It is impossible not to think of the 1990 Academy Award-winning movie “Ghost” while listening to “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers, one of the most romantic songs that reminds me of Valentine’s Day. I remember the first time I watched the iconic pottery wheel scene where the song plays with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, thinking that the relationship their characters shared was one of the most classic and memorable romances of that time.
The tearjerker drama is sure to make you want to grab a box of tissues and cry into your favorite stuffed animal, especially at the end. In the film, Sam Wheat, played by Swayze, is a banker living in New York City with his girlfriend Molly Jensen who is a potter, played by Moore. When Wheat becomes suspicious about high balances in random bank accounts, he decides he will look into the matter himself. To the viewer’s dismay, Sam is shot and killed by a mugger after discovering this, and while his girlfriend survives the incident, Sam’s ghost appears on screen unable to interact with the mortal world and his lover.
As Wheat watches life pass him by in the real world, and sees his significant other mourn his death, he finds out that his best friend and coworker Carl, played by Tony Goldwyn, was responsible for hiring the mugger to attack him. Wheat enlists the help of Oda Mae Brown, played by Whoopi Goldberg, a psychic who pretends to talk to the dead in order to make money. To both of their surprise, Oda Mae’s psychic ability is real when they both find out she can hear Wheat’s voice, and he asks Oda Mae to help warn Molly and protect her from imminent danger.
As melodramatic as the film is, in retrospect, there is no denying the chemistry between Swayze and Moore as we watch their love story continue even after Wheat’s death. The film is emotionally charged enough to touch the viewer’s heart and make them believe that true love can survive even after tragedy strikes.
It is heart-rending, yet beautiful, to watch Sam Wheat do everything in his apparition-like state to protect Molly from the danger only he can see from the other side. Along with the suspenseful scenes are bursts of comedic relief, especially coming from Goldberg’s character, which helps make the film seem less dreadful in a sense. Nonetheless, it is impossible not to feel melancholy and frustrated while watching a ghost yearn to communicate with his lover.
At its time, “Ghost” set the standard for the remainder of all 1990’s romantic dramas. This film may not apply to everyone’s idea of true and tragic romance, but in my opinion, it is one of the most heart wrenching and passionate displays of love, even after death.