Is love possible at a distance: the meaning of the film Dear John (2010): plot and meaning of the film, summary, explanation of the ending, description, similar films.
Genre: drama, melodrama
Year of production: 2010
Director: Lasse Hallström
Actors: Amanda Seyfried, Channing Tatum, Henry Thomas, Richard Jenkins, Scott Porter
Slogan: “We will be together even at a distance”
Awards and nominations: included in the top ten films of 2010 at the CinEuphoria Awards; American Society of Composers ASCAP Award in the category “Highest Grossing Film”; nominations at the People's Choice Awards and Teen Choice Awards for Best Drama Film in 2010; nomination for an MTV award for best male and female roles in 2010.
The next film adaptation of the master of melodrama Nicholas Sparks, “Dear John,” at one time became long-awaited, but did not live up to the expectations of the writer’s fans. The film was criticized for its lackluster plot and unconvincing acting. Most of those who were not familiar with the content of the original source, on the contrary, liked the picture. Let's try to figure out what meaning of the film “Dear John” the authors of the film adaptation tried to put into it and how it differs from the meaning of the novel.
Plot of the film
In the prologue, the main character of the film, soldier John Tyree, having been seriously wounded, recalls how once as a child he went on an excursion to the mint. The guy compares himself to a coin in which two holes were made and it became defective.
Channing Tatum starred as John Tyree, and Amanda Seyfried played the role of Savannah. Still from the film.
In 2001, John is on vacation at the seaside and meets a pretty stranger there. The girl stands on the pier, accidentally drops her bag into the water, and the hero boldly dives after her. The stranger's name is Savannah. She is a student who came here on vacation. In addition to recreation, she is actively involved in charity work.
The young people begin to communicate and fall in love with each other. John meets Savannah's close friend Tim and his son Alan, who has autistic disorder. Savannah, in turn, wants to communicate with her lover’s father. After communicating through experience and knowledge, she comes to the conclusion that John's father also has autistic disorder. This explains many of the features of his behavior, which at one time became the cause of discord with his son. The girl comes up with the idea to share these findings with her lover. However, John, after hearing Savannah’s “diagnosis,” becomes furious and quarrels with her. The girl's friends Randy and Tim fall under the hot hand. This happens on the eve of John's departure for military service. Still, at the last moment, the young people make peace and promise to be faithful to each other, despite the separation, and to write letters. This is what happens.
John's service is coming to an end. But then the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 happens. John, like the rest of his squad, driven by a sense of duty, is forced to extend his contract. He has two more years to serve. John comes to Savannah for a short vacation and delivers sad news. The girl is very upset. And yet, the young people promise each other to hold out for the remaining time apart. They spend the night together, and John goes to work.
In subsequent years, John continues to participate in military missions. The exchange of letters with Savannah keeps him going. However, after a while the girl stops writing to him. After months of silence, John finally receives a letter from her. From it he learns that Savannah will not wait for him, contrary to her promise – she is marrying someone else. John is depressed. He assumes that Savannah's chosen one is Randy, of whom he was jealous of her. And it seems that it was not in vain that John saw a hidden meaning in the behavior of the girl’s friend. In despair, the hero burns all his letters to his beloved.
Richard Jenkins played the role of John's father. Still from the film.
John is injured. After treatment, his superiors invite him to return home. However, John decides to continue his military career. After several years of service, the guy is forced to return because his father is seriously ill. On one of the last days of his life, John reads a letter to him – the same one, an excerpt from which was heard in the prologue of the film. So the hero finally reconciles with his father, recognizing how unfair he was to him before.
John's father dies. The hero decides to visit Savannah. Having met her, he learns that the girl married not Randy, but Tim. The latter is seriously ill and almost dying. The only thing that can help him is expensive treatment, for which there is not enough money – he has to take desperate measures, including selling his house.
The hero meets Tim in the hospital. He admits that he has always loved Savannah, but the girl will never treat him the way she treats John – he is still very dear to her. John stays for dinner with Savannah. They communicate. Savannah regrets that everything happened this way, but she couldn’t do otherwise. John is leaving.
