Roman Holiday | Third Space

Roman Holiday

Fri 27 Jan 2023
Reel Dialogue Classic - Celebrating 70 years

5 out of 5 stars

As the years continue, some films get left behind in the memories of those who loved them. They can get buried amongst the plethora of options on the big and small screen despite being beloved by many during their release. Yet, some manage to place a flag in time and remain as classics that continue to receive recognition and repeat viewings for decades. Roman Holiday is one of those rare gems that has remained relevant and still makes us all repeatedly fall in love with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. As this cinematic classic celebrates its 70th anniversary, one might wonder if it is still worth rediscovering after all these years.

For those who need a reminder or have an aversion to black-and-white films, the premise of this story of self-discovery and unexpected romance dates back to an influencer era before the term existed. It is hard to imagine that this was Audrey Hepburn’s first film. Still, it is impossible to think of anyone else in the role of Crown princess Ann as she embarks on a diplomatic tour of Europe. As she enters the beautiful city of Rome, the young royal finally buckles under the pressure of the tightly held-schedule. Despite being given sleep aids to help her sleep, Ann breaks free of the castle gates where she is briefly residing and walks the lively and invigorating streets of the Italian city.

After the medications take over, she is found on a park bench by Joe Bradley, played by Gregory Peck, an expatriate writer for the American News Service. Initially, this is more of a problem since he does not recognise the princess until the following morning. Once he realises what story has fallen into his lap, the reporter decides to help the young woman explore the city and discover what she has been missing within her secluded lifestyle. All the while photographing and documenting her adventure with the hope of profiting from the experience and gaining promotion within the news agency.

For those who are just discovering this magical story that reminds us of the beauty of great filmmaking and writing, Roman Holiday was one of the most celebrated films of the 1950s. Directed by one of the greatest directors of all time and multiple Academy Award winners, William Wyler (Ben-Hur), this should make anyone take notice. Yet, the pedigree of this movie does not stop there, as it was written by Dalton Trumbo, one of the era's most celebrated and infamous screenwriters. He would eventually get recognition for his skills after the dark period of McCarthyism ended. Other awards for the film went to Edith Head, who was not only one of the most prolific and awarded costume designers in Hollywood history but would become the inspiration for Edna Mode, in Pixar's The Incredibles. Still, with all of the Hollywood royalty involved with this project, the film was owned by and launched the career of one of cinema’s most recognisable faces, Audrey Hepburn. She earned the Academy Award for best actress that year and inspired countless women worldwide with her wardrobe and hairstyle.

The history behind this film has received volumes of books and articles over the decades. Yet, none of that makes any difference if modern audiences fail to connect with the characters. Admittedly, things have changed within our culture over the past 70 years, except this film shows that humanity still manages to play from the same playbook. Thankfully there were no mobile phones to ruin this storyline, and this unexpected tale of a tenuous relationship between influencers and the press was allowed without crowds getting out their devices. Yes, the age difference between Peck and Hepburn does seem problematic initially, but the screenplay keeps the innocence needed to make this believable and genuine until the concluding moments.

Not all films manage to age well as the years progress, and many fall off of the watchlists for many viewers. Roman Holiday is one of those rare exceptions as it continues to capture the hearts of audiences each year. Some could credit this to brilliant filmmaking and writing or even the beauty of the Italian city. In contrast, many might credit the timeless nature of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck's chemistry. This debate will continue into the future, but there is something else to embrace about this production. Every component mentioned above played into the longevity of its appeal and the perfect timing of the film coming out at the ideal time in world history to provide the hope many were looking for in a post-war era.

William Wyler and Dalton Trumbo’s creation still manages to stand on its own and draw the world's romantics into the magnificent world of the human heart. For all who have never seen this classic, the time is now for you to turn off your devices, hold those you love close, and enjoy this beautiful story of love and discovery.

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REEL DIALOGUE: What is the price of fame?

Roman Holiday was a film about the impact and cost of fame on the personal lives of those caught in the spotlight. There are many films and books written on the rise and fall of public figures from many fields. It allows audiences to see the human experiences of these individuals who spend various lengths of time in the public eye. The interest from the general populace can stem from placing these individuals on a pedestal throughout their careers, but then seeing the human side of life after fame.

To a lesser degree, we all experience this as we progress through life. Success can come from sport, academics, business, or other endeavours, but how do we deal with the lower points in life?

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:10

The issue comes down to where we place our worth and identity. Suppose you put your trust in the accolades of others and in achieving goals. In that case, this will lead to eventual disappointment and depression. As seen throughout the Bible and in the words of James, the solution is to place your trust in the Lord for your worth. If all you do is done for the Lord's honor, regardless of how mankind responds to it, God will encourage you. Even though the good and bad times will come, the Lord's support will be the constant that can sustain you.

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