The song is from the film: The Way We Were (1973); film clips accompany the music.
The song was on Billboard's Hot 100 for 23 weeks, and sold more than one million copies. Billboard has also ranked the song as no 90 on its list of Greatest Songs of All Time.
The film won the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Song and also made the American Film Institute's list of Top 100 Songs from Film, ranking number eight.
Director: Sydney Pollack
Writer: Arthur Laurents, and 1 more credit
Stars: Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford and Bradford Dillman
Release Date: October 19, 1973 (USA)
The film's storyline brings into sharp focus a few thing that work against this couple: political activism and its clash with everyday pragmatism, socio-economic and cultural differences and, of course, the price of conviction, and how it is often leads to a loss, in this case, of romantic love.
The writer, Arthur Laurents, wrote his screenplay based on a real personality and political activist of the 1930s and '40s, Kate Morosky, whom he met while at Cornell University. Ms. Morosky was an outspoken political activist.
Here are some notes about the film:
The movie begins with the Katie Morosky (Barbara Streisand) running into Hubbell Gardner (Robert Redford), an All-American popular jock she went to college with, some time after World War II. Though some other summaries claim it's been about 20 years, that is not really the case. It's probably been more like 10 years since college, and Hubbell has written his first novel and later joined the navy while Katie continues to work hard and remains very much involved in the grassroots level of politics.
Katie, who had a crush on Hubbell back in college, is still very attracted to him and soon the two start an "on again off again" relationship. Eventually Katie ends up giving up her voice and her interest in politics in order to hold on to Hubbell and they get married. However, when Hubbell begins to compromise his literary talent by abandoning his novel writing for writing screenplays for Hollywood, their marriage begins its downfall.
When the government begins its witch-hunt for communists among Hollywood writers and producers, Katie's politically active personality re-emerges and causes even more problems between the lovers. Soon everything leads to Hubbell having an affair with his college-sweetheart,who is also the ex-wife of his best friend, while his wife is pregnant with their child.
At first Katie wants to work things out, even though she knows about the affair. However, she soon begins to see their relationship for what it always was: not meant to be. She realizes that they've always desired different things and that they can no longer continue to build a life on the lies they tell themselves. She asks Hubbell to stay with her until their baby is born. Afterward, they go their separate ways. Years later, they run into one another in New York.
Katie has remarried and her husband is a good father to their daughter, Rachel. Hubbell on the other hand has a typically pretty, simple girl with him, the kind of girl Katie never could be. They have a short conversation and briefly remember "the way they were."
Katie (Barbra Streisand) says to Hubbell: "Your girl is lovely, Hubbell," and this is followed by one of the most romantic scenes in the movie, where you realize that Hubbell is still very much in love with Katie and he realizes what he has lost, but he also knows he could never have lived up to her expectations of him.
Once again they go their separate ways with a bittersweet goodbye; she, a confident and beautiful political activist, and Hubbell, a talented writer squandering his talent by writing television scripts.
The Way We Were
Writers: Alan Bergman,
Marilyn Bergman &Marvin Hamlisch
Light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories
Of the way we were
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were
Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time re-written every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we? Could we?
Memories, may be beautiful and yet
What's too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it's the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember...
The way we were...
The way we were...