Categories
Cult Column Culture Film

Cult Column: When Harry Met Sally

The leaves are turning brown, and the scarves are coming out to play. You’re back in your flat, freezing under a duvet and what do you decide to watch? Maybe an episode of Gilmore Girls – but you’ve been watching that all week. You can’t watch Harry Potter anymore and Fantastic Mr Fox is too emotionally demanding so what do you choose? You’re scrolling through and you spot it, there in all its glory. A timelessly amazing autumnal film, one that perhaps transcends what it even means to be an autumn film (or a Rom-Com at that!), When Harry Met Sally.

This film is autumn. The palette of deep reds and light browns, the characters in bookshops, having cosy lunches and watching films in bed. Their wholesome friendship and longing glances make this uplifting film all we need on a cold evening. Afterall, what says autumn more than browsing bookstores, hot drinks, and Mike Wazowski’s voice?

To me, autumn is a time for new beginnings. New year, new school, new work ethic (that you are regretting not getting into sooner at this point in the term). Both Harry and Sally are starting their lives in a big and scary city, filled with so much chance and opportunity. They are entering adulthood, seemingly prepared and undaunted for the future; this is emphasised by their naïve façades of confidence. The title When Harry Met Sally indicates that the first time they meet is defining, they dislike each other, or do not understand one another. The film itself has a focus on their growth, especially Harry’s, as he becomes a less obnoxious and a more empathetic person.

Harry meets Sally on a car journey to New York. Harry is ‘going with’ a good friend of Sally’s, who in fact is such a good friend of hers that Sally and Harry don’t ‘make it’ on that car journey. Harry sets the tone of the movie with his argument that men and women can’t be friends because the ’sex part’ always gets in the way. Sally disagrees, but sort of accepts what Harry says. The way both characters interpret what their friendship with each other means throughout the film demonstrates their growth. Friendship is just as important as a relationship to men and women as they learn so much from it throughout. As a modern audience, we tend to disagree with this fact, and as the film progresses, so does Harry, even though [SPOLIER] the sex does end up getting in the way of their friendship. 

When Harry and Sally part ways after their ride to the city, unaware of the journey they are about to have together in the future, Harry announces that because of this theory, they cannot be friends. Sally responds, “That’s too bad. You were the only person I knew in New York.” This line has so much feeling. That isolation of being in a new place and knowing nobody, starting a new beginning completely alone. It sets a sad tone for their relationship and causes the audience to long for their return. That being said, they are constantly drawn to each other as they bump into one another again and again. And in the autumn their ‘love,’ whether that be platonic or romantic, finally begins to blossom.

Films set in New York city, with cynical characters like Harry, will always have a place in my heart.  Just watching them pacing in beautiful apartments, fluttering through stylish dinners, and attending grand parties, as they slowly falling in love is so enjoyable. After all, “It’s autumn in New York that brings the promise of new love”.

Image “When Harry Met Sally” by Dennis Amith is licensed by CC BY-NC 2.0.