It was no stretch for Audrey Hepburn to act like the princess of a nameless country. To be a princess often ranks high on the dreams of what-I-want -to-be-when -I-grow-up, but as we see, the job was not as great as it was cracked up to be. It can get tiresome to have to say, day in and day out, "so happy to meet you."
As it turns out, the "so happy" phrase becomes a leitmotif of the film. The bored Princess says it as a mere royal reflex until the day she can look the princely virtuous Gregory Peck in the eye and really mean it.
When the doctor who gave her the magic injection to counteract her tantrum gave her permission to be happy, he had no idea that a lifelong love affair with Rome would ensue.
I hadn't realized until this recent viewing that perhaps the main theme of the film is the power of memory. Although Princess Ann and scoop-hunter Joe Bradley each go off alone at the end with no guarantee of living happily ever after, they will never forget the day they spent together in Rome when they were indeed "so happy."
Regardless of the less than traditionally happy ending, even this serendipitous happiness has a transformative effect on the protagonists and viewers. The contrast between the image of an adolescent princess upending her milk-and-cookie nightcap while beating her pillow, and the regal posture of the princess who recovers her sense of noblesse oblige says it all.
We who are headed tomorrow into the Inferno that will be 100 degree-Rome may melt, but probably not from the heat. Each revisit to Rome marks my attempt to make an attitude adjustment to no longer be the person who two years ago wrote the post, ROMAN HOLIDAY? HELL-A-DAY?
The chances are good. To have a 4-month-old princess granddaughter at the other end can make all the difference in being able to say, "so happy."
( Does one ever get over a fascination with Princesses? Sextagenarian that I am, I see that I have already written about them in ON BEING A PRINCIPESSA (OR IMAGINING THAT YOU ARE)...)