What is it about forbidden love movies? Why are they so engrossing and why do they seem to strike a chord across all cultures and periods of history?
Perhaps it's because we can identify with that kind of yearning, even if we don't have those restrictions in our own lives. We've all wanted something we can't have, whether that's a partner, a promotion, or even a different kind of life. Desire like that leads to fantasy, and what is a movie but a fantasy at 24 frames per second? Here the greatest films about forbidden love, doomed affairs, failed flings, lovers on the run, and star-crossed romances.
The best forbidden love movies, whether they're old or recent, transport us to a world of romance and drama. No wonder so many of them are period pieces or take place in exotic locales. Remember, even the Italian setting of Romeo and Juliet would have been exotic to Shakespeare's audience.
So close the blinds, light a candle and pick out a bottle of your most decadent and luxurious wine. Vote for your favorite movies with forbidden love and don't forget to add anything we've missed!
Directed by: James CameronTitanic is a 1997 American epic romance and disaster film directed by James Cameron. A seventeen-year-old aristocrat (Kate Winslet) falls in love with a kind but poor artist (Leonardo DiCaprio)... more
Directed by: Gary Trousdale, Kirk WiseBeauty and the Beast is a 1991 American animated musical romantic fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The 30th film in the Walt Disney... more
Directed by: Baz LuhrmannRomeo + Juliet is a 1996 American romantic drama film adaptation of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. It was directed by Baz Luhrmann. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in the... more
Directed by: Tim BurtonEdward Scissorhands is a 1990 American romantic dark fantasy film directed by Tim Burton. An artificial man (Johnny Depp), who was incompletely constructed and has scissors for hands, leads a... more
Directed by: Nick CassavetesThe Notebook is a 2004 American romantic drama film directed by Nick Cassavetes and based on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks. The film stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as a young... more
Directed by: Baz LuhrmannMoulin Rouge! is a 2001 Australian–American pastiche-jukebox musical film directed, produced, and co-written by Baz Luhrmann. It tells the story of a young English poet/writer, Christian, who falls... more
Directed by: Jerome Robbins, Robert WiseWest Side Story is a 1961 American romantic musical drama film directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. The film is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn was... more
Directed by: Franco ZeffirelliRomeo and Juliet is a 1968 British-Italian romance film based on the tragic play of the same name by William Shakespeare. The film was directed and co-written by Franco Zeffirelli, and stars Leonard... more
Directed by: Ang LeeBrokeback Mountain is a 2005 American epic romantic drama film directed by Ang Lee. It is a film adaptation of the 1997 short story of the same name by Annie Proulx; the screenplay was written by... more
Directed by: Saul DibbThe Duchess is a 2008 British-American drama film directed by Saul Dibb. It is based on Amanda Foreman's biography of the 18th-century English aristocrat Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire.... more
Directed by: Saul DibbSuite Française is a 2015 romantic World War II drama film directed by Saul Dibb and co-written with Matt Charman. It is based on Irène Némirovsky's 2004 novel of the same name. The film stars... more
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Directed by: Len WisemanUnderworld is a 2003 action horror film directed by Len Wiseman about the secret history of Vampires and Lycans. It is the first installment in the Underworld series. The main plot revolves around... more
Directed by: Joe WrightAnna Karenina is a 2012 British epic romantic drama film directed by Joe Wright. Adapted by Tom Stoppard from Leo Tolstoy's 1877 novel of the same name, the film depicts the tragedy of Russian... more
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Directed by: Catherine HardwickeTwilight is a 2008 American vampire romance film based on Stephenie Meyer's popular novel of the same name. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, the film stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. It is... more
- The Thorn Birds is a television mini-series broadcast on ABC between 27 and 30 March 1983. It starred Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward, Barbara Stanwyck, Christopher Plummer, Jean Simmons, Richard... more
Directed by: Clint EastwoodThe Bridges of Madison County is a 1995 American romantic drama film based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Robert James Waller. It was produced by Amblin Entertainment and Malpaso... more
Directed by: David LeveauxThe Exception is a 2016 romantic war drama film directed by David Leveaux. It is about a German officer and a Dutch spy, each tasked to watch the former German Kaiser Wilhelm II, who fall in love. ... more
Directed by: Kevin ReynoldsTristan & Isolde is a 2006 epic romantic drama film based on the medieval romantic legend of Tristan and Isolde. It was produced by Ridley Scott and Tony Scott, directed by Kevin Reynolds and stars... more
Directed by: Mike NicholsThe Graduate is a 1967 American comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols. It is based on the 1963 novel The Graduate by Charles Webb, who wrote it shortly after graduating from Williams College.... more
Directed by: Jane CampionThe Piano is a 1993 romantic drama film about a mute female piano player and her daughter. Set during the mid-19th century in a rainy, muddy frontier backwater on the west coast of New Zealand, it... more
Directed by: Anthony MinghellaThe English Patient is a 1996 romantic drama directed by Anthony Minghella from his own script based on the novel of the same name by Michael Ondaatje and produced by Saul Zaentz. The film was... more
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Directed by: Andrzej BartkowiakThis film is a 2000 American martial arts action film directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak in his directorial debut, and also fight choreography by Corey Yuen, and starring Jet Li and Aaliyah. The film's... more
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Directed by: Len WisemanUnderworld: Evolution is an American action-vampire film directed by Len Wiseman. It is the second installment in the Underworld series, following Underworld. The events of the film begin during the... more
Directed by: Jerry ZuckerFirst Knight is a 1995 medieval film based on Arthurian legend, directed by Jerry Zucker. It stars Richard Gere as Lancelot, Julia Ormond as Guinevere, Sean Connery as King Arthur and Ben Cross as... more
Directed by: Todd HaynesCarol is a 2015 British-American romantic drama film directed by Todd Haynes, based on the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith. In 1950s New York, aspiring photographer Therese Belivet... more