

That doesn’t happen, of course. Rick and Ilsa are torn apart by the war, sacrificing their personal happiness for the greater good. Rick ultimately decides to let Ilsa go because of his love for her, because he knows that she would be safer and far more valuable to the cause if she leaves. In the climactic scene, Rick implores Ilsa to board the plane with her husband, not knowing if they will ever seen each other again. He remarks, “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

It is so perfectly in line with his character and speaks volumes about the weight of this decision.

1 . Titanic (1997)

It would be negligent if this list didn’t end with one of the greatest tragic love stories to ever grace the silver screen, the tale of Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) from James Cameron’s Titanic. Their doomed love captured the hearts of audiences when the film was released in 1997, and to this day it is still deeply affecting.

As the ship slowly sinks around them and chaos reigns, Rose tells Jack “You jump, I jump, right?” This is the culmination of everything they’ve been through in the few short days they’ve known each other. It doesn’t just mean “I love you,” it means “I trust you,” “I’m devoted to you,” and “I’ll follow you wherever you go”.

When Rose first meets Jack, she is hanging off the back of the ship, contemplating her life and how it is slowly sucking the passion out of her. Rose is being forced into a marriage with Cal Hockley (Billy Zane), son of a steel tycoon, in order to save her and her mother from destitution. Jack is in the complete opposite situation – poor, but free to make his own way in the world. When Jack sees Rose, he tries to get her to come back over the rail by announcing that he’s just going to have to jump in there after her.

Rose returns this favor by refusing to get on a lifeboat and running down into the bowels of the ship to save Jack, who is handcuffed to a pipe after being falsely accused of trying to steal The Heart of the Ocean necklace. By leaving her mother Cal behind, Rose leaves behind her old life as well. She now refuses to take orders from anyone but herself. Rose’s descent into the quickly flooding ship, wading into freezing water, shows the extent she is willing to go for the person she loves.

When Rose is once again presented with the chance to get on a lifeboat, she takes it, begrudgingly, after Jack insists. He knows he has little hope of surviving what’s to come, but as long as one of them makes it out, then it will be worth it. But Rose can’t do it. She physically can’t. With the music swelling, and Rose looking up at Jack as the lifeboat descends, the light from the flare shining in her eyes, she jumps back onto the ship. They run to each other, through the different levels of the ship and the panicked passengers, and embrace.

Jack tells Rose she’s stupid for doing that, which is true. Who in their right mind would willingly get back onto a sinking ship? But that’s maybe the point. Because love isn’t logical. The wonderful and heartbreaking truth about this moment is that when you love someone, you’d rather face death alongside them than save yourself.

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Love comes in all shapes and sizes and, like the real world, the movies are full of the many unspoken ways we let each other know we care. What’s your favorite way to say “I love you”? And what movie do you think says it best? Let us and everyone else know in the comments below, and be sure to follow @thefilmagazine on Facebook and X (Twitter) for more insightful movie lists.

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