The hero sells his father’s rich collection of coins, leaving behind the very first mule (a defective but valuable specimen), from which it began. John anonymously donates the proceeds to Tim's treatment. The mule remains a kind of talisman for him during further military service.
John receives a letter from Savannah in which she talks about an anonymous donation. The money helped buy some time (two months) for Tim so that he could be with her and Alan and say goodbye. Savannah writes that she has no idea where John is now and lost the right to know about it several years ago.
At the end we see John riding his bike and stopping near the cafe where Savannah is sitting. Young people notice each other, smile and hug.
So, are John and Savannah reunited at the end of the film? No. The guy could not stay with his beloved. He understood her actions and forgave her, but it was impossible to return the former. When leaving, John made a donation to give Tim a chance to recover, and therefore to continue his happy marriage with Savannah. However, the money only provided two months of remission, after which Tim passed away.
And yet, the authors make the ending open, giving the audience the opportunity to interpret it. We are shown John and Savannah hugging after meeting by chance in the city. They are still dear to each other. So it is possible that their relationship will someday resume.
The meaning of the ending of the film “Dear John” differs from the meaning of the ending of the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks. Next, we will analyze the differences between these works.
The meaning of the film
The film “Dear John” reproduces the plot of the book quite closely to the text. But, unfortunately, even if they wanted to, the authors of the film adaptation could not cover the entire depth of the source material. The description of the relationship between John and Savannah is detailed, so that the reader gradually and increasingly becomes imbued with the feelings of the characters. We see their love for each other grow. We see how much they value each other, and most importantly, how they positively influence each other. A lot of time in the book is devoted to John's relationship with his father. It is emphasized that it was Savannah who greatly contributed to their rapprochement. Both characters grow as individuals, learning to love up close and at a distance. In the film adaptation, these lines are, in fact, only indicated.
Still from the film.
Let us pay attention to how the film “Dear John” explains the gap between the characters. Savannah, already during her marriage, tells John how difficult and lonely it was for her. We learn that she became close to Tim when he became ill with lymphoma. As if the illness was the reason for the marriage. Tim himself ironically tells John in the hospital: “That was my evil plan.” Someone might even think that the girl’s action was motivated by pity, that the answer lies in her.
In the book “Dear John” everything was somewhat different. First of all, even before the first separation from Savannah, John knew that Tim was not just the girl’s friend and neighbor. He had been in love with her since childhood and protected her all his life. Tim and Savannah were initially very close. And the turning point in their relationship was not illness, but the death of his parents in a car accident. After that, Tim and Savannah, one might say, switched roles. Now the girl has become a kind of guardian angel for her friend, supporting and helping him in everything – especially with Alan (by the way, in the book the boy is not Tim’s son, but Tim’s brother). The illness appeared a little later and became, rather, a test for their relationship, and not at all the root cause.
It turns out that in the film, Savannah’s act looks almost like a betrayal and is initially perceived as such by John. In the book, everything is more complicated. And if the film tells how circumstances influence love, then the novel explains what love is in general. It gives a direct answer: “Love is when you worry about the happiness of another much more than your own.” This is exactly the conclusion John came to after talking with Tim.
Moreover, he admitted that Tim was right in the current situation. And John should have done the right thing by donating money for his treatment. This donation played a very big role. Thanks to him, Tim did not receive a reprieve like in the film, but was cured. So the explanation for the ending in the book is different.
To summarize, we can say that the essence of the film is to show the sad truth of life about love at a distance. The point of the novel “Dear John” is that true love is responsibility and self-sacrifice.
Still from the film.
- “The Notebook” (USA, 2004): one of the best adaptations of the work of Nicholas Sparks with Ryan Gosling in the lead role;
- “Safe Haven” (USA, 2013): a girl escapes from her abusive husband and falls in love with a caring widower – another film adaptation of the novel by Nikolva Sparks, with an element of mysticism and thriller;
- “The Oath” (USA, 2012): when Leo’s wife gets into a car accident and loses her memory, he decides to win her heart again;
- “Sweet November” (USA, 2001): cult melodrama with Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron;
- “The Time Traveler's Wife” (USA, 2008): fantastic melodrama.