This Valentine’s Day, we’re forgoing chocolate, roses, and other symbology of romantic love in favor of a celebration of all types of love and its epic force. Let’s honor love itself and its ability to inspire, transform, and sustain. Here are a few of our favorite Topic series and films that showcase the unstoppable power of love.
Piece of my Heart (Pala Sydämestä)
This heart-wrenching crime drama explores the lives of two Finnish child welfare workers, Rita and Laura, as they struggle to protect children from recurrent trauma. As the two women work together to locate a missing child, for whom Rita was responsible, they find the boundaries blurring between their work and private lives. Love is explored thematically on several levels. Who loves these children if not the social workers? And how does that impact people like Rita and Laura when something goes wrong, as it tragically does so often?
The Returned (Les Revenants)
What if your deceased loved ones came back, long after you’d mourned them, buried them, and moved on with your life? That’s the premise behind The Returned, which explores the limits of the human heart and its ability to endure the trauma of love lost, returned, and transformed into something not altogether right. The power of love to both uplift and devastate is evident in the story of reunited twins, Camille and Lena. While Lena has aged in the 4 years Camille has been gone, her twin has not. How has Camille’s death and reappearance impacted their once-unbreakable bond as two halves of the same whole?
Dark Woods (Das Geheimnis Des Totenwaldes)
The bond between siblings is a unique one, and a relationship not often explored in depth on screen. In this chilling murder mystery, Police Chief Thomas Bethge searches for his missing sister Barbara, frustrated at every turn by an uncooperative local police force. With the help of dogged rookie investigator Anne Bach and his unwavering love for his sister, Bethge soldiers on for a punishing period of 30 years. Inspired by a real criminal case that remained unsolved in Germany for decades, Dark Woods demonstrates the enduring nature of love.
Based on the de-classified files of the real-life Dyatlov Pass Incident, this supernatural thriller tells the story of a group of friends who set out on an icy ski trek in the Ural Mountains in January 1959. Although they were all experienced hikers, none of them survived the journey. Conspiracy theories abound on how the students met their violent death: was it an avalanche, a KGB operation, aliens, or perhaps the indigenous Mansi people they were warned about? Dead Mountain flashes between two stories that showcase platonic love: one is centered around KGB Officer Kostin, and how his heartbreak over the loss of his best friend during the war influences his determination in investigating the students’ gruesome deaths. The other portrays the abiding friendship and love between the hikers that makes their demise all the more tragic.
Pet owners know that sometimes the purest love isn’t between two people. In this moving documentary, we watch three hardened criminals who are tasked with taking yellow lab Eli from an unruly puppy to a disciplined guide dog in just 12 months. Along the way, we hear their stories of how they got where they are, how they struggle with the lack of humanity in our broken prison system, and the redemptive power of the unconditional love of one mischievous, hungry puppy.