Wordless Wednesday: the unrequited love of ‘The Age of Innocence’

WordlessWednesdayIn honor of the double birthday of Michelle Pfeiffer (57) and Daniel Day-Lewis (58), I thought I’d highlight their work (and scorching chemistry) in Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence. It remains one of my all time favorite period dramas (and one of my faves of the 90s), and that unrequited love story never fails to move me to my core.

Words fail me to describe the beauty of this story… so I’m going to borrow the words of Roger Ebert: “It was the spirit of it — the spirit of the exquisite romantic pain. The idea that the mere touching of a woman’s hand would suffice. The idea that seeing her across the room would keep him alive for another year.”

Newland Archer: You gave me my first glimpse of a real life. Then you asked me to go on with the false one. No one can endure that.

Ellen Olenska: I’m enduring it.


Ellen: I think we should look at reality, not dreams.

Newland: I just want us to be together!

Ellen: I can’t be your wife, Newland! Is it your idea that I should live with you as your mistress?

Newland: I want… Somehow, I want to get away with you… and… and find a world where words like that don’t exist!

ageofinnocence_still2This may not be a violent film from Scorsese in physical term, but it’s certainly a vicious one in terms of matters of the heart. Certainly one of the most painfully-exquisite portrayals of unrequited love.

What’s your thoughts on The Age of Innocence?

20 thoughts on “Wordless Wednesday: the unrequited love of ‘The Age of Innocence’

  1. Paul S

    The Age of Innocence is breathtaking!!! The Opera scene, that carriage scene, the last scene…
    such a beautiful film.
    I catch my breath for a moment when Michelle walks across the room in that red dress. there were other stunning moments, for sure, but that crossing was stellar. Of course, the vision of her standing on the pier in the sunset is how we all wish to be found.
    Great piece Ruth. Thank you. I’ve always thought it was fitting that DDL and La Pfeiffer share a birthday.

    1. Hi Paul! I’m a heterosexual woman but I too find Michelle to be so fetching in this entire film. She looks amazing in the period costume, but it’s her confidence & vulnerability that makes her so breathtaking. Both DDL and miss Pfeiffer never looked more beautiful on screen.

  2. I’m in such a minority here, but I just never cared for this movie. It’s beautifully shot and draped, but other than Michelle’s beautiful turn, I just didn’t care much. My wife loved it, though, and nearly everyone else I know does and tells me that I’m WAY OFF.

    Your post, regardless, is stunning though 😀

    1. Oh, and this…”This may not be a violent film from Scorsese in physical term, but it’s certainly a vicious one in terms of matters of the heart. Certainly one of the most painfully-exquisite portrayal of unrequited love”…is beautifully written.

    2. Hi Drew! Hey that’s ok, films speak so differently from person to person so you’re not ‘off’ just because you didn’t care for it. I think I find the topic of unrequited love to be so romantic, and really who hasn’t love someone we can’t have right?

      Oh and thank you for noticing my paragraph there… I just think emotional ‘violence’ if you will, is hard to capture on screen, but the two actors exemplify that pain so beautifully here.

  3. Definitely one of Martin Scorsese’s finest films and one of his more overlooked films as it was a change of pace but man, it is so beautiful with great performances all-around.

    1. It’s too bad this film’s overlooked, it’s definitely one of the best romantic period piece that nicely portrays the stifling tradition of the time. The romance feels heart-wrenching-ly real instead of saccharine or schmaltzy.

  4. As you know I’m not a fan of period dramas but I only watched this film because it’s directed by Scorsese. And I’m glad I did because I really liked it, definitely not a film many people expected to see Scorsese make, especially after the violent GOODFELLAS and CAPE FEAR. But it’s nice to have seen him direct something out of his comfort zone. You should check out Kundun too if you’ve never seen that one, another film that no one thought Scorsese would’ve made.

    1. That’s cool when a director goes out of his comfort zone. Funny that my two faves from Scorsese are the non violent ones. This one and HUGO. I should check out Kundun now.

    1. I think ppl just expect Scorsese to make violent gangster movies, but he certainly had talents to tackle other genres. Considering my love for period dramas, this rates amongst my favorites of all time.

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