The Ten Best Romantic Moments In Film History

Another lost-but-recovered post! – t.
[First appeared as a post in May 2009 on this site]

I joined a new romantic sub-genre email group last week, and got a  strange silence when I happened to mention that I thought one of the  most electrifying romantic moments in film history came in the second  Star Wars movie, The Empire Strike Back.   But that truly is one of the most supreme moments in romance history  when Princess Leia bares her soul and says “I love you,” and Han Solo  comes back with “I know.”

While the “I know,” was perfectly in  character, and got a laugh from most guys, it was Harrison Ford’s expression that speared me right in the gut and the heart, and made my  knees weak. (And still does!)

I’ve written at least two books based on that moment.

There are other perfect moments like that in movie history.   Sometimes they live inside a great movie.  Sometimes the rest of the  movie is a dud, but the moment itself makes up for it.

Here’s my first draft of the Ten Best Romantic Moments in Film History.


1.   Han Solo and Leia Organa – The Empire Strike Back

See above.

2.  Karen Blixen, Dennis Finch-Hatten – Out of Africa

The moment when he flies back to see her after their first safari,  when she’s not sure whether she’s ever going to see him again. This  moment is deliciously thick with tension. Even Karen Blixen herself is  holding her breath.

3.  Ethan Hunt, Nyah Nordoff-Hall, – Mission Impossible II

This is another unexpected electric moment for me. Especially as Tom  Cruise is definitely not one of my favorite actors. My apologies to all the Tom Cruise fans out there.

The moment itself comes towards the end  of the movie. They are trapped at the top of the building and Tom Cruise  is desperately trying to get Tandi Newton out of the building. He’s desperate, and she knows damn well he can’t get her out. So she sacrifices herself by injecting herself with the deadly plague in order to give him a fighting chance of getting himself out of the building. The look on his face when he knows what she’s done is just gorgeous.

4.  Richard P. Riddick, Carolyn Fry – Pitch Black

If you’ve raised your eyebrows because you consider this not to be a romance movie you’d be right. However, pause to consider for a moment the relationship between Riddick and Carolyn Fry.

From beginning to end  of the movie their relationship develops exactly like any romance. They go from complete lack of trust to forced intimacy (that includes everything except sex), they reveal their true characters including deep-seated weaknesses, and finally have to trust each other with their lives.

It helps of course that Vin Diesel is damn sexy.

The moment I’m thinking about is right at the very end, so I can’t give you a lot of detail in case you’re curious enough to try this movie for yourself.   But believe me it’s a doozy.  Riddick’s character changes completely after this moment. I mean completely.  It’s a total redemption of character.

5.  Sherlock Holmes, Gabrielle Valladon – The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

This is quite an old movie. It dates back to the 1960s.

In fact I had  to search for a bit to find it myself. But you can still can pick it up on DVD.

It’s an old Billy Wilder movie. This is one of those movies that has an electric romantic moment in it, while the rest of the movie is okay.

I am a card-carrying Sherlockian, so this movie is probably easier for me to watch than some other people may find. However it’s really worth watching at least once just to get the romantic moment.

That moment comes, again, toward the end of the movie and is a complete pay-off.  This romantic moment is one of the chief reasons I ended up writing my two Sherlock Holmes books, the Chronicles of the Lost Years, and The Case of the Reluctant Agent.

6.  Hawkeye, Cora – The Last of the Mohicans

There’s at least three or four moments in this movie. The number guarantees I play this movie at least once a year.

I have the extended version. My daughter and I watch with munchies and drinks on the sofa and sigh over the movie and Hawkeye.

Three moments spring to mind readily:  The Kiss,  Hawkeye rescuing Cora during the ambush, and lying under the stars.

7.  Zorro/Don Alejandro de la Vega, Elena de la Vega – Mask of Zorro, Legend of Zorro

There’s several moments in these movies, all of them romantic, and as it happens, all of them without the hero and heroine together.

It may be because the main character is playing a two-faced role and has to hide his feelings all the time.

But often when his true vulnerabilities are on show it’s when the heroine is nowhere in sight…except at the end of the last movie when all these differences are resolved.

Some moments that spring to mind: when the original Zorro reveals that Elena is his daughter; when Alejandro and Elena first split up in the second  movie; and when Zorro is truly unmasked in front of his son and his wife  — and this last one is the real gut-cruncher.

8.  Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth – Pride and Prejudice

I’m talking here of the movie that stars Kiera Knightley and the absolutely delicious Matthew Macfadyen.  Again, the moment comes right at the end of the movie, when Mr. Darcy finally declares his love for Elizabeth. In this particular version Matthew McFadyen does a brilliant job at it. If you haven’t seen this movie, go grab a copy of  the DVD and have a look.

9.  Bud, Lyndsay – The Abyss

I have a feeling I may have trouble keeping this list to just 10 entries.

This one is one of my all-time favorites, too. The film is from 1989 but I guarantee that this one is absolutely worth watching.

It’s actually science fiction but it doesn’t feel like when you’re watching it.  It doesn’t feel like romance either. But it is and it gets you in the gut every time. Bud and Lindsay literally give up their lives for each other by the end of the movie and this particular moment that I have in mind is one of them. Please give this movie a try, it is a guaranteed tearjerker, I promise.

10.  Vinnie, Mary – The Godfather, Part Three

I sort of feel like there’s not too many people left in the world that haven’t seen the movie. So I’m not sure that I would be laying down too many spoilers if I say what actually happens. But just in case I’ll be careful.

Anyway: Andy Garcia is Vinnie, the up-and-coming new Don of the Corleone family, who falls in love with Mary, Michael Corleone’s daughter.

Under the circumstances this is not a particularly safe arrangement, and they both know it.  Vinnie makes the sacrifice, and lets her go, in order to run the family and keep it safe.

The moment is when they’re in the theater just after he’s let her go, and they’re looking at each other. You know what is coming, the bloody violence that runs through the entire family’s history tells you what is coming, which makes the moment just that much more gut wrenching.


So that’s my list of 10, and it’s a draft list. There’s probably a  few more that I’d like to put on it, including — let me see:  The Jackal,  For Love Of The Game, Aliens. But I tried to keep it to 10.  Oh, and there’s Ladyhawke, too.

You’ve probably got your own favourite moments.  Tell me yours in the comments section.  What would you put the list?



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2 thoughts on “The Ten Best Romantic Moments In Film History”

  1. I’m so- so with your list, Hans would have been on my list, but not at one. Definitely the Abyss, Riddick and Aliens, and Ladyhawk. I would add Dracula Untold when Dracula completely, upon the death of his wife, goes to he dark side to avenge her. Also 1939s Wuthering Heights, the entire death scene. I’ve seen so many movies it’s hard to choose., so I’ll leave it here.

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