When Harry Met Sally First impressions are not everything and in many cases our first impressions of someone are quite wrong. As humans we are rather quick at times dismiss someone and we never given them a second chance to prove our assumptions false. In the movie When Harry Met Sally, their first impressions of one another summed up the fact that many times as humans we judge people without getting to know them. The first impressions the two characters, Harry and Sally, created of one another were established within moments of meeting, they both did not like the other party.
Sally drove up to find Harry engrossed in a passionate kiss with his girlfriend and kept her waiting while he said his final goodbyes. Sally immediately showed her colors by blaring the car horn and showing impatience. Their trip from Chicago to New York was a long and unproductive drive to help change their first impressions of one another. Harry pegged Sally to be uptight, close-minded, sheltered and stuck up and Sally made the assumptions that Harry was crass, conceded with “unfaithful” tendencies.
On their trip they stopped at a diner for dinner, where Harry preceded to further establish Sally’s first impressions of him by making a pass at her and explaining his theory that men and women could never be platonic friends due a man’s sexual intentions with a women. Sally objected and dismissed Harry of ever being a friend, although he was going to the only person she knew in New York City. Both of their first impressions were based upon their own previous experiences, values and beliefs.
Harry had dated a lot, he had been sexually active with a lot of women and chose to base his first impressions of Sally on this knowledge. Sally on the other hand, sheltered and inexperienced, used only her knowledge that she had to make her judgments of Harry. As the movie continues, Harry and Sally run into one another sporadically over the next ten years and each time you see their relationship change and evolve. After their initial encounter traveling in the car from Chicago to New York, they bump into one another in the airport.
Both of them at very different stages of their lives since the first encounter yet they bump heads again and do not change their first impressions of one another drastically from the first time they met. However, it was the third meeting that something changed in both characters, maybe it was time, experience and changing of values to break their rigid cycle but none the less they decided to try once again to get to know one another. Both characters had just ended a serious relationship with their significant other leaving them at an opportune time to make nice.
Over the next several years they build a bond though open lines of communication, sharing dreams, goals and aspirations, self-disclosing personal information that all leads to building a beautiful platonic relationship. The viewer can see how both characters begin to look at the other as their rock, their best friend and confidant. Their relationship changed over time and they began to respect one another on all levels, love each other passionately, and also protect the other from pain.
Although it was years until the two characters ever became physical intimate with one another you can always tell there was something behind their actions of wanting to be “just friends”. Due to previous relationships, both characters had been hurt and left vulnerable to heartache, forcing both Harry and Sally to be cautious and closed minded to the idea of two of them ever having anything more than being just close friends. The viewer sees their relationship at this point as almost false because both characters are trying to hide their real feelings for one other to protect themselves from getting hurt.
Finally their non-sexual relationship is broken (and although it did not end well after the first encounter), it forced both characters to close off and almost completely lose the friendship they had built. However, it was during this time that both Harry and Sally knew they loved one another on a deeper level than just friends. Throughout the whole movie you see both characters reduce uncertainty though passive, active and physical interaction with one another. You see both characters passively watch the other in many scenes; over dinner, while at their friend’s house, and at the New Years party.
They actively reduce uncertainty by watching the other person interact with others. They observe each other from afar while the other party interacts with not only friends but significant others. They also interact with the “target” directly. They ask questions, answers questions. They discuss what they want from a relationship, what they want from life, their thoughts on children, careers, and love. They use phatic talk (both including verbal and non-verbal communication) to build a bond that allows them to be just as comfortable with one another as they are with themselves.
Although throughout many scenes in the movie you see the two characters, Harry and Sally, reducing uncertainty between the two of them, their past relationships eventually catch up and the viewer can see the growth in their friendship come to a stand still and almost break indefinitely. Although they tried to remain certain in their relationship, their past experiences and feelings of hurt weighted them down and almost prevented them from acting on their feeling of true love.
It is also very interesting to watch how the two characters went though many stages of coming together and apart in both a friend role and then again as an intimate couple. They initiated, experimented, intensified and integrated just as close friends but then they regressed and began a stagnation period, followed by an avoiding phase. All because of their previous experience of love and relationships, I was glad to see in the end that they ended up together and were able to let their guard down to fall in love.