Since primordial times we are eager to hear a good story, especially if it’s about love. Stories have the power to transform and inspire and, for sure, they teach us lessons. One such story – “The Gift: A Different Love Story” – is a Chilean short animation that portrays an ordinary couple that falls in love. Here’s the plot:
To prove his feelings, the man gives his love interest the gift of his heart. The woman cherishes it, and she is the center of the man’s attention. Their days pass in dancing, serenading, and eye-gazing. But as the magic of “falling in love” fades away, the couple goes back to business as usual: he chases skirts and she obsesses over him not paying attention to her. Both are getting frustrated and they toy with each other’s feelings. Eventually, the woman walks away taking the man’s heart with her. The man is now heart-broken, or more precise, with no heart in his empty chest. He’s sends electromagnetic waves of misery out to the world. Until one day, another woman comes along and saves him by splitting her own heart in two. They are now happy again, each having a piece of her heart.
[A collective Aww.. may or may not follow here]
The animation, screened at 101 festivals and with awards or nominations from 20 of them, has been described as a “beautiful film teaching us about relationships and love.” But what exactly does it teach us? Here’s my (unconventional) take:
- To love someone, you have to give up your own heart/soul/self as a proof.
- Falling in love is a passing stage, followed by the business as usual.
- Men are just destined to look at other women; plus, they need no attention from their partners to feel good about themselves.
- Women only care about their appearance and rely on men for their worth.
- Someone has to save you from your broken heart, while you have no role in your healing.
If this is indeed the case, guess what would “The Gift 2” be about? Exactly! And why wouldn’t it? As Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” [Meanwhile, I transform into a tomato ninja deflecting rotten tomatoes thrown at me by the fans. Phew, dodged that stinky, fat one!]
I wish that the film with the subtitle “A Different Love Story” picked cues from ancient philosophers to modern philosophers and from fiction to positive psychology to portray a truly different way of loving and connecting:
- How to court each other past the “head over heels” stage so we can reinvent the “we” again and again.
- How to learn having difficult conversations so we can learn to speak the same language.
- How to love yourself as the first step to loving another person.
- How to feel “enough” on your own terms.
- How to escape victim-rescuer co-dependency and get out of the comfort zone to create a passionate and long-lasting relationship.
I trust – and maybe even challenge – the director Julio Pot and his creative team to unleash their creativity, which is clearly abundant, to empower us to be different from the oh-so typical romance story.
Photo credit: Natalie Lucier.