“This is not a love story. This is a story about love.”– Slogan from the movie’s theatrical poster
I was honestly planning to do an analysis of 500 Days of Summer (2009) during my free time until I found out that this year today, July 17th, marked its 10th year anniversary!
Well, no time like the present 🙂
Tom Hansen, played by the charming Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception (2010) and 50/50 (2011)), is a hopeless romantic, but his luck to find love and a happy life is nowhere near him. Originally majoring in architecture, he lands a dead-end job writing for a greeting card company. But everything changes when fate decides to have him meet his manager’s new assistant Summer Finn, played by the lovely Zooey Deschanel (Elf (2003) and Trolls (2016)). He falls madly in love with her at first sight! As he attempts to make the moves on her, there’s only one problem: she doesn’t believe that love even exists! Watch this nonlinear narrative about Tom trying to sort his feelings about Summer and his understanding of love in this interesting spin on a romantic comedy 🙂
Now, before you read my blog any further, make sure to watch the movie! I will be discussing my analysis of the movie below and the last thing I want is to spoil your experience! I really do hope you enjoy it! Again, WATCH IT FIRST, then come back to read this blog later 🙂
The Beautiful Sadness of Blue
Just for you to get to know me better, I am a real sucker for romantic comedies. Some of my favorites are Sleepless in Seattle, Forrest Gump, and, of course, 500 Days of Summer. I’ve watched this film countless times and the person I heavily invest myself in is Tom. Why? Well, probably because I’m also a hopeless romantic like he is. And I guess we all may have been in his shoes before when it comes to romantic relationships gone wrong:
“Do you ever do this, you think back on all the times you’ve had with someone and you just replay it in your head over and over again and you look for those first signs of trouble?”– Tom
This whole movie puts us into Tom’s perspective in his involvement with Summer by literally flipping back and forth between the wonderful honeymoon phases to the withering moments of their relationship. And what stood out to me as we explored their relationship together is that Summer’s outfits and presence on screen always incorporates a certain color.
I might be missing some other shots of her wearing blue but, from these examples, you can probably catch my drift that blue is probably an important color in the film. In my opinion, I think the color blue has a dual meaning in this story. When we think about the season of summer, we think of endearing blue skies that follow us during joyous beach days and restful summer vacations. On the other hand, blue is commonly associated with sadness within all works of art. As this movie’s nonlinear narrative involves direct flip-flops between Tom’s happiest and saddest moments with his relationship with Summer, the color blue is present throughout these moments. In other words, Summer, who literally is the color blue, is his source of happiness and sadness.
The pinnacle point of blue being a representation of his happiness is shown in this adorable scene after he… “hit a homerun” with Summer the night before 😉 #punny
And, as you can obviously see, all the dancers dressed in blue join him in his happy dance to celebrate that the love he has for Summer has been “reciprocated.” She literally made his dreams of love come true by staying the night with him!
I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Tom’s outfits throughout the film are color tones that are dark or blend in the background. In my opinion, this represents the life he’s been living–settling for a dead end, boring job writing cards instead of chasing dreams and achieving something more worthwhile with his architectural degree. Even in the beginning, the narrator mentions that “Tom believes that he will never truly be happy until he meets ‘the one.’” That special person ends up being Summer, who comes into his life and changes his life’s perspective literally and mentally by wearing the contrasting, bold blues to his drab browns and blacks while helping him reignite his passion to pursue his architectural career.
Even so, after all he’s been through with her, Summer’s blue becomes Tom’s source of sadness in the most spectacularly heart-wrenching scene of the film:
As I’ve mentioned before, we see Summer in this stunning blue dress that leaves us mesmerized just as Tom was filling his head with a beautiful fantasy of them possibly being a couple again. But to see an engagement ring on her finger that doesn’t belong to him leaves him distraught. He storms out of the party, filled with fury, frustration, and confusion. And that moment where he stands in the street as the world turns from a reality filled with color to a monotone blueprint of the city illustrates how he metaphorically lost his hope of love with Summer, who provided him the beautiful and unique color of blue that offset his dull-colored life. He is left with nothing as the background erases the blueprint of the city, leaving him as a black silhouette in the grey background. His hope for love is lost.
To end this blog on a lighter note, the ending reverses Tom’s lost hope. He finds a new meaning of what love really is and a new love interest in a girl who is coincidentally named after another season, Autumn. And to continue my analysis of color, we see her wearing a red dress shirt underneath her blazer, a color that is reminiscent to the beautiful red leaves that would swirl in the wind during the fall. And just as a new season brings in new weather to the environment, Autumn becomes the new potential for Tom’s discovery of love. And I feel that this finding of new love was slightly foreshadowed in the middle of the film depicted in the scene below:
You can see that the origami cranes are different colors, namely red and blue. According to Japanese cultural legend, if a person folds one thousand cranes, then the folder’s wish will be granted. Perhaps this mythical, fantasmal way of thinking can be related to Tom’s wishful thinking to find love based on fate and destiny. Each crane depicted in this scene, in my opinion, represents his hope in finding love in the two girls: Summer, who is represented by the blue crane (which I’ve analyzed earlier as being blue and even is a blue bird featured in his happy dance clip); and Autumn, who is represented by the red crane (her wearing red under her blazer). But notice how the blue crane is blurred in the background but the red crane is in sharp focus. This can explain how in the ending scene of the film, Tom is moving on with his life from Summer by starting his new architectural job and a new interest in Autumn. Because, to be frank, the color red, Autumn, is a much more promising color to hint at love than blue, Summer, could have never provided for Tom. We hope, as the story ends with an open interpretation of Tom’s fate, his new beginnings with Autumn will grant him the love he’s been waiting for all along. 🙂 ♥
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