love scene. Singular! These two are too busy enjoying the sound of their own voices to shut up and lock lips. Segal keeps them talking long enough so that MacGraw can utter one of the most execrable lines of dialogue ever written: "Love means never having to say you're sorry." And thus, thousands of baby boomers decided that apologies were for suckers and went on their merry way.
I get that much of what irked me about Love Story is probably what made it so popular forty-two years ago, and in 1970, all of the qualities that I find so repulsive were not really negatives. Love Story is very much a film of and for its time. In its favor is a kind of breezy naturalism, a surprisingly stylish turn that is lent credibility by Richard C. Kratina's on-location photography and Robert C. Jones' agile use of montage. While I know how snarky this sounds, I'm being sincere when I say the best scenes in Love Story are when O'Neal (who I rarely find convincing) and MacGraw (who is badly overdubbed in nearly every scene) aren't talking and instead are just being. When Hiller shows them playing around in the snow, accompanied only by Francis Lai's Oscar-winning (and still effective) musical score, we can actually see them falling in love in a way Segal's insistent scripting never otherwise allows for. It's material that, at last, relies on behavior rather than explanation. Alas, it's also far too littler to ever turn the dismal tide that drowns the rest of the movie.
For a film that is of its time, Paramount has done an excellent job making sure Love Story in high-definition still looks that way. The 1080p widescreen transfer preserves the muted quality of the film stock, maintaining its chilly, near-documentarian photography in a way that allows the colors to be warm and rich but without overdoing it. Resolution is nicely done, not too sharp but balanced so there is still an appropriate softness to a four-decades-old image. The surface grain nicely adds to the effect.
The remixed DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, I think, does a nice job of adapting the vintage material to modern ears. Back speaker effects are there for enhancement--the occasional ambient noise, a subtle movement of music or a more direct amping-up of the same--but without being overbearing. I think this is wise, maintaining the authentic nature of the original recording.
For those who prefer something even closer to how it might have sounded in 1970, there is also a mono Dolby Digital mix of the English version, as well as French and Portuguese dubs. Subtitles are in all three languages, along with a Spanish option and English Closed Captioning.
The extras on the Blu-Ray are the same as on the 2001 DVD release of Love Story, including a particularly excellent audio commentary with Arthur Hiller. He paints a vivid picture of all the circumstances that led to the making of this movie and his intent behind it, including touching on how the film was part of Robert Evans' revitalization of Paramount. (Now that you mention it, The Kid Stays in the Picture is largely responsible for making me want to see this.
Paramount also carries over the fifteen-minute "Love Story: A Classic Remembered" and the original theatrical trailer.
Skip It. Geez, look, I know this film is considered a classic in some circles, but Love Story is the very definition of "guess you had to be there." The 1970 tearjerker may have worked in 1970, but this tale of doomed romance comes off as strained and dispassionate in 2012. Ryan O'Neal and Ali MacGraw don't generate much heat, and Erich Segal's self-serious script embraces all the egocentrism the baby boomers carried with them as they exited the 1960s. Love Story has a nostalgic cache, to be sure, and despite a strong high-def presentation, it would have been best left as a memory rather than trying to revive it as a going concern.
Jamie S. Rich is a novelist and comic book writer. He is best known for his collaborations with Joelle Jones, including the hardboiled crime comic book You Have Killed Me, the challenging romance