'The Vow' and Other Romance Movies With Amnesia

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'The Vow' and Other Romance Movies With Amnesia

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Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams in Screen Gems' The Vow - 2012

"The Vow" is about a young woman with amnesia and her husband, who tries to get her to fall in love with him again. He remembers their life, but she sees him as a stranger. He has to win her over as if meeting her for the first time. It is a true story, previously portrayed in the Bollywood film "Salaam-e-Ishq."

Amnesia is a common plot device in movies, mostly psychological thrillers. The idea of losing memories and identity is frightening. Amnesia appears less in romantic movies, but they do exist. There are four types of amnesia. What romantic movies have used each one to advance the plot?

Retrograde Amnesia

Retrograde amnesia is the most common form used in movies. Simply put, it is when an injury or illness causes someone to lose his or her past. They can't remember anything before the incident. Many thriller movies use retrograde amnesia, along with several romantic movies as well.

"Regarding Henry," with Harrison Ford, is about a man with amnesia. The amnesia gives him a new personality. As he learns about his past, he realizes what a terrible person he once was. The movie was also a walking billboard for Ritz crackers.

The cartoon version of "Anatasia" is a favorite romantic movie with amnesia. Young Princess Anastasia falls from a train, injuring herself, and loses all memory of once being a part of Russia's royal family. She looks like the lost princess, although she thinks she's just an orphan. A couple of hustlers try to use her to make some money, none of them knowing about the girl's lineage.

Anterograde Amnesia

Anterograde amnesia is the opposite of retrograde amnesia. Someone with anterograde amnesia can't form new memories, so they forget anything they did recently. It's similar to when you walk in a room and can't remember why you went inside in the first place.

Filmmakers use this form rarely in movies, and hardly at all in romantic movies. It just doesn't seem possible that someone with anterograde amnesia could fall in love. They wouldn't remember enough. "50 First Dates" uses a disorder like anterograde amnesia, although the condition Lucy has doesn't exist. She can only retain new memories for 24 hours, then her mind is wiped clean. However, there is one character in the movie that does have anterograde amnesia: Ten Second Tom.

Although not a romantic movie, Dory from "Finding Nemo" is our favorite movie character with anterograde amnesia.

Psychogenic Amnesia

There is only difference between retrograde amnesia and psychogenic amnesia. Both create an inability to remember the past, but psychological trauma causes psychogenic amnesia. There is no physical damage to the brain. Something happens to the patient that makes the mind shut out traumatic memories. It is almost as if the event scares the memories out of their mind.

Filmmakers use this form of amnesia a lot for thrillers because it creates a scary situation. The romantic comedy "Overboard" uses psychogenic amnesia. Goldie Hawn's character falls off the yacht and the fear of the situation causes her amnesia. Of course, that is a bit of a stretch, but romance movies with amnesia are difficult to find.

Lacunar Amnesia

Lacunar amnesia is by far the most interesting form, causing someone to lose specific memories. The memory loss comes from injury or psychological trauma. The sufferer might remember everything else in life, except one memory or a few memories.

The most well-known movie with this form of amnesia is the romantic drama "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," where a company erases people's memories for a price. Another movie that uses the idea of lacunar amnesia is "While You Were Sleeping." When one character doesn't remember his fiancée, the doctor tells him it is amnesia. He remembers everything else, except her. The joke is that he never met her in the first place.

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