This Is What Should Happen in the Next Before Sunrise Movie

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 28 2011 5:41 PM

The Best Ideas for Before Sunrise Part III

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Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke (pictured, from left to right, at the Academy Awards in 2005) are reportedly discussing a follow-up to their 2004 collaboration, 'Before Sunset'.

Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images

When we announced a contest for the best Before Sunrise Part III synopsis last week, I figured we’d get some clever and amusing suggestions (and we did). I didn’t expect the number of detailed and earnest imaginings of Jesse and Celine’s future that poured forth from our readers, however—a testament to the love inspired by the work of director Richard Linklater and his two stars (and co-writers) Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke.

David Haglund David Haglund

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

We received enough such entries to learn something, I think, about the fans of these movies (a group to which I proudly belong). We’re divided on whether Jesse and Celine should be together by the time the next movie begins—but united on the question of their ultimate union (no later than the end of part III, please). Whenever Jesse and Celine do finally get together, most of us believe that their marriage will require just as much work as most marriages do, despite the storybook quality of their initial encounter (to suggest otherwise would betray the realism of the first two movies, Before Sunset in particular).

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New York was the most popular location for part III, though some contended that a European backdrop was essential. The non-New York suggestions ran the gamut, from Rome and London to Vancouver and Phnom Penh.

Finally, a somewhat disturbing number of us believe that either Jesse, Celine, or Jesse’s wife contracted a terminal illness sometime after the last movie ended.

Before I reveal the winner, a few nods to just a few of the many other delightful entries. In the comedy category, Austinlad’s entry finishes high. His version is called After Taxes:

The young lovers, Jesse and Celine, no longer all that young, discover that the lousy economy in Europe has put them both in dire financial straits and decide to squeeze a few dollars more out of the Before/After franchise.

Commenter Dave suggests the title Before Sunrise, Before Sunset: “They move to New York, convert to Judaism, and re-enact the movie Fiddler on the Roof.” Ryan H also deserves mention: His synopsis at first resembles many of the earnest entries—Jesse and Celine live together, their marriage is disappointing—until Celine, sitting listlessly in their dull suburban home, asks “Isn’t it starting?” Then “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” kicks in, and Ryan H reveals his title:  Before CSI: Miami.

We received multiple zombie and vampire entries, among them rlewis53’s After Sunset (set in a “post-apocalyptic cityscape, somewhere”), Mark Weiss’s Betwixt Dawn and Dusk, and hoodoozephyr’s Before Twilight. As a Mad Men fan, I liked Grant11955’s one-word entry: Nooner. And as someone who is still a little bit nervous about the next Before Sunrise movie, I was given pause by commenter Paul’s idea: “Maybe we should cancel the film in pre-production, having titled it Before We Screw Up a Good Thing...”

Among the more earnest proposals, I especially liked two: First, tradergene imagines a film called Before Sunday, in which Jesse and Celine are married and living in London, unable to conceive a child of their own. One Saturday, as each awaits a separate overseas trip, the two get to talking—and arguing. “As they share a ride to the airport,” tradergene writes, “one gets the feeling that they are going to make things work, as imperfect as their lives have turned out to be.” 

Commenter Cody envisions a third part called After Midnight, in which Jesse and Celine are not married—they spent a month together in Paris after Before Sunset, then went their separate ways. They’re in Brussels: Celine for a key European Union vote concerning the environment—which will take place at midnight—Jesse on another book tour. “Celine returns to Jesse before the vote comes,” Cody writes. “And they sit waiting for midnight together, unsure what the future will bring.”

But the winning entry takes a different tack entirely. The commenter’s name is Beau, and he is clearly a Linklater aficionado. Here is his suggestion in full:

My idea is for a film called Sunrise to Sunset: a sequel to Before Sunrise and a prequel to Before Sunset. Using the rotoscoping technique that Linklater innovated in Waking Life (2001), a movie in which Jesse and Celine briefly and dreamily appeared, Sunrise to Sunset would explore variations of possibilities of the relationship that might have existed if the two had met in Prague six months after the events of the first film. The animation would suit the content well, since we would inevitably read the film’s action as having never really happened. This would continue the philosophical predilection in Linklater’s work that has been present since his first film, Slacker. And it would leave Before Sunrise and Before Sunset basically unchanged, to be approached in much the same way that they are. And it would be beautiful. Of course, I’m also curious to see how Linklater, Delpy, and Hawke may choose to extend the story of Jesse and Celine into the future. But there could always be another film in 2020.

Beau: Send your mailing address to BrowBeatSlate@gmail.com and we’ll mail you Before Sunset on DVD.

And thank you everyone for your terrific entries! They made for very enjoyable reading. I hope that somewhere Richard Linklater’s assistant is taking notes...

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