Faye Dunaway, Robert Redford, and a great love scene

Faye Dunaway, Robert Redford, and a great love scene

From a movie which is a somewhat violent spy thriller, comes, for me, perhaps one of the best movie love scenes. It’s between Faye Dunaway and Robert Redford in the movie “Three Days of the Condor.” Robert Redford plays Turner, a CIA analyst. Turner finds his coworkers killed and kidnaps Kathy (Faye Dunaway) as part of his attempt to stay alive and figure out what is happening. The kidnap is not the romantic part. What’s so special is the interaction between Turner and Kathy back at her apartment. There, Turner pays attention to the photos which Kathy has taken. He talks with her about those photos and what they mean to her. He is interested in her as a whole person. One of the photos is an empty bench. A place where someone could be sitting but isn’t. What does it mean? During the love scene which follows, the the film intersperses images of Turner and Kathy with images of her photos, including the photo of the bench. Instead of purely physical imagery, the scene shows the emotional connection which is forming between the two. It’s quite powerful.

Turner and Kathy together.

Turner and Kathy together.

Kathy walking by the photo of the bench (it’s blurry in the upper right).

Kathy walking by the photo of the bench (it’s blurry in the upper right).

This is a bit of the dialog where they are discussing the photos. First Turner remarks on the “empty spaces” in the photos.

Turner: You’re funny. You take pictures of empty streets and trees with no leaves on them.
Kathy: It’s winter.
Turner: Not quite winter. They look like November. Not autumn, not winter. In-between. I like them.
Kathy: Thanks.

Later Kathy tells him more about what the pictures mean to her.

Kathy: Sometimes, I— I take a picture that… isn’t like me, but I took it, so it is like me. It has to be. I put those pictures away.
Turner: I’d like to see those pictures.
Kathy: We don’t know each other that that well.
Turner: Do you know anybody that well?
Kathy: I don’t think I want to know you very well. I don’t think you’re gonna live much longer.
Turner: Well, I may… surprise you. Anyway, you’re not telling the truth.
Kathy: What do you mean?
Turner: You’d rather be with somebody who’s not going to live much longer, at least somebody who would be on his way.
Kathy: I’m not–
Turner: You take pictures. Beautiful pictures, but of empty streets and trees with no leaves–November. Why haven’t you asked me to untie your hands?
Kathy: H-How much do you want…
Turner: I just…want to stop it. For a few hours. For the rest of the night. And then I’ll go.

They make love. In the morning, Kathy tells Turner how she feels about him.”When things quiet down, you’re really a very sweet man to be with.”
For my part, I was inspired by the scene to take pictures of a bench which is special to me… in the Arboretum in Seattle. I took these pictures not just in winter (as Kathy did) but all year round. To me they represent a combination of unity and change… the one and the many. One bench, one spot in the forest. Yet it keeps changing. However it is now, it will be different tomorrow.

Copyright © 2013. Alan Bush. All rights reserved.

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