Grab a Kleenex for this one. In this scene from Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990), Juliet Stevenson plays an amateur pianist named Nina whose boyfriend recently died. As Nina is grieving at her piano, she’s imagining her late boyfriend (a professional cellist) playing his duet part in Bach’s Sonata No.3 for Cello & Piano.
Suddenly, Nina realizes the cello part she’s hearing is actually real. That’s because her boyfriend (played by Alan Rickman) has returned from the afterlife to be with her.
This scene, and the unpredictable plot that follows, was so powerful it compelled the BBC to scrap their plans to debut the film on British TV and instead send it straight to movie theaters.
For director Anthony Minghella, it was the smash hit that brought every major US movie studio to his doorstep, launching a string of Oscar winners including The English Patient (1996), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), and Cold Mountain (2003).
When I played this scene for my fiancé, she said, “They don’t make movies like this anymore.”
The verbal interplay between Nina and Jamie (Rickman’s character) occurs inside such supernatural – yet familiar – circumstances; the story takes you into the emotional cracks and crevices that exist between husband and wife in a way that can only fiction can. Non-fiction (i.e. celebrity autobiographies, local TV news & tabloids, historical essays) dares not go to such places.
The ending is what gets me (*spoiler alert). As it turns out, you can’t be married to someone who is technically a ghost. Life doesn’t work that way. At the end of the story, in a nine-word exchange between Rickman and one of his fellow ghosts, we realize his whole purpose for returning from the dead was to give his beloved girlfriend a way to take him off the pedestal; and move on with her life.
Roger Ebert called Truly, Madly, Deeply “‘Ghost‘ for grown-ups”. Great movie. Check it out.
Mike Bielenberg is a professional musician and co-founder of http://www.musicrevolution.com, a production music marketplace with over 48,000 tracks online where media producers, video producers, filmmakers, game developers, businesses and other music buyers can license high-quality, affordable royalty-free music from an online community of musicians. email@example.com.