It’s Valentine’s Day, that time of year when we come to resent the idyllic visions of love and courtship fed to us by Hollywood lo these many years. Still, it’s important to maintain the illusion that there’s something other than a buzzing existential dread waiting for us in the black of yet another lonely night, so we turn to love stories. Some are better than others—Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy, for example, or David Cronenberg’s The Fly. And then there’s Lady and the Tramp, the 1955 Disney classic that’s infinitely more sweet than the dashing princes upon which it builds most of its romances.
As the above video essay from ScreenPrism shows, the movie stands out from other Disney romances by virtue of there actually being a effort to show its starry-eyed leads actually, ya know, getting to know each other. First, they’re friends, then they go on dates, and then they slurp up the spaghetti and create one of the most iconic images of cinematic romance in history. As the essay points out, they also make each other better—Lady becomes more self-reliant, while Tramp learns to open himself up to others. Consider what a stark contrast this is to Cinderella or The Little Mermaid, where the romance is little more than just a reward for the female protagonists after their trials and tribulations.
Watch the full essay above, and consider it a reprieve from the endless arguments as to whether or not Beauty and the Beast is about Stockholm Syndrome.