How 500 Days of Summer gets the Manic Pixie Dream Girl right

How 500 Days of Summer gets the Manic Pixie Dream Girl right


Hi. My name is Gabe and in this video
I’ll be looking into 500 Days of Summer. Before I start,
you should know there are spoilers ahead. I think this is one of the most misunderstood
films in recent years, misunderstood because it did something very powerful
that few people seem to have noticed. From what I’ve seen, people generally reach
one of two conclusions about 500 Days of Summer: that Summer is a bitch
who treated Tom terribly, or that Tom is an idiot. Additionally, almost everyone thinks
Summer is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, regardless of whether or not she is a bitch. Real quick, if you’ve never heard of the
Manic Pixie Dream Girl, she is a stock character that has existed for a long time,
but was only identified about a decade ago. Basically, she is a quirky, attractive, fun
loving gal who is perfect in every way, including perfect for our hero, whom she adores. In addition to this,
her main purpose in life is to complete him, she is whatever he needs so he can grow. The character represents
a certain wish fulfillment from the writer, someone probably with demons
who longs for a girl to complete him. Think Sam in Garden State. You know what I do
when I feel completely unoriginal? Blah blah blah blah blah lah I make a noise or I do something
that no one has ever done before and then I can feel unique again
even if it’s only for like a second. Yeah… Oh, and Manic Pixie Dream Boys
also exist, but they are much rarer. So, is Summer a
Manic Pixie Dream Girl, or is she a bitch? Is Tom a victim or is he an idiot? I think you know what I need. It’s easy to answer these questions
based on our own experiences, but what about what the film itself has to say? It turns out that hidden under the surface,
500 Days of Summer is doing something very specific, something that answers
all these questions and then some. To understand this,
we need to look at the film’s perspective. Because movies are made with cameras
and cameras are inherently subjective, movies are inherently subjective as well. There are two ways filmmakers can deal with this: one is to mitigate it and
try to make the film as objective as possible, and the other is to use it to their advantage,
to use the subjectiveness to make the film better. 500 Days of Summer chooses the latter. Not only that,
it does so through only one character. This is in opposition to most romances,
which are usually depicted from both the male and female’s perspective. In this film, however,
we only experience what Tom experiences. The film isn’t subtle about it either. Just look at this moment, or this, or this, or this. This last example is particularly powerful,
it is Tom’s darkest moment and as such, the color is literally removed from the film. But it’s not just these more extreme moments,
everything in this film takes Tom’s perspective. This is most directly shown
in the fact that Tom is in every scene. If Tom isn’t there experiencing
the events himself, the scene isn’t in the film. The cinematography also reflects Tom’s perspective. Los Angeles is depicted much more
beautifully than an objective view would show, because Tom is a romantic
and that’s how he sees the world. This is especially true when he is with Summer: Tom and Summer’s scenes contain
many of the most beautiful shots in the film. Likewise, the sound design reflects
Tom’s perspective, specifically this whistle, [whistle music] which occurs whenever
Summer inspires Tom, but never the other way around. Heck even the music represents Tom,
sometimes the lyrics literally saying what he is feeling. ♪♪ I’m the hero of this story, don’t need to be saved.
I’m the hero of this story, don’t need to be saved. ♪♪ ♪♪ It’s alright, it’s alright,
it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright ♪♪ And the title cards reflect him too, the color behind
them matching the quality of the day he is having. But it’s not just structure and technique
that are depicted through Tom’s perspective, everything is. Everything, including the other characters. McKenzie is the lovable loser
because that’s how Tom sees him. Paul is the loyal friend
because that’s how Tom sees him. Vance is the dopey boss
because that’s how Tom sees him. Rachel is a relationship expert
because that’s how Tom sees her. And most importantly, Summer is a Manic Pixie
Dream Girl because that’s how Tom sees her. Objectively,
Summer is not a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. This is because even though she is quirky
and fun, she also has her own wants and desires; she doesn’t exist just to complete Tom. You don’t believe that a woman
could enjoy being free and independent? Tom however, does not see this,
he sees her as everything he wants, regardless of her own wants and needs. I mean, listen to how he talks about her, I love how she makes me feel. – Hi! They said you weren’t coming.
– You asked if I was- I know that she’s the only person
in the entire universe that will make me happy. it’s always about him. Even when Summer finally
opens up and is vulnerable with Tom, I’ve never told anybody that before. it’s still about him, not her. Well, I guess I’m not just anybody. This is a major reason
why their relationship fails. Tom doesn’t understand love;
he simply sees women as Manic Pixie Dream Girls. Just listen to what
he has to say on the matter, him versus Paul, Paul addresses the fantasy dream girl directly, I think technically the girl of my dreams
would probably have, like, a really bodacious rack, you know, maybe different hair, she’d
probably be a little more into sports. But truthfully,
Robin is better than the girl of my dreams. She’s real. while Tom has nothing to say at all. But while a lesser film might end here,
500 Days of Summer keeps going, for in the end, this happens. Summer! I really do hope that you’re happy. For the first time,
Tom and Summer’s relationship is about her, not him. This is possible because Tom has matured;
he no longer sees girls as Manic Pixie Dream Girls. Remember in the beginning,
when the narrator says this: This is a story of boy meets girl, but you
should know up front, this is not a love story. He was right.
This isn’t a love story, it is a coming of age film; the film is about Tom becoming an adult,
something he did during his 500 days of Summer. To show it succinctly, compare these moments: one at the beginning of Tom’s relationship with Summer, You could just ask her out. Don’t be stupid. the other at the beginning
of his relationship with Autumn. I was just wondering if maybe after this,
if you’d want to get some coffee or something? Tom could barely even talk to Summer,
and yet he asks Autumn out no problem, and doesn’teven take it personally
when she initially rejects him. So, going back to our original questions: was Tom an idiot? No, he simply had yet to grow up. Was Summer a bitch? Honestly, we don’t know, as we
haven’t had even close to an objective view of her. Is Summer a Manic Pixie Dream Girl? Definitely not, that’s simply how Tom saw her,
even though she actually was a lot more. But more important than all this, none of
these questions are even what the film is about; the film isn’t about
Tom and Summer, it’s about Tom, the film isn’t about love,
or finding your soulmate, it’s about growing up. Who’s singing next? I nominate young Werther here. I’m not nearly drunk enough to- Bartender! [Here Comes Your Man]

