When Love, Actually Misses You, You Wait for Death Among the Walking Dead

As the old year turns to the new, we become reflective.  We think of our blessings, trials, challenges, and our hopes and dreams for the year to come.  When we consider all this, it’s only natural we think of love.  What, after all, is more important than love?  Perhaps no modern cinematic tale more accurately (or more hauntingly) presents love’s all-important nature than 2003’s Love, Actually.  I’ve always loved (hmm…that seems redundant) this film because it celebrates love in so many shapes and forms.  It shows us romantic love, platonic love, familial love, sacrificial love, unrequited love, new love, old love, love won…and love lost.  Of it all, Mark’s story teaches us the most important lesson.  We should pay attention, careful to heed its warning.

So what exactly does Mark’s story teach us then?  Well, to give the words of my favorite superhero to Mark, “The story of my life is not for the faint of heart.  If somebody told you it was a happy tale, if somebody said I was just your average guy, not a care in the world…somebody lied.  But let me assure you, this, like any other story worth telling, is all about a girl.”  Which girl?  Why Juliet of course!  Close your eyes (I mean metaphorically, since you’re probably reading this with your eyes) and let me paint you a picture with my imagination brush.  Imagine the following…

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Peter and Juliet…and not you. / Photo Credit – Love, Actually

You’re in love with the girl of your dreams; your soul mate perhaps; someone with grace, intelligence, wit, beauty, and charm; someone who could easily be described as the English Natalie Portman which is nothing to sneeze at because the only thing that could make Natalie Portman more perfect is an English accent (also, this comparison is spot on because Keira Knightly literally played Sabé who was literally the double for Queen Padmé Amidala in The Phantom Menace so BOOM).  You love her.  You think about her.  You dream about her.  You see your future intertwined with hers.  She completes you.  BUT WAIT WHAT’S THIS??  OH YEAH THAT’S RIGHT SHE’S ACTUALLY DATING AND NOW MARRYING YOUR BEST FRIEND PETER AND YOU TOTALLY GET TO WATCH THIS ALL PLAY OUT RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU AND IT WILL FILL YOUR LIFE INVADING YOUR THOUGHTS AND INFECTING YOUR EVERY DAY LIKE A PLAGUE LITERALLY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.  Oh, and she’s totally marrying him AT CHRISTMAS TIME too so you get to think of this dagger to your heart and soul every year in an extra special way as it forever pollutes your personal experience of what was once the most wonderful time of the year.

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“If you see me walkin’ by, and the tears are in my eyes…look away, baby look away because I don’t want you to see me this way.” / Photo Credit – Love, Actually

Yay for love…

So you fidget.  You pine.  You are so in your own head you totally fuck up your recording of their wedding because all you end up doing is filming her for the entire day which is more than a little awkward should anyone especially your BEST FRIEND and/or his NEW WIFE ever ask to see it.  But then, after sighing, pining, crying, and lamenting, you decide to move on.  That sounds like a plan, right?  So how do you move on exactly?  By doing SOMETHING SUPER ROMANTIC FOR HER.

“Enough.  Enough now.”  REALLY?!?  How is that enough??  How do the three of you EVER have something remotely resembling a normal life?  Sure, Peter doesn’t know any of this happened.  But you both do.  Do you sit with unrequited love eating away at you, tearing you apart slowly each and every day until they die together happily-ever-after while you die bitter and alone?  Do you settle down with a rebound lover, a second-place finisher who doesn’t even know she took second and forever struggle as your relationship doesn’t live up to your imagined ideal?  Or does their marriage start to crumble, a little more each year, as Juliet takes everything Peter does that bothers her and compares it to an idealized version of you?  Do they break-up and you end up with the aforementioned girl of your dreams?  Great!  Now either you realize what you thought you’d have isn’t really what you have OR you legitimately find a blissful vision of paradise together.  That’s fun, right?  Now your former best friend gets to watch you live the life he thought was his as his becomes a pale shade of himself, forever wrapped in shattered happiness and rejected love.  Because, let’s be honest, unless you’re George Harrison and Eric Clapton there is NO WAY you break-up a marriage and remain friends.  It just doesn’t work.

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“Hey!  We’ve slept with the same woman!  That’s the bond that can’t be broken…unlike our friendship which is now and forever laying in tatters and scattered to the winds.  Ahhh, good times.” / Photo Credit – Love, Actually

Okay though, but let’s imagine this now.  Are your eyes still closed (metaphorically speaking)?  Are you still imagining?  Let’s walk this road.

