Endless Love (1981)

Endless Love (1981)

Taglines: She is 15. He is 17. The love every parent fears.

Two young teenagers, Jade Butterfield and David Axelrod, fall in love with each other. But the passion is too consuming for Jade’s bohemian parents. Her parents try to stop them from seeing each other. But when this doesn’t work, David burns down the house and is sent to a mental hospital. This doesn’t stop him from seeing her. When he gets out, he goes to look for her and remains in love with her. But in the end, the passion for his first love is too strong and she has to leave or this love will kill both of them.

Endless Love is a 1981 American romantic drama film based on the 1979 novel of the same name by Scott Spencer. The film is directed by Franco Zeffirelli and stars Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt. The screenplay was written by Judith Rascoe. The original music score was composed by Jonathan Tunick.

The film was released in July 1981 and received negative reviews, with critics comparing it unfavourably to the novel. Spencer disliked it, believing the filmmakers to have missed the point of the book. The film was a moderate box-office success, and its theme song, performed by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie and also called “Endless Love”, became a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. It spent nine weeks at #1 and received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for “Best Original Song,” along with five Grammy nominations.

Endless Love (1981) - Brooke Shields

About the Story

In suburban Chicago, teenagers Jade Butterfield and David Axelrod fall in love after they are introduced by Jade’s brother Keith. Jade’s family is known in their community for a bohemian lifestyle, allowing them to develop an all-consuming and passionate relationship; including allowing the two to make love in Jade’s bedroom. In contrast to the openness of her family, David’s home life is dull; his parents are wealthy political activists who have little interest in their son’s life.

One night, Jade’s mother Ann sneaks downstairs, and upon seeing Jade and David make love by the fireplace, starts living through them vicariously. Jade’s father Hugh, however, watches the couple with increasing unease. Jade’s nightly trysts begin negatively impacting her grades and her ability to sleep. She attempts to steal one of her father’s prescription sleeping pills but is caught in the act. This is the last straw for Hugh and he insists David stop seeing Jade until the end of the school term in 30 days. Although David initially causes a scene, Ann gently coaxes him into agreeing, telling him not to let Hugh “do something he’ll regret”.

Back at school, David’s friend Billy tells him that when he was eight years old he tried burning a pile of newspapers and after he became scared, put the fire out, only to find his parents think he was a hero for saving the house from burning. Inspired by this story, David starts a fire on the Butterfields’ front porch and walks away briefly but by the time he returns, the flame has spread too far. He rushes to warn the family but he is too late, the entire house is lost.

Following the trial, David is convicted of second-degree arson, sentenced to five years probation, sent to a mental hospital for evaluation, and is forbidden from ever going near Jade or her family again. Nevertheless, he continues to write daily, but his letters are not sent due to the court order to not contact Jade. His parents pull strings to have him released early, much to Hugh’s chagrin. David receives his many letters upon his exit, and upon realizing why Jade never wrote back, decides to pursue her even though he knows full well that it will violate his parole.

In the meantime, following the loss of their home, the Butterfield family has moved from Chicago to Manhattan, and Ann and Hugh divorce. In Manhattan, Ann tries to seduce David, but he refuses which leaves her rather nonplussed. When Ann isn’t looking, David thumbs through her address book to see where Jade is. On his way over, Hugh sees David on the street and while chasing him, is hit by a car and killed. Hugh’s new wife Ingrid Orchester, catches up to the scene just in time to witness David flee.

Endless Love Movie Poster (1981)

Endless Love (1981)

Directed by: Franco Zeffirelli
Starring: Brooke Shields, Martin Hewitt, Shirley Knight, Don Murray, Richard Kiley, James Spader, Penelope Milford, Jan Miner
Screenplay by: Judith Rascoe
Production Design by: Ed Wittstein
Cinematography by: David Watkin
Film Editing by: Michael J. Sheridan
Costume Design by: Kristi Zea
Set Decoration by; Alan Hicks
Art Direction by: Edward Pisoni
Music by: Jonathan Tunick
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release Date: July 17, 1981