100 thoughts on “How 500 Days of Summer gets the Manic Pixie Dream Girl right

  1. This movie is a perfect example of the principle of least interest. Summer isn't a bad person per se, but she was obviously less interested in Tom than Tom was interested in her, so she held all the power in the relationship. Notice how it's Summer who initiates the argument and the breakup not Tom. It's only in the end of the movie that Tom realizes Summer doesn't really love him but just considers him as a friend, allowing him to move on with his life. The main message is either you're fully committed in a relationship or you're not. Casual relationships only work if both sides fully understand that it's casual.

  2. It even has the line about “A tragic misreading of the last scene of The Graduate.” It’s like Marc Webb new people wouldn’t get this movie.

  3. Insightful analysis. Love how you talk about perspective, I have never thought of that and realize now what a major role it plays in this movie. I watched this movie for the first time when it came out, I was 13. I was completely on Summer's side and thought Tom was stupid for falling so hard and romanticising her. Since then I've been in almost exactly Tom's situation and I can see where he's coming from.

    I rewatched this movie today and what stood out to me this time was that Summer still kept him in her life, even though she knew it would hurt him. That's the same thing as the girl I fell in love with did (except worse). The scene that really hit me was when they are going home from the wedding, and she falls asleep on his shoulder…anyone who's ever been a Tom knows that's torture. And Summer should have known too… However I also think that Summer was just trying to be nice in many situations (inviting him to the party, saying hi when she sees him randomly etc.) without really knowing what that meant to him. It's all about the perspective again. In the sleep/train scene (again) she's just tired, but for Tom that's the "I still have a chance" moment that only exist in his world.

  4. I love you, who ever made this. I love you. My heart hurts all over again in a beautiful new way. Thank you.

  5. Brilliant. Just brilliant. You articulated what I was never able to in my arguments with people about this movie.

  6. It's very funny how yesterday I saw a video saying totally the opposite that summer wasn't a manic pixie dream girl

  7. Manic pixie dream is just a girl/guy who doesn't decide, who doesn't have character. They just love to complete someone else. They're the backup character, and dull. That's how u know she's not.

  8. I have never heard of the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" until I saw videos reviewing this particular movie but the title makes sense. I thought this movie was dull though. I didn't care for either character.

  9. This is probably the best criticism of this movie.i have seen this so many times. Been going something similar recently .