Let’s say you’re really trying to make it “enough now.”  You really want Peter and Juliet to have a happy and loving life together.  You really want to try and move on.  So you decide to leave.  You’ll always carry the hole in your heart she was meant to fill, right?  Right.  How could you ever fully get over this girl?  She’s everything.

She’s the type of girl who makes your heart sing.

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Photo Credit – Love, Actually

But she’s also the type of girl you could easily imagine becoming a Pirate Queen.

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Photo Credit – Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Or a kick ass bounty hunter.

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Photo Credit – Domino

But she also seems like royalty.

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Photo Credit – The Duchess

And she rings with the truth of great literature.

Film Title: Atonement

Photo Credit – Atonement

And she’s certainly the person you’d like to spend your last day with if the the end of the world was nigh.

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Photo Credit – Seeking A Friend for the End of the World

So you’ll never really get over her.  But why live with SEEING THEM TOGETHER each and every day for the rest of your life?  That would be masochistic on a deeply disturbing level.  So you move.  You leave town.  Hell, you leave the country.  You’re going to find a new life!  Even if your love was rejected, you’re still going to try and build a happy life for yourself.  Good for you!  And what does this new life you’ve built look like?

Hell on Earth.  Literally, your new life is HELL ON EARTH.  Aren’t you glad she didn’t love you back?  Welcome to second place.  This is what it looks like.  How does that one kiss she gave you feel now?

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“No, I’m totally cool with just being friends.  It’s great.  I’m so happy you’re happy.  This is all I want.  Really, it’s cool.” / Photo Credit – The Walking Dead

You’ve descended into a haunted half-life.  Everywhere you look you see the terrifying visage of soulless, flesh-eating monsters.  Where you once saw living, beating hearts now you find only the walking dead.  You kill these monsters lest you become one yourself…but in the process of killing them you must face the question of whether or not you’re the real monster anyway.  Every moment of every day begins to feel like a never-ending fight for survival inside a brutal, nightmarish, dystopia.  And to what end?!?  Why are you even fighting to live through the day?!?  So you can do more of this tomorrow forever and ever until you die the violent death you can never escape, only stall.  But Peter and Juliet are really happy together!  Yay…

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Photo Credit – The Walking Dead

But it’s not all bad, right?  As you fight each and every day to protect this brutal imitation of life you’ve carved out for yourself you still have your new friends and surrogate family around you.  It can’t be all bad when you have support from the ones you love, right?  WRONG.  In this loveless hellhole you now inhabit you’ll get to watch each and every person you know and love die horrifically in front of you while you’re powerless to save them…except for your one, weird redneck hillbilly friend who for some unknown reason becomes strangely hotter (and more emo) with each passing year.

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“Seriously man, do you remember what you looked like when we still had civilization?!?  What the heck happened??  How do you do this?!” / Photo Credit – The Walking Dead

Stephen Stills once sagely sang, “If you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with.”  That’s all well and good until you look around and realize, once Juliet has rejected your soul offered to her inside messages calligraphied across poster board and wrapped in Christmas carols, the one(s) you’re with end up looking a little rough around the edges.  They also look kind of blood-thirsty, relentless, and murderous too.

So, as this new year dawns and we reflect on our blessings, trials, challenges, hopes, and dreams – especially of love – may you find all you seek.  Because if you’re chasing love and it leaves you walking down the road alone carrying nothing but your boom box and hopes of moving on…YIKES.  In that case you better watch out because your next act is going to be BRUTAL.  But if there’s any solace to be found, it’s this.  Remember, love actually is all around…until it isn’t.  Then there’s zombies and blood and horror…so, so much horror.  Happy New Year!

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“Happy New Year to you and Peter, Juliet.  No seriously, I AM SO COOL RIGHT NOW.  I’m fine.  I’m totally fine.  I’m over you.  For real.  Like you don’t even realize how cool I am right now.  Life in the U.S. is awesome.  It’s SO AWESOME.” / Photo Credit – The Walking Dead

 

10 thoughts on “When Love, Actually Misses You, You Wait for Death Among the Walking Dead

  1. This…didn’t go where I thought it would. Now I actually feel sorry for Mark, even though every time he comes onscreen with his signs, all my friends and I start screaming at the TV to let him know how awful we think he’s being by making Juliet feel guilty about something she had no control over when he should, in fact, just let her live happily ever after with her husband. What’s she supposed to do with this information he gives her? Oh, wait, he doesn’t care. It’s all about him. Ugh. But I guess if he has to fight zombies now I can feel more sympathy for him.

