Movies that reduced me to tears

Every so often someone poses this question on Twitter: What movie makes you cry every time? I was going to reply, but I’d need to create a thread to capture all of them. I am very weepy when it comes to movies and TV shows. Books, too, but the focus here is the screen.

ET the Extraterrestrial (1982). This was the first movie I recall seeing in the theater that resulted in a contained ugly cry. The scene in question is, of course, the end, when ET is saying good bye to everyone. I was SO proud of my tween self for holding in the tears as we exited the theater and annoyed when my brother made fun of me for almost crying. He grew up to vote for Trump, so it makes sense now.

A Little Romance (1979). The story of young romance in France and Italy, with the help from an old con man played by Laurence Olivier. This was also Diane Lane’s first film, I think, and her costar was a kid named Thelonius Bernard who I don’t think was in any other movies after this. Again, it’s the end that did me in, as Diane Lane’s character, Lauren, is going back to the US and has to say goodbye to her young love as well as their old friend. In fact, I think the latter goodbye was harder for me to watch (about 50 million times thanks to HBO’s early programming habits). But there’s earlier cry competition in a romantic scene involving the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, which is the culmination of the movie’s plot.

Watership Down (1978). Rabbits living and dying violently, also courtesy of 1980s-era HBO. Hazel’s death at the end, when the black rabbit finally comes for him, is the clincher, though there are lots of other scenes that make this extra-weepy. I have literally not seen this movie in decades and I’m not going out of my way to do it again.

Richard Adams wrote another book that was turned into an animated movie, Plague Dogs, which I have also never seen. I read a plot synopsis of it that put me in a fugue for days.

Gallipoli (