  10. Pretty good points. But what about the fact that she was already painted as a manic pixie dream girl right from the beginning (by the narrator)? It wasn't really from Tom's POV but what she was presented to be.

  11. Really loved how you analysed the movie and gave a fresh perspective to the whole story. I never thot that she was a bitch but could never explain it so well to others. I have been in her shoes and still feel sorry for the guy. What should i say..These things just happen.

  12. I have been saying same thing to my friends.
    yes.
    I had a breakup and when I am going through what happened really,
    why couldnt I love him such deeply as he did,
    the final answer came to mind is always this film.

  13. I think I need to rewatch this film. When I first saw it, I really thought Summer was a bitch. That she was lucky Tom fell for her. But right now after watching this, I've compared and contrasted this with my current situation and man, I've never thought the day I could relate to Summer would actually come. Before, I was a Tom. Romantic and head over the clouds. Easily confused and attracted. But when I met a Tom, I became a Summer. Once you realise you can never fulfill the shoes a person has made for you, then you would finally know it will never work.
    Lastly, I would like to leave this as an afterthought for all of you.

    You are you.
    And I am I.
    I am not in this world to live up to your expectations.
    And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
    You are you.
    And I am I.
    And if by chance we find each other, that's beautiful.
    If not, it can't be helped.
    Fritz Perls
    Gestalt Prayer, 1969

  14. I agree 100%. Tom was completely immature, and I always saw him like a guy who just kept on acting like every heartbreak was the first one ever. However, I do think that Summer is selfish. Not because she dumped him, but because she knew how he felt and kept on going out with him anyway, for more than a year, knowing full well he'd end up hurting real bad. Also, all the times she poked fun at him for keeping his safe job and not pursuing architecture. That was mean. And the way she broke up with him. In a restaurant, over pancakes !! And the fact that she didn't tell him once, neither during the wedding, nor her party, that she got married… Not even six months after they broke up (was she seeing her future husband at the same time as Tom? Bc well, of so, she should have told him) I wasn't rooting for them as a couple at all, because it is very easy to see it won't work out. But I wish they were both… More likable. Tom was annoyingly immature and could be a straight up asshole, while Summer was cold and seemed to be unable to feel empathy for others

  15. Just an observation about Summer's point of view, cuz this was showed on the movie when she talks about who she is and how she deals with feelings (about wake up and realize that he isn't the one or love being a fantasy) but the screenplay ignores it to focus in Tom's perspective and how childish he is at that point of the film.

  16. Finally someone said it!!! Thank you for this wonderful analysis. 500 days of summer is one of my favorite movies, and it's clearly more than just "a love story". So. Much. More!!!

  17. I think the movie is also about love, but not a love story, a story about how people see it, look for it, paint a picture of it, and most importantly, how they need it

  18. The film is about projection. Tom projected what he wanted onto Summer…. after finding out she loved his taste in music and she is obviously beautiful.

  19. THANK YOU!!!! I was saying this for years. The movie is from Tom's perspective. People think Summer is a bitch sadly 🙄 It's one of my favorite movies❤️

  20. To be honest, I think the majority of people fall in the trap of either being that manic-pixie-dream guy/girl for someone or they themselves ‘’fall in love’’ with one, because of the amount of romantic movies and novels building unrealistic images of love. People spend hours watching and reading stuff packed with love scenarios that rarely happen in real life. And part of growing up is through falling in such trap, and then crashing with reality to understand that life is much more meaningful than those images we build inside our heads. I’ve ‘’fallen in love’’ with a manic-pixie-dream girl before. She was mean af sometimes but I was weak af, as well, to have some dignity and walk away. Then again I’m greatful for every depressing moment I had to go through to reach the conclusion that people aren’t perfect and that real life requires you to put all of your expectations aside, and accept people with all the bullsht they’re carrying along. Eventually, We are all full of imperfections.

  21. The part of realizing the truth is when I realized I was Tom in the past to one Summer and I understand Tom and hate Summer; after 10 years , I was “Summer” to one “Tom” and I finnally understand Summer feeling

  22. I think I started pushing someone I like into a relationship because of how I want him to be. I envisioned what he can be, but when I look at what he is today it is not enough. It's hard to admit that I've done this to someone. My question is, if anyone has some advice, how do I stop creating manic pixie dream men in my mind?

