A while back I went to see a romantic comedy with my 13-year-old daughter Eve and we saw a preview for Letters to Juliet. It looked like a good movie, but I couldn’t help but wonder: Who was that man on a horse who rode up to see Vanessa Redgrave after 50 years apart?
So I went online when I got home and looked it up: Franco Nero!? Wasn’t he the guy who played Lancelot with Vanessa Redgrave as Guinevere in the original Camelot movie of the late 1960s with Richard Harris?
Yes! And wait, it gets stranger and more wonderful still. After meeting on the set of Camelot, they had a son together, Carlo, and had an affair that fell apart after a while—but then, years later, they got back together, and in 1996 they got married. So romantic!
So I rented Camelot to watch it again, and remembered why it was one of my favorite movies. Sure, it’s cheesy and melodramatic (and as Eve said, everyone’s eyes are really, really blue). However, it’s the story of how to overcome our instinct for revenge with the higher and more civilized emotions of forgiveness, justice, and right action. And even though it didn’t end successfully, the power of telling the story plants seeds for future success (whether Camelot was real or not is still not proven). It’s a message that is even more relevant today, as we watch the Middle Eastern cultures destroy each other, and attempt to destroy us, through an endless cycle of tribal revenge.
What the Middle East needs is a round table!
And today, Britain can resolve its election confusion in a civilized manner, rather than by jousting or burning people at the stake. And people remember King Arthur, not his illegitimate son Mordred, who brought him down. We have come a long way.
We’ve come a long enough way that it’s OK to take a Saturday night and go see a simple, sweet, funny, and not-too-heavy romantic comedy that puts the New Yorker in the wrong building, puts Gail Garcia Bernal in a role he is perfect for (although next time make him the hero!), and reunites two lovers in film and real life.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, Franco Nero wrote a few lines for Letters to Juliet. One is the line in which Claire tells Lorenzo “Sorry I’m late,” for keeping him waiting for 50 years. “And I say,” explains Nero, ‘when we speak about love, it’s never too late.'”