To begin with, the film is based on the novel of Nicholas Sparks, whose books deal with various life problems including illness, love, kindness, relationship difficulties, aging, and a real life as it is. Consequently, the film is not merely about love, though it is imbued with this feeling, but about other issues including aging and adult development.
The story, which is somewhat banal in terms of being similar to a melodrama, is rich in dialogs and details. The way the story is told reminds the movie “The Green Mile” (a nursing home, where an elderly man tells an elderly woman about the events of the past). Such touching story about a poor boy and a wealthy girl seems quite ordinary. But it seems to be ordinary only at first glance because there is something more than a conflict of social classes and money. Some issues are on the surface – betrayal of parents, fraud, rampant and inexplicable passion, loyalty, lifelong love etc. Other issues lie deeper.
Marcel Proust had studied the properties of a human memory and came to a startling discovery: whole personal life is kept in the labyrinth of the mind in the form of images. Smells, tastes, sounds, dropped words can trigger the flow of visions from the past. They can again make this past living, tangible and real, sometimes in the most unexpected moments. At an old age a person can live through certain moments of life by means of memories.
The film composition is built as if the purpose of the director is to confirm the guess of Proust. An elderly man reads a diary to his wife, who had lost her memory. She does not remember anything. Doctors of the nursing home are inexorable: the disease progresses, it is incurable. They say that this is a senile disorder and time cannot be turned back. However, the old man continues to live in this nursing home together with his beloved one to prove again and again that for their love nothing is impossible. He is sure that the memory can be resurrected by images. Time will return them back to each other.
In his works, Sparks often addresses the disease as a destructive force. “The Notebook” is not an exception. The film tells of Alzheimer’s disease and its impact on human life. This is a disease that affects memory and mind. What strength is required to look in the mirror and not to cry, realizing that the most important events in life are forgotten? In comparison with this problem, social inequality is just a walk in the blooming garden.
The film forces the viewer to think about the real price of memories, both happy and sad. If a person loses the memory of life, and therefore life itself, can the love of youth return it? When the disease is the fate, and the memory of the past, no matter how bright it is, has no power to resist it?
The film offers several important motives. The first motive emphasizes the relationship in society and shows the differences between individuals and their behavior. Each individual is selfish, but is this individual able to cross the bridge between his or her ego and other people? This is an important issue that concerns many characters. Social status is not important for love. It does not need the money and high position in society. But love can be influenced, and it is a subject to reason. When it comes to social status, it should not be forgotten that the conflict can be created by the third party, as a rule, parents uninterested to see their child next to a man from a lower class. It is unfair, but justified. No parent wants a child to be unhappy, but sometimes excessive protection can cause certain outcomes. These life circumstances challenge the feelings and at a certain point a person must make a choice.
Another motive is “nothing lasts forever.” The film discloses a certain idea: do not accept the life routine, act against time and circumstances. Time is smarter and stronger than people, but people are strong too. People are able to do wonders for themselves and other people around them. They can protect the good and eradicate the evil. They know how to act in certain situations, which may not be “right” but “true” (as the soul commands). The eyes of the woman and the eyes of the audience witness the time on the first date: a young boy from an ordinary family explains to a beautiful spoiled girl from the high society about the value of inner freedom. She falls in love with him, overcoming fear and breaking the rules imposed by society. In fact, the story is not only about love at a young age, but also about love in the end of a life path. After all, there are more feelings in the scene with the elderly man, reading the notebook, the diary of love, than in ordinary romantic relations of a boy and a girl. The reason for it may be that his love it is unrequited. His faith, devotion, and love at an old age – all these elements provoke touching feelings.
The third motive makes the audience be sincere. The “riot of colors” in the soul must be released. Not the dullness of everyday life, but the beauty and emotions of one’s soul, imbued with good will, can save the world and energize the aura around. This is a love story. The characters stay together and live happily. However, the film is very sad, and the tragedy of the story is in the eternal love they have during their entire life. In his youth he had lost her once, and when they were reunited again, he did not know that he would lose her again, at the old age, and would lose her forever while having an opportunity to reunite with her just for five minutes, no more. She lost her memory due to her old age, and all the time he was there seeing how their love disappeared, gradually becoming only his memory. Every day he felt how his life was fading and coming to an end. They never stopped loving each other, and he never left her, even when she could not recognize him. The most important idea here is that love at the old age can be stronger than love in youth.