  23. I’d seen this movie a few years back and I was like Tom at the time. I really thought Summer was a bitch because I also was thinking only about my needs and myself. I’m no longer with the girl I was with at the time, I’m not with anyone actually, and yet I couldn’t help but rethink this movie , for it had caused me severe pain the first time I watched it and now I can’t help but understand and agree with this video. All I can say, is that nobody should take it too hard if something doesn’t work out in a relationship, no matter how ideal it seemed at the time, you’ll grow a lot and know how to handle life a little better. No matter what though, don’t forget to always be positive and loving towards most people. don’t shut your hearts and don’t let your ego drive you. And ffs, love yourselves first so that others can love you later also.

  24. i have just broke up and after watching this video, the more i feel like tom and i'm the one who push my perspective over her and i'm sorry for her. 🙁

  25. 500 days of Summer is one of my all-time favorite movies. Because of this! Before watching this movie I would say I was pretty much like Tom. I still am in a sense, since I haven´t had the opportunity to grow since I haven´t been in that kind of relationship. But I must say, this movie helped me realize something that I already knew but just didn´t want to be true. That love is not happily ever after.

  26. This will always be one of my favourite films for its authentic and realistic depiction on how we subjectively view relationships due to media consumption.

  27. I guess even though Summer was shown to have her own life beyond the box that Tom's mpdg fantasy put her in, in the end she still functioned as a mpdg in the arc of the movie by helping Tom to grow.

  28. EXACTLY WHAT I WAS THINKING! I also think there is so much people don’t think about but when you point to the public that it’s just in toms perspective then it opens everything ❤️ keep up the good work

  29. I was the tom once. I realized that I didn't see him by who he was. He was just a guy I loved. It was hard to find out what was wrong with us. Even now one can say it was merely a relationship until the love dissapeared. But no, I saw past his character, saw past his flaws, needs and worries. I was not able to do so because he was the type to never show. Even though we have been together for so long, he still was a lonely wolf. I didn't get to him. So how could I have been able to see him for who he was?
    Also maybe I was even a summer for him. I had the feeling he didn't fully understand me, avoiding me or stay silent when I felt bad. He just didn't know how to handle it when I told him my problems. I felt like he ignored them. After we broke up, he admitted that he told his best friend: "Why can't it always be fun?" I was his loved girlfriend when I was happy. But when I was sad, he just pretended that everything was okay. He didn't want me for who I really am. I don't know if there is a happy girl out there that never has problems.
    The reason he broke up was, that my problems became a burden for him… And only after the break up I saw that he isn't my sweet hero, but also a guy with flaws and problems. I always thought of him as if he was a divine being without flaws. It destroied us. It was hard because he always told me that everything is okay and that he can handle anything. Like a unintended hidden macho. He never showed any weakness. It was hard for me to see that he was weak too and needed me to be a hero too. I felt like I was of no use, like a damsel in distress. He didn't want to turn me into one, but he did. I wish that my toxic love wouldn't have blinded me. If only I understood earlier, we wouldn't have been so sad.

  30. Wow, my friend, your interpretation and breakdown of the subtleties in this film imbues both depth and meaning 🙂

    I'm really impressed and cannot wait to view your other clips. The editing was good too – Here's wishing all a blessed week. Xx

  31. Amazing job with subtitles. It helps people to get close your creativity. Respect from Russia😎👍

  32. Thanx for the video, it was interesting to watch! one of the common topics – human relationships- very informative material ! 👍👌🧐

  33. I just don't get the part where Summer "doesn't want a relationship". Maybe because of the culture I'm used to here in the Philippines. Having sex, holding hands, doing romantic things, but not wanting a relationship seems nonsensical to me. Was she attracted to Tom? A little bit? I don't get it. But then again, maybe it's just the culture.

  34. It's crazy how this video was recommended to me just after realizing that this boy I'm friends with is idealizing me the same way Tom does with Summer (I've never watched this movie nor did I even know what the term "manic pixie dream girl" means)…never happened to me before, so this is still very weird… thank you, now I know that I should do sth!
    Amazing analysis!

  35. Whilst Tom might’ve been in love with the idea of Summer. Summer doesn’t really help. I can excuse the stuff at the beginning because hook ups happen and honestly relationships don’t always need labels. However once she is in a relationship, happily and maybe in love- she still dances with him and flirts with him at the wedding. I think at that point she should’ve mentioned it to him. Even if she didn’t flirt with him etc she should’ve told him.