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    1. Hahaha, no, I’m with you. It’s SUCH a jerk move! In theory, it looks romantic with the whole carol-singers-not-asking-you-to-leave-but-I’l-love-you-forever thing but what’s his end goal? He just drops this on her and walks away?? Now poor Juliet has to live with this too when he never said anything to her before! That’s not cool. So the whole thing’s a mess and that’s part of why I enjoy Andrew Lincoln ending up on ‘The Walking Dead.’ It’s like this fantastic unintentional narrative progression where losing the love of his life made his life a living hell but we also have to wonder if he was ever really a good guy to begin with. (Granted, I haven’t watched ‘The Walking Dead’ in years but by the end of Season Six I started to wonder when Rick stopped being the hero and became a villain.)

      Incidentally, I’ll never forget how funny it was the first time I realized Rick Grimes was the poster board guy from ‘Love, Actually.’ It blew my mind.

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      1. The intriguing thing about his arc is that, as you point out, he’s created his own problem. Even though he shows up at Juliet’s door like it’s somehow her fault he’s pining away and so in love he has to move away, he didn’t need to get to that point. He could have told her earlier on how he felt and they could have sorted through it. Or, if he couldn’t because his friend was dating her, he could have tried to move on and date other women or something. But he just sits on it. And you do have to wonder what his goal was in showing up at Juliet’s. Was he hoping she’d run out into the snow and beg him to stay? Literally nothing good can come of his showing up there. I’ve never see The Walking Dead (zombies, ugh, so gruesome!), but at least we can get some entertainment out of it, at poor Mark’s expense! XD

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      2. Yes! And, as far as I’m concerned, that’s the best use for zombies. I tried watching ‘The Walking Dead’ and despite being severely grossed out (like, I dry-heaved at some scenes) I found the drama compelling…up to a point. But I couldn’t handle the violence and stress anymore. My Sunday nights are INFINITELY AND INDESCRIBABLY BETTER since I switched from ‘The Walking Dead’ to ‘Doctor Who’ :). Juliet’s life is probably better without Mark too. While he fights zombies she gets to be the Sugar Plum Fairy! She totally wins!

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  2. Ohhhhhh, man, I almost died at this: “Close your eyes (I mean metaphorically, since you’re probably reading this with your eyes)…”

    I have to say, when I was teaching at an all-women’s college a few years ago, I noticed they had posters everywhere about stalking, giving two examples of films that suggest stalling is romantic: 1) Twilight and 2) that scene with the words on the poster board from Love, Actually.

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    1. Andrew Lincoln said that too! I found this great interview where he was recounting telling the director he was concerned his character was a stalker and as a result no one could sympathize with him. The director said something to the effect of, “No, it’ll be fine. You;ll play him cute and people will love him” and Andrew Lincoln was all, “Ummm…. are you sure? This is pretty messed up.” It made me appreciate Mark’s weirdness/creepiness as a character all the more knowing Andrew Lincoln was aware of and concerned by it from the beginning.

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      1. The interview I read didn’t include a discussion of this but I wonder if Andrew Lincoln thought it would be interpreted differently. I know Joseph Gordon Levitt has talked a lot about how frustrated he is by his character Tom in ‘(500) Days of Summer’ being portrayed as a romantic hero. He says, for most of the film, Tom projects an unhealthy, co-dependent fantasy on Summer despite what she clearly tells him about her thoughts on life, love, and relationships. Despite culture seeing him as a “towering romantic hero” for pining for Summer, Levitt’s been clear his character’s move to put himself back together without the crutch of a fantasy is the important part. Maybe, if Lincoln clearly saw the stalker-esque implications, he thought people would respond to it that way. Again, I’m only speculating. I know that’s true of Joseph Gordon Levitt but I can’t say if it was for Andrew Lincoln too.

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      2. I guess my follow-up question for the actors is why not pass on these roles. Americans are recognizing the toxicity better. Think about that movie with Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. He basically kills her so he can “have” her. The film was criticized, and I believe it flopped as a result.

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      3. I don’t know. I think that’s probably a complex question or rather, something they’d each have to answer for themselves. For Joseph Gordon Levitt and ‘(500) Days of Summer,’ I think the public made a romantic hero out of Tom when the film didn’t portray him that way. I teach the film sometimes in my ‘Theology of Love & Evil’ class and it’s interesting to see how my students take his character. As to the others, I don’t know. It is a good question. Sadly, I think a lot of time the allure of fame or the desire for money outweighs the healthy aspects of the work.

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