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The Best Movies About Forbidden Love

Updated July 22, 2020 4.2k votes 481 voters 27.2k views72 items

List RulesVote up your favorite films about couples kept apart by forces out of their control.

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!

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  • Titanic1
    227
    79

    Titanic

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet

    Released1997

    Directed byJames Cameron

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  • Romeo + Juliet2
    162
    59

    Romeo + Juliet

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Paul Rudd

    Released1996

    Directed byBaz Luhrmann

    Romeo + Juliet is a 1996 American romantic drama film adaptation of William Shakespeare's...  more
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  • Beauty and the Beast3
    154
    55

    Beauty and the Beast

    Angela Lansbury, Frank Welker

    Released1991

    Directed byGary Trousdale, Kirk Wise

    Beauty and the Beast is a 1991 American animated musical romantic fantasy film produced by...  more
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    #109 of 575 The Best Animated Films Ever#20 of 297 The Best Duos of All Time

  • Edward Scissorhands4
    137
    45

    Edward Scissorhands

    Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder

    Released1990

    Directed byTim Burton

    Edward Scissorhands is a 1990 American romantic dark fantasy film directed by Tim Burton. An...  more
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  • The Notebook5
    156
    67

    The Notebook

    Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling

    Released2004

    Directed byNick Cassavetes

    The Notebook is a 2004 American romantic drama film directed by Nick Cassavetes and based on...  more
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  • West Side Story6
    91
    43

    West Side Story

    Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno

    Released1961

    Directed byJerome Robbins, Robert Wise

    West Side Story is a 1961 American romantic musical drama film directed by Robert Wise and...  more
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  • Moulin Rouge!7
    94
    49

    Moulin Rouge!

    Nicole Kidman, Ozzy Osbourne

    Released2001

    Directed byBaz Luhrmann

    Moulin Rouge! is a 2001 Australian–American pastiche-jukebox musical film directed, produced,...  more
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  • Romeo and Juliet8
    91
    50

    Romeo and Juliet

    Laurence Olivier, Michael York

    Released1968

    Directed byFranco Zeffirelli

    Romeo and Juliet is a 1968 British-Italian romance film based on the tragic play of the same...  more
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    #50 of 175 The Best Movies Of The '60s#2 of 37 The Best Shakespeare Film Adaptations

  • Suite Française9
    80
    54

    Suite Française

    Michelle Williams, Margot Robbie

    Released2014

    Directed bySaul Dibb

    Suite Française is a 2015 romantic World War II drama film directed by Saul Dibb and...  more
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    #108 of 221 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time#1 of 48 Great Romance Movies Set During World War II

  • Brokeback Mountain10
    111
    88

    Brokeback Mountain

    Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal

    Released2005

    Directed byAng Lee

    Brokeback Mountain is a 2005 American epic romantic drama film directed by Ang Lee. It is a...  more
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  • The Duchess11
    58
    37

    The Duchess

    Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes

    Released2008

    Directed bySaul Dibb

    The Duchess is a 2008 British-American drama film directed by Saul Dibb. It is based on Amanda...  more
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    #2 of 14 Pretty Good Movies About Historical Royals#41 of 78 The Best Period Romance Movies

  • The Bridges of Madison County12
    49
    32

    The Bridges of Madison County

    Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep

    Released1995

    Directed byClint Eastwood

    The Bridges of Madison County is a 1995 American romantic drama film based on the best-selling...  more
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  • Anna Karenina13
    45
    30

    Anna Karenina

    Keira Knightley, Jude Law

    Released2012

    Directed byJoe Wright

    Anna Karenina is a 2012 British epic romantic drama film directed by Joe Wright. Adapted by...  more
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  • The Thorn Birds14
    The Thorn Birds is a television mini-series broadcast on ABC between 27 and 30 March 1983. It...  more
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  • Twilight15
    89
    86

    Twilight

    Kristen Stewart, Ashley Greene

    Released2008

    Directed byCatherine Hardwicke

    Twilight is a 2008 American vampire romance film based on Stephenie Meyer's popular novel of...  more
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  • Underworld16
    24
    10

    Underworld

    Kate Beckinsale, Michael Sheen

    Released2003

    Directed byLen Wiseman

    Underworld is a 2003 action horror film directed by Len Wiseman about the secret history of...  more
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  • Tristan & Isolde17
    45
    35

    Tristan & Isolde

    James Franco, Henry Cavill

    Released2006

    Directed byKevin Reynolds

    Tristan & Isolde is a 2006 epic romantic drama film based on the medieval romantic legend of...  more
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  • The Exception18
    41
    31

    The Exception

    Lily James, Jai Courtney

    Released2016

    Directed byDavid Leveaux

    The Exception is a 2016 romantic war drama film directed by David Leveaux. It is about a...  more
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  • The Graduate19
    41
    35

    The Graduate

    Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft

    Released1967

    Directed byMike Nichols

    The Graduate is a 1967 American comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols. It is based on the...  more
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  • Romeo Must Die20
    17
    8

    Romeo Must Die

    Grace Park, Aaliyah

    Released2000

    Directed byAndrzej Bartkowiak

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  • First Knight21
    29
    24

    First Knight

    Sean Connery, Richard Gere

    Released1995

    Directed byJerry Zucker

    First Knight is a 1995 medieval film based on Arthurian legend, directed by Jerry Zucker. It...  more
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  • The Piano22
    31
    27

    The Piano

    Anna Paquin, Holly Hunter

    Released1993

    Directed byJane Campion

    The Piano is a 1993 romantic drama film about a mute female piano player and her daughter. Set...  more
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  • The English Patient23
    39
    39

    The English Patient

    Willem Dafoe, Ralph Fiennes

    Released1996

    Directed byAnthony Minghella

    The English Patient is a 1996 romantic drama directed by Anthony Minghella from his own script...  more
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  • Underworld: Evolution24
    15
    11

    Underworld: Evolution

    Kate Beckinsale, Michael Sheen

    Released2006

    Directed byLen Wiseman

    Underworld: Evolution is an American action-vampire film directed by Len Wiseman. It is the...  more
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  • Carol25
    28
    34

    Carol

    Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara

    Released2015

    Directed byTodd Haynes

    Carol is a 2015 British-American romantic drama film directed by Todd Haynes, based on the...  more
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