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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Pitt baseball players stand in the dugout during a game against Virginia Tech on March 24 at the Petersen Sports Complex.
Pitt baseball shows promise in weekend series in Texas
By Dylan Grace, Staff Writer • 12:32 am

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Pitt baseball players stand in the dugout during a game against Virginia Tech on March 24 at the Petersen Sports Complex.
Pitt baseball shows promise in weekend series in Texas
By Dylan Grace, Staff Writer • 12:32 am

Meaning at the Movies | Richard Linklater’s “Before Sunrise” and its statements on love, connection and independence

Meaning at the Movies is a biweekly blog that analyzes the depth and beauty behind different films.
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Carrington Bryan | Staff Illustrator

I have always loved stories about connection. The intricate and complicated ways in which people relate to each other and try to love one another — all my favorite movies are always about this. And because of this, for years people have told me I needed to watch “Before Sunrise,” and I finally did. 

This blog is based just on the first movie, not the entire trilogy. That being said, this movie stopped my heart in its tracks. It was all I ever expected and so much more. 

The basic premise of “Before Sunrise” is that two 20-somethings — Jesse and Celine — spend a magical night together in Vienna before Jesse returns to America and Celine to Paris. The film spans from the moment the two first meet on the train up until the next morning when they disembark to go their separate ways. The pair spends less than 24 hours together, but there is this deep sense of knowing, acceptance, understanding and wanting that passes between the two, all of which make the film so captivating.

Watching this movie, you know no more about the characters than they know about each other at any given time. You are falling in love with both of them as they are falling in love with each other. Jesse is this kind of cynical adventurer, who has recently had his heart broken, and Celine — while more hopefully idealistic — is also very guarded, independent and strong. 

Not many concrete details are revealed about these characters. Yet, the intimate way in which the film is shot and the flow of conversation between the two allows for an understanding of them that is based more on their beliefs and their perceptions of the world than the actual cold hard facts of their lives. This layered kind of understanding is one of my favorite aspects of the film. The facts of a person’s life matter — like where they live and what they do — but so do their ideas, their dreams and their beliefs about the world. Knowledge of these deeper, more complicated things is much more intimate, more loving and more understanding. 

Jesse remarks early in the film that a couple begins to hate each other when they know everything about each other — what story they’ll tell in a specific situation, their mannerisms, everything

Yet, at the end of the film, Celine brings this up again saying, “I think I can really fall in love when I know everything about someone — the way he’s going to part his hair, which shirt he’s going to wear that day, knowing the exact story he’d tell in a given situation. I’m sure that’s when I know I’m really in love.” 

The film is in many ways backing Celine’s argument — as the viewer, we have come to better know and understand these characters and we want to know more, to love them more. The film appeals to love as a kind of knowing and also being willing to know more. 

“Before Sunrise” is driven by conversation and chemistry. The film is so incredible because Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as Jesse and Celine are so magnetic. The pair are so drawn to each other, so desperate to know more, to experience more of each other. In the record store scene, there’s this sustained shot of the two standing side by side and glancing at each other. They know they have limited time with each other, but they drink every moment of it in, completely infatuated with the other. 

The conversation between the two is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. They talk about everything, from their families to their philosophies on love and religion. There are almost no holds barred, a willingness to just give in to the other at least for this short time. Yet the pair don’t always agree — they bicker and argue and bounce ideas off of each other, as each is fiercely independent, clearly their own complicated person while also sharing this experience with the other. What I love especially about this is that Celine makes it very clear that she believes in women and their ability to make their own way in the world, to support themselves without men, but she also longs for love. 

In my favorite line of the film, Celine says, “I always feel this pressure of being a strong and independent icon of womanhood and without making it look like my whole life is revolving around some guy. But loving someone, and being loved, means so much to me.” To hear her say this, in this film about knowing and trusting someone with part of yourself, was so important to me. Celine makes it clear that she will not compromise herself, but that doesn’t mean giving up on love either — it just means finding the right person. The film ends with the blissful hope that maybe — just maybe — if they were to meet again, Jesse would be that one