Final Edition: The Notebook, the Unspoken Story

The romance film industry is one that I have never understood. Their target demographic – women of all ages – spend most of their time, while watching said romance film, sobbing or angrily cursing at the main character that is screwing his or her whole life up. Yet, it somehow still manages to be very successful. For example, when The Notebook came out in 2006 it raked in over 100,000,000 dollars worldwide! And if someone is really itching to see a tear jerker as a stereotypical woman who gladly participates in the love hate relationship of a good romance movie I would highly recommend this film.

For those who have not seen The Notebook the story takes place in a retirement home. There a woman who is suffering from dementia can’t remember much of anything about who she is or what her life was like, but even more tragic she cannot remember her husband. Her name is Allie, and every day her husband, Noah, comes to retell their love story to her. Most days it doesn’t change anything, but sometimes after hearing her own love story her mind is able to come back for a few minutes. Never the less Noah tries every day and starts with when they met. Their story takes place in the 1940s. Noah and Allie met at a carnival one summer night and for Noah it was love at first sight, but not so much for her. She was a rich city girl with a good upbringing and he was a poor country boy with nothing, but after badgering her enough she gave in, and they fall in love. But just like in any good romance film they are forced apart because she must go off to college after the summer. At the end of the summer neither of them are sure if they will ever see each other again, and because of her parents distaste for Noah they hide the letters he sends her once they get back to New York. Eventually he stopped writing and Allie found a new love. His name was Lon and he was exactly what her parents want for her. He was rich and could give her the life that Noah could not. But after seeing a picture of Noah in the newspaper Allie decided to visit. Once they saw each other they both knew that there was no going back. Allie broke it off with Lon and married Noah. Though Allie could not remember that anymore Noah never stopped loving her since the day they saw each other at the carnival.

But if you haven’t seen this movie, don’t let my quick synopsis be all the exposure you get to this movie. It is truly one of the best films I have seen, and after watching it with some things such as visual rhetoric and visual literacy in mind I have an entirely new respect for it. The director, Nick Cassavetes, did an excellent job of using much more than just the script and actors to tell a story. I never knew why this movie was so good, but after learning about how camera angles and character attire can become a major part of the story, I have an answer. There are so many things that could be picked apart about this movie, but a major thing that stuck out to me was how through the use of clothing and color scheme the director and Karyn Wagner, the costume designer for The Notebook, showed how much Allie changed in her relationships. This clip is towards the end of the film, but it is the first time Allie said in words how different she has become.

But I think that any viewer would know that Allie is different before that is ever actually said. When she and Noah began dating she wore warm colors like reds, yellows, and soft purples. There was a sense of freedom in the clothing. They weren’t too tight, they were light and flowing. At this point in the movie Allie was able to be her self in spite of what her parents wanted.



Most of the time that Allie spent with Noah that first summer they both were so happy. The way Wagner dressed Allie in “happy” or warm colors also helped make it seem that way.

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Most of the time that Allie and Noah spent together was spent outside, away from her parents. Her casual clothing reflected how comfortable they were with each other. 

After waiting for the letters that she never received she changed. Allie moved on as mentioned before, but this relationship was different. When Allie was with Lon she wore cold colors and sharp lines. She had become an adult and through the use of different colors and cuts Wagner helped portray this. ImageImage

I, of course, being on Noah’s side took this to resemble the restrictions she felt when she was with Lon. The only time you see Allie wearing red around Lon is when she told that she was going to get away to the town where Noah was. 





Another thing that was different about when she was with Lon was the things they did. This scene is one of the few times they are portrayed doing something outside. Other than this shot the couple spend most of their time inside expensive clubs, or fancy restaurants. Allie’s sophisticated clothes mirrored the sophisticated things they did. Allie had left her country girl behind when she met Lon. 

The dress that Allie wore upon arriving at Noah’s house was mix of her old self and the person that she had become. It wasn’t red, but it wasn’t a cold blue either and the cut of the dress is looser fitting. This is when they are reunited, and in my eyes the director and costume designer used this dress to show how Allie combined her two worlds and found that Noah was the perfect fit. 


Cassavetes also used the setting to the story’s advantage. Going for a boat ride is something that her and Lon would have done together. But she was happy to be doing this, deep down this is who she was the whole time. Cassavetes only had them spend a short time together, which made this scene even more impactful. After the long time Allie spent with Lon, Noah was able to “bring her back”. The dress choice for this scene helps to reinforce that. 






After the few days that Allie Noah spent together everything about her appearance screams her old self. Everything about this shot, the lighting, her hair, and the way her dress fits is very reminiscent of the Allie form the summer they met. 

One last thing I found interesting was the fact that in the opening scene when we first are introduced to a much older Noah and Allie, Allie is wearing red and yellow.



I like that choice for this scene because of what the different color schemes represented the whole movie. After watching this movie with these things in mind the outfit the older version of Allie wore clearly portrayed the path she chose. 

This film is an wonderful love story, and it has the good bone structure of the unspoken aspect of film supporting the main plot. Through the use of color schemes Nick Cassavetes, and Karyn Wagner do an excellent job of reinforcing the beautiful story line. 

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