Feature: Crying At The Movies – A Guide To Your Tears
It is a rare creature that never cries at movies.
As cynical, tough or stubborn as you are, films are designed to launch multi-pronged attacks on your composure – through story, speech, music or vision – and there is more than one out there that’ll wear you the fuck down, Iceman.
People connect with different things and find that there are different frequencies to their heartstrings. There are some movies that make nearly everyone cry. There are others that are so specialist as to be quite confounding: we know someone who cried at Con Air. Con fucking Air! So not all weepy moments are created equally. We can’t, for example, compare the emotional manipulation in films about the Holocaust to the bittersweet pang of movies about lost love. That’d make us feel shallow. Shallow, and a little dirty.
Instead, here’s a breakdown (pun intended) of the reasons we find ourselves blubbering at the drive-in, the kinds of weepy moments movies throw at you, and the best examples of each tearful genre. Which of them get you howling?
Oh, and it shouldn’t need to be said, but MASSIVE SPOILERS abound. Abandon the element of surprise all ye who enter here.
I’m Crying Because…
… I Have Awesomeness Overload
When good triumphs over evil, when amazing characters make huge sacrifices, when the human spirit triumphs and when enemies become friends. We’re not crying because there’s something in our eye. We’re crying because we’re so damn proud. Go team!
Most Blubbericious Example: The Iron Giant
Adapted from the classic Ted Hughes novel The Iron Man, this beautifully animated and criminally underseen 1999 feature will (s)melt your heart and leave you an emotional wreck. Nine-year-old Hogarth befriends a massive alien robot and reads him Superman comics. When the giant becomes distressed at seeing a robot bad guy in the comic, Hogarth assures him he too can be a hero. The US army attacks Hogarth’s town, believing the giant to be a dangerous weapon, and a nuclear missile is launched in an act of aggressive stupidity. Knowing that the missile will kill his new friend and the people he loves, the iron giant flies into the air to collide with the missile at a safe distance. As he flies towards his doom, he closes his eyes, remembering Hogarth’s words that he can be whoever he wants to be, utters ‘Sooo-per-maaan’… and saves the goddamn world.
This writer doesn’t know a single person who didn’t cry at the end of The Iron Giant.
Also seen in:
Cool Runnings: The slow clap, started by their won-over rival, as our Jamaican underdogs carry their bobsled over the finish line.
The Return Of The King: When Aragorn tells the hobbits ‘My friends, you bow to no one’ and bows to them instead.
Strictly Ballroom: When the stick-in-the-mud officials turn off the music so that Scott and Fran can’t complete their final dance, and Scott’s meek dad leads the slow clap to provide the rhythm they need to do it anyway.
Casablanca: When the patrons of Rick’s Cafe drown out the Nazis’ singing of ‘Die Wacht am Rhein’ with ‘La Marseillaise’. Made all the more awesome by the fact that the tears from the actors were real.
… Death Is So Fucking Sad
It’s the final frontier, the place from which no one returns. There’s nothing quite as gut-wrenching in cinema as the death of a loveable character, especially if the audience is not expecting it. The fact that the character is gone and isn’t coming back is bad enough, but the reactions of those remaining on-screen is what’ll really fuck you up.
Most Blubbericious Example: Bridge To Terabithia
Bridge To Terabithia came with one of the most misleading trailers ever. Hot on the heels of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, its marketing team clearly thought it a good strategy to play up the fantastical elements of the movie. Those who hadn’t read Katherine Paterson’s classic novel had no idea what they were letting themselves in for; Jess of the hard-knock life, who finds a true friend in boho girl Leslie, is torn asunder when she dies in an accident he could have prevented. It’s the aftermath that’s so beautifully told in Bridge; Jess’s guilt, the understanding of the adults around him, and his eventual bestowing of the gift of Terabithia on his adoring little sister. And that incredible performance from The Hunger Games’ Josh Hutcherson.
Also seen in:
Up: Don’t celebrate too soon if you get through the first twenty minutes of Up. You still have to watch Carl going through Ellie’s ‘Stuff I’m Going To Do’ scrapbook, upset because she never got to go on any great adventures… and then realising she’d filled it out with memories of her life with him.
My Girl: Thomas J can’t see without his glasses.
The Neverending Story: Artax dies in The Swamp Of Sadness and there’s nothing Atreyu can to stop it, breaking the hearts of a million ‘80s kids.
Brokeback Mountain: Although the whole story of the love that dare not speak its name is heartbreaking, Ennis finding their shirts entwined in Jack’s room after his death is completely devastating.
Page 2: … That Kid Can Really Act
About the Author
- Read More!
- All Dogs Go To Heaven
- Brokeback Mountain
- Christian Bale
- Cool Runnings
- Home Alone
- Lord of the Rings
- Meryl Streep
- Moulin Rouge
- my girl
- Sophie's Choice
- Stand By Me
- Stephen King
- Strictly Ballroom
- Sympathy For Lady Vengeance
- The Muppets
- The Neverending Story
- The Return of the King
- The Shawshank Redemption
- Toy Story 3
- Will Smith
- World War II