  36. Before I would finish this video, I'll say how I understood this film. Tom wasn't a right man for Summer and Summer wasn't a right woman for Tom. They felt great with each other for a bit of time but their differences won their relationship and that's why they broke up. Yup, Tom is cute and all. But he did not saw Summer as a human being and he saw her only as his dream. Summer understood that Tom wanted a RELATIONSHIP but ignored this big difference in their view of the world and started to be with him. She probably had her own fantasies about him too. Both of them are complex and did not had a bad intentions. They are just a 'human beings'. And film is more about 'shit happens' than about 'Tom/Summer is bad blah blah blah'

  37. She’s not a manic pixie girl!! Manic pixie girls are supposed to be one dimensional characters who serve to only show the protagonist that life is good! She’s a complex person who just wanted something casual that he kept framing as a manic pixie girl out of his own selfishness and inability to listen to her wants

  38. I wouldnt say Summer was a bitch mostly because she was clear that she didnt want a relationship from the start and you cant control how you feel for someone else. Plus, the film is definitely bias to Tom but that whole wedding scene she had a boyfriend and she knew how Tom felt towards her yet she still lead him on during all of it. Very douchebag move on her part.

  39. Ok thank you for this it gives me a knew perspective maybe I can go back and watch it again. I always just felt she was a bitch and he didn't have a pair. I'll get back to you 😀

  40. I was studying for my theology test before watching this and one of the questions was “what is love?” Which is the willing good of another person and this video shows that Tom didn’t love summer rather he saw her as lust

  41. The last scene scene on the bench just broke me up. Felt real bad for tom(although it is the movies fault). Great acting by both. Fell in love with Zooey after this movie. Very underrated movie. Very good analysis dude. Have always felt this movie is not understood fully. It has many layers.

  42. 9:04
    To the question if Summer is a bitch. I mean, she wants a friends with benefits situation, that's quite bitchy imo.
    But that's just my opinion of course, objectively speaking she didn't do anything to actually hurt Tom.

  43. In my opinion Tom is deeply flawed because he gives summer a huge obligation to satisfy his needs and be his version of herself, but summer is also deeply flawed. She lead him on unfairly with the romantic behavior and new he liked her but didn’t give him the truth he deserved and failed to be honest with him.

  44. sadly im in a relationship likes this and imma have to end it because im not what he wants me to be 🙁 and i cannot fulfil what he wants but i am not myself with him and i have my own life and he doesnt know what i waant

  45. "The Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) "exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures."[1] MPDGs are said to help their men without pursuing their own happiness, and such characters never grow up; thus, their men never grow up.[2]

    If that's the case, wasn't Summer was an MPDG of a kind? It was her leaving Tom that helped him to go after his true desires.

    It was her absence which was the catalyst, not her presence.

    In fact, Tom had suppressed his true desires and so they found an outlet in his infatuation with Summer ("Buried feelings don't die").

    Once she left, he realised that he could no longer hide from his real ambitions.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manic_Pixie_Dream_Girl
    Manic Pixie Dream Girl – Wikipe

  46. Great analysis! Congrats! Though, I have to be honest and say that I don´t agree with your point as to the role played by the female protagonist. To me, she`s not a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (I agree with you), however, she deceives him since she knows she´s got the power of manipulating him after he shows his cards openly. She could have left him much earlier when, for example, he got mad with her after the fight bar scene and drew boundaries. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-K2VFi4CDLo)
    kind regards, mate.

  47. Good analysis–I particularly liked the stuff about subjective camera work. However, even if it's a coming of age story for Tom, I loathe how men get to use (and fuck up) women as part of their own 'learning curve', and how culture treats girlfriends like unpaid finishing schools for men. I also think it was corny af calling the next woman Autumn–as a friend said when it came out, it implies that women are "seasons with vaginas" (not that vaginas determine womanhood).

    The betrayal that comes from realising a guy just liked a fantasy of you reminds me of this bit in Gone Girl: "Committing to Nick, feeling safe with Nick, being happy with Nick, made me realize that there was a Real Amy in there, and she was so much better, more interesting and complicated and challenging, than Cool Amy. Nick wanted Cool Amy anyway. Can you imagine, finally showing your true self to your spouse, your soul mate, and having him _not like you_? So that’s how the hating first began. I’ve thought about this a lot, and that’s where it started, I think." Such a crushing experience.

  48. This explanation makes me fall in love more than ever with the film. You have explained the film so succinctly, things that I wasn't able to put in words

  49. If you ever question if your s/o loves you just ask: Do you love me ? Or do you love your idealized version of me ?

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