Do you believe in a soulmate? A person that you’re just destined to be with no matter how long you’ve known each other or how far apart you can be from each other? Well, that’s how it is for the characters of Peter and Mary in this romantic, surrealist film. Peter Ibbetson was a little boy whose first love got separated from him after his mother died- only to return to him many years later as an adult.
I’ve always been fascinated by love stories of a couple who’ve known each other since they were young and grew up together such as It’s a Wonderful Life or The Notebook. Sure, sometimes the person you meet when you’re young can just be a first time thing and doesn’t guarantee you’ll end up with them. Other times, life can do funny things like bring back people in your life you haven’t seen in decades. That’s what happens to Peter when he’s forced to be separated from his young love in tears when his mother passes and he’s sent to live with his uncle in London. When they reunite again as they are older, that flame they had for each other so long ago burns again. I love the chemistry between the two as so much time has passed but they still hold on to their memories of being friendly neighbors, bickering and building wagons together. I will admit that I wish the romantic scenes could have lasted a lot longer before the dramatic turn came about.
What makes this film different from other star-crossed lover melodramas is the clever use of surrealism. If Peter and Mary cannot be together physically, then they’ll have to be together in their dreams. Do you yourself ever have moments like that where you have dreams of someone you can’t be with but by the time you wake up, your disappointed to find it wasn’t real? Well, join the club. It’ll help you relate to this film a lot. We are able to see a fairy-tale quality about these sequences as they are told picture perfect with a soft contrast. It’s so tragic to not be with the one you love that you have to resort to a fantasy world as your meeting place. I recommend this film to those who love beautiful stories of forbidden love.
Watch Henry Hathaway’s tragic love story Peter Ibbetson and let me know your thoughts on it: