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Friday, July 12, 2013

A Message in a Bottle

Written by Kyle Slagley

Every so often, you come across a story in the news that sounds just like a Lifetime movie or a novel by Nicholas Sparks, and this week I read just such a story. The story began in 2002 when an eight-year-old girl named Sidonie threw a glass bottle into the water off Long Island with a note inside it that said, “Be excellent to yourself, dude!” along with the family phone number.

Fast forward to December 2012; the bottle was found by a cleanup crew pulling debris from Hurricane Sandy out of the Atlantic near Patchogue, New York. A crewmember excitedly called the phone number, only to discover that Sidonie had died in 2010. In the end, the cleanup crew returned the note and bottle to Sidonie’s grieving mother, Mimi, who managed to find some closure from the incident.

The message is, of course, (almost) a quote from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and is quite the mantra for a young girl of eight. It also got me thinking about movies in which letters are crucial to the plot. The first of which would be Message in a Bottle, in which Robin Wright finds a letter tossed into the sea and tracks down the author, a widower shipbuilder played by Kevin Costner.

The next film that came to mind was You’ve Got Mail, in which rival bookstore owners Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan unknowingly fall in love via email. This film is also a nostalgic throwback to the days when you logged on to AOL via the dial-up modem and hoped to hear the cheerful little voice announcing the arrival of email.

In The Lake House, the typical pen-pal love story gets a little bit of a shakeup in that Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock both occupy the same house, albeit at different points in time. Because they live about a year apart, they have to get creative if they want to meet in person.

The last title I’ll mention is Letters to Juliet, in which Amanda Seyfried plays an American tourist in Italy who goes on a hunt for the lovers mentioned in a letter written to the fictional Juliet Capulet from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Interestingly enough, though the film is fictional, the thousands of letters written to Juliet each year are entirely real, as are the ‘Secretaries of Juliet’ who answer each and every one.

Do you have a favorite movie about letter-writing that isn’t on this list? Let us know in the comments.

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