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Top 10 Forbidden Love Movies

VO: Emily Brayton
Script written by Victoria Toltesi Love doesn’t always come easy, but sometimes it’s worth fighting for Join MsMojo, as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Forbidden Love Movies. For this list, we’re looking at live action films that show two people who are mutually in love, but that are kept apart by controlling family members, society, or some other circumstance. That means we’re excluding animated movies. We’ll be talking about major plot points from the movies though, so this is your SPOILER ALERT. Special thanks to our user Jloves-pp for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at

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Top 10 Forbidden Love Movies

Love doesn’t always come easy, but sometimes it’s worth fighting for. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our top picks for Top 10 Forbidden Love Movies.

For this list, we’re looking at live action films that show two people who are mutually in love, but that are kept apart by controlling family members, society, or some other circumstance. That means we’re excluding animated movies. We’ll be talking about major plot points from the movies though, so this is your SPOILER ALERT.

#10: “Dirty Dancing” (1987)

This movie will make you want to sing, dance, and be lifted into the air by Patrick Swayze. Baby and Johnny try to keep their romance a secret because of Baby’s father. Jake Houseman is a wealthy doctor who sees Johnny as an irresponsible, working class bad boy that isn’t good enough for his innocent daughter and their well-to-do family. However, he isn’t the only one who is less than pleased to find out the two have been seeing each other behind his back as resort owner Max Kellerman fires Johnny for breaking the rules about fraternizing with the vacationers. Right when you think their romance is over, though, Johnny comes swooping in with a one-liner and some dirty dancing!

#9: “Moulin Rouge!” (2001)

This sexy musical takes place in Paris in the 1900s at the famous cabaret known as the Moulin Rouge. Satine, played by Nicole Kidman, is a sensual courtesan who is wooed by writer Christian, played by Ewan McGregor. The musical numbers are lively, the sets are vibrant, and their sex appeal is through the roof! But of course, there’s something, or in this case, someone, keeping them apart: the villainous Duke – who is willing to finance Satine’s show as long as he has exclusive rights to her. After the Duke’s efforts to tear them apart fail, a happy ending is dangled in front of us for a brief moment. However, it’s all taken away in one heartbreaking moment when Satine dies from tuberculosis in Christian’s arms.

#8: “Shakespeare in Love” (1998)

In this romantic comedy-drama, Shakespeare gets a taste of his own medicine when he joins the ranks of star-crossed lovers. As just a poor writer, rich noblewoman Viola is way out of his league. Luckily for him, Viola is not your typical noble woman, so she’s willing to dress as a boy so they can see each other. Women had no power during this time, and because she is told to do so, Viola marries Lord Wessex - despite her love for Will. The word ‘unfair’ does not even begin to describe the situation. While Shakespeare and Viola do get to share the stage together, they are unable to continue their love; for the Queen herself couldn’t break the laws of marriage and class in 16th century London.

#7: “The Notebook” (2004)

Two words: Ryan Gosling. You can thank this film for putting him on the map! Now who could turn down someone who looks like him? Allie’s parents, that’s who, because for them, looks aren’t everything; money is. To them, Allie is a rich heiress who shouldn’t be with someone who is “trash” like Noah. So the Hamiltons do what any loving parents would do; ignore their child’s happiness, keep them apart, and hide all the letters Noah writes to Allie, all to keep their daughter – and their precious money - safe. But, despite Allie’s parents, WWII, and Allie’s fiancé, we find out that it isn’t over between them and that it won’t be for many years to come.

#6: “Carol” (2015)

Though we could’ve chosen also “Far from Heaven” for this list, it’s Todd Haynes’ other Oscar-nominated film “Carol” that made the final cut. The romantic drama tackles the hardships that homosexuals faced in the 1950s, with Cate Blanchett playing the powerful Carol, and Rooney Mara as the much more timid Therese. The two have such chemistry that it only seems right that they be together, and it’s all the more frustrating when society, and Carol’s husband, make things so difficult for them. In this relationship, Carol is the real warrior, as she gives a big middle finger to all that try and stand in her, and Therese’s, way.

#5: “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967)

This comedy drama sees Joanna and John having to fight to get approval from their parents to get married, which is complicated by the fact that they are an interracial couple. This was a big deal at the time because interracial marriage was illegal through more than half of the 1960s – and in fact, anti-miscegenation laws would only be abolished during the same year that the film was released. Bolstered by powerful acting performances, knowing that “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” was Spencer Tracy’s last film makes his final speech even more chilling and emotional – and adds even more poignancy to Joanna and John’s love story.

#4: “West Side Story” (1961)

You could call this the 20th century New York version of Romeo and Juliet, but with music! In this romantic musical drama, Maria is a member of the Puerto Rican gang the Sharks, and Tony is a member of the rival white gang, the Jets. This isn’t the ideal situation for a budding romance and, so no matter what they do, they just can’t seem to erase the years of hatred between the gangs. As such, the lovers decide that the only way they can be together is by running away and get married in secret. But, as we have seen in several entries on this list already, forbidden love stories tend to end in tragedy. And unfortunately, it’s no different for this couple. Tony is shot by Maria’s arranged fiancé Chino, and he dies in her arms.

#3: “Brokeback Mountain” (2005)

WARNING: this movie will make you cry. It tackles the homophobia that was rampant in America in the 1960s through the story of Ennis, played by Heath Ledger, and Jack, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. The two cowboys fall in love but must live apart for fear of being discriminated against, or worse - killed. The few times they do get to see each other demonstrates how much they truly love each other, and how unjust it is that they can’t be together. The women and children in their lives serve to complicate matters further, but it’s the romantic drama’s ending that really pulls at your heart strings and leaves very few moviegoers with dry eyes.

#2: “Romeo + Juliet” (1996)

Romeo and Juliet are arguably the most famous star-crossed lovers in history. You know the story, but here’s a quick recap: Romeo is a Montague and Juliet is a Capulet, which means that they are from two duelling families that will never let them be together, so in the end they take their own lives. What makes this version of the play so memorable is that it keeps the poetic language of Shakespeare, and contrasts it with modern day sets, weapons, and clothes! Director Baz Luhrmann makes the double suicide even more heartbreaking when we’re allowed to watch Juliet with a little glimmer of hope as she wakes up to see Romeo in his final dying moments. But this is all too quickly taken away when she realizes the truth and takes her own life shortly thereafter.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

“Boys Don’t Cry” (1999)

“Jungle Fever” (1991)

“Memoirs of a Geisha” (2005)

“The English Patient” (1996)

#1: “Titanic” (1997)

At the top of our list is another story in which we find parents standing in the way of true love. Rose’s family, to put it bluntly, are complete snobs. To them, a person’s character is measured by wealth, and that puts Jack, a penniless artist, at about a 0… They will only sell Rose to the highest bidder, which is how she gets a fiancé like Cal. But the teenaged Rose won’t have any of it and decides to keep seeing with the lower class Jack while she is on board the Titanic. Though they spit, dance, and fly together, fate has other plans for the couple. Though the unsinkable ship ultimately sinks, Jack proves that money doesn’t make the man when he makes the ultimate sacrifice to save Rose. Their love may have been forbidden, but it was also undeniably one of the most memorable to ever be put to screen.

Do you agree with our list? Which forbidden romance film had you taking out the tissues? For more lists that tug at the heartstrings, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo.


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