I first watched The Way We Were so long ago that I don’t even remember when that was. Many, many movies watched may at times become the cinematic version of the Big Gulp. Slurped down, enjoyed thoroughly, and on to the nachos. No disrespect is meant. It’s hard to disrespect something you love as much as a true movie lover loves them. It’s just that sheer volume causes fuzzy details and things misremembered.

So it was with my The Way We Were experiences. I know I watched it. I’m sure I loved it. I’m just not quite sure why.

I thought I remembered soaring, slightly tragic romance, sprinkled with humor, and a beautifully, brutally wistful ending where Barbra and Redford pass each other on a city street, she gazes longingly at his gorgeous retreating figure, and…cue…Meeemories…..

What the heck movie did I see?

Maybe in some screenwriting corner of my mind…misty, watercolor screenplays…. Um, yeah. I think my brain must have presented me with a sort of memory of the movie as I would imagine it. Either that or I’m mixing it up with something else. Whatever happened, The Way We Were was not the movie I thought I remembered.

I watched it again recently, in a state of…what the–? It’s a good movie. Streisand is brilliant and everything she touches shines with that brilliance. Redford is a legend, and rightly so. The story is very well done, displaying that couple’s joys and heartbreak with a painful real life feel. They’re both flawed. They can be equally difficult in different ways. His vulnerabilities as a writer ring true, as do her passionate beliefs. That they can’t be together forever is a throbbing thorn that aches throughout. As I said, good movie.

So why was I disappointed the second time around? Because I missed the movie I thought The Way We Were was. That made the second viewing one of the strangest, most bittersweet movie experiences I’ve ever had. It was like trying to recapture a lovely dream in the bright light of the waking world. But dreams are elusive, of course. And so are misremembered movies that haunt the corners of my mind.

The Way We Were–1973 Trailer