REVIEW: free Amazon Prime movie: “The Book and The Rose” (2001)

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“Tell me who you love and I will tell you who you are.”

To all the romantics out there: do you wish you had time to spend a lazy day binge-watching Hallmark Channel movies or your all-time favorite romcoms, but you just don’t have that kind of time?

I’ve got a solution for you: the short film The Book and the Rose (30 min)

As I was reading Pamela Redmond Satran’s book How Not to Act Old, I was reminded of the following quote from this movie, which I saw a few years ago (and watched again yesterday).

“I’m as old as everything I’ve ever done,

and as young as everything I still want to do.”

~~ Sarah’s reply when John asks about her age

Do you like a good “meet cute”?  Enjoy the pen pal aspect of You’ve Got Mail (or Shop Around the Corner)?  This film will make your heart happy.

Since this is a review of a short film, I will let my words be few (relatively few, anyway).

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Semi-finalist 2003 Academy Award for Best Short Film.

Winner of 27 awards; 56 film festivals.

Set in 1942.  Philadelphia, PA & Huntington, WV.

The screenplay is based on Max Lucado’s short story “The People with the Roses” (included in his book And the Angels Were Silent).  Or you can read it here (click on “Short Story”in the menu) — interesting to compare, particularly to see how Jeff Bemiss expanded on Lucado’s approximately forty sentences.

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If you asked me for a plot summary, I would say something like:

A man spends $1.50 to buy a first edition of Anna Karenina, only to find its margins filled with the thoughts of the book’s previous owner.  After tracking down an address for the woman who scribbled and underlined Tolstoy’s masterpiece, he begins exchanging letters with her.

In Sarah’s reply to John’s first letter:

“That’s what reading a book is to me –

lingering over the parts I like, recording my thoughts and feelings.  

As long as I can remember, books have been my diary.”

Books are like that for me too – fiction and non-fiction alike.  In fact as a teen, I carried a paperback anthology of poetry with me everywhere I went.  I would write the date when I first read each poem and underline words or phrases that had significance for me, as well as writing my thoughts in the margin.  Sometimes, I would reread old favorites and add new thoughts.  I still have that book with my writing filling most of the pages.  It is interesting how my penmanship (and choice of ink color) has changed over time – although still recognizably mine, it is clearly penned with a less mature hand.  It is far more interesting to see where my thinking has remained the same and where it now differs.

John wrote to Sarah:

“Every time I write you, every time I read you, I feel a bit of my life happening.”

Getting to know someone through their handwritten comments is a romantically appealing notion to me.  I suppose that the modern day equivalent would be activating the popular highlighting of other readers on e-books … or live tweeting during a tv show or movie.

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No matter the time period, the form of communication, or the method of transportation, it is our interaction with people and their ideas that shapes our lives – ourselves and our days.  Be present and view the life around you with soft, receiving eyes.  Take it all in.  Do not preemptively discard things, people, or ideas that may turn out to be life-changing and defining.

“A month doesn’t pass, that I don’t think about it.  How close I came …

I was looking for a beautiful woman, and almost missed the love of my life.”

I hope you enjoy the movie both for its love story and its philosophical reminders.  And that you find (or make) a little time to kick back, relax, laugh … do something nice for yourself and someone else.

“Tell me who you love and I will tell you who you are.”

Creole proverb; handwritten by Sarah in margin of book

Until next time.


P.S.   Things you may find interesting:

*     Interview with director and screenwriter Jeff Bemiss — print interview CLICK HERE

*    “Sarah’s Theme” by composer Gregg Conser — CLICK HERE

*     Screenplay  (click on “Shooting Script” in the menu) — HERE

*     Behind the scenes photos — CLICK HERE

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