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The Vow


Making promises

This is the story of two young Chicago artists. He is a musician who produces records. She used to study the law, but abandoned it in favor of modernistic sculpture. They get married in a modern art museum after a brief courtship; then they run from the guards. Disaster is inevitable: They make up their own vows. Well, if it’s just their word, who is going to enforce those vows? Human willfulness promptly proves to be no match for chance: The woman suffers a horrible accident that leaves her looks untouched but steals her memory.

The problem of the plot is, How can the husband persuade his wife to be his wife when once she has forgotten him? Doctors cannot help her regain her memory; she is medically healthy. The husband first thinks to show her their life together. This fails to work, for obvious reasons. He is not an idiot. He next thinks to court her again. Why not do the obvious from the beginning? Why not repeat himself?

Marriage is the problem. Insane vows aside, he has a right to her love now, which the laws guarantee. Spouses need not be jealous of each other, for the laws secure their rights. He has to admit his marriage is worthless in these circumstances. It cannot protect him. He needs to marry her again. Marriage is the problem again. It asserts that man & woman become one flesh together. But it cannot explain who should be marrying whom. He is afraid that the first marriage was an accident, as all love is in a sense accidental.

Family is the major obstacle to the remarriage. She had abandoned her family & moved into the city; her father wanted her to follow the law, but she discovered the courses bored her & she would rather draw instead. Now, having forgotten herself, her family wants her back, & they view her husband with unfriendly eyes. In her peculiar condition, she prefers the safety of family to the adventure of love. Only now does the man begin to learn to what extent their first marriage was based on wildly unconventional opinions. It seems that his major weakness is that he is not respectable.

Maybe this is the Nietzschean eternal return of the same: If you had a choice of what to live through for eternity, what would you choose? The story tries to teach that nothing is accidental, that a kind of willfulness makes one master of one’s life. One makes one’s choices with a view to what interests one most of all. To speak very briefly, if falling in love is forgetting oneself, this woman attempts to find herself by forgetting herself.

A movie for girls