A ten-week old marriage and a tragic accident.
A fierce dichotomy exists between the two, but Kim and Krickitt Carpenter experienced both in 1993 when a car accident stole Krickitt’s memories and forced her husband to make her fall in love with him all over again.
The new movie The Vow is based on their real-life experiences. The romantic drama, starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum as the couple in question, has already hauled in $85 million in just two weeks in theaters. I recently had a chance to talk to the Carpenters about the film and the accident that changed both of their lives.
When I asked how their love story made it to the big screen, Kim noted that “a television report [about the couple] led to a front page of a paper in Albuquerque [which led to] to a research and development firm in California back in 1996.” The president and CEO for that latter company asked if the story was true because if it is, he said “this could become one of the greatest love stories that’s ever been told.”
Although the movie focuses on that love story, it glosses over some of its most dramatic elements. The car accident was actually far worse than it is presented in the film. In real life, Krickitt was given a less than a one percent chance of survival. A doctor even gave her husband a manilla envelope containing a wedding band and watch and told him his wife was “very ill and there’s not much we can do for her.”
Even after he knew his wife would survive, normalcy was still out of reach. His wife no longer remembered him and the relationship that they shared. When he found out about the memory loss, Kim said he felt “the exact same way” that he did when he “didn’t know if she was alive when we were in that car accident.” It was “devastating to me,” he said.
In “The Vow,” the memory loss forces Kim to meet his in-laws, a couple that is estranged from their own daughter. In real life, though, the animosity between the parents and their daughter is nonexistent. In fact, Kim asked Krickitt’s father for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Additionally, the major marital issues between Krickitt’s parents were added by the screenwriters for dramatic effect.
Despite the overt embellishments in the film, both Kim and Krickitt are proud of it. “We were very satisfied with the entire context of the movie,” Kim said, noting that “there were a lot of things that were dead on.”
But of course, the real-life struggle to reconnect was difficult for the young couple but as an ardent believer in marriage, Kim didn’t want his to fall apart. As Kim noted in an interview with Movie Mom Nell Minow, “today’s society accepts the death of a marriage for the smallest of issues. That crumbles the foundation of society. Our biggest prayer is that we hope this move will inspire people, whether they’re married or not, to doing the right thing, making a commitment, look at life in a great way, making good decisions. “
And as Kim told me, a divorce would have prevented their “gems” from entering the world. He said, “If we get divorced…[our children] would never have had a chance at life if we would have given up on one another.”
Thankfully, they never did.
The Vow is in theaters today but if you’re looking for more details on the true story behind the motion picture, check out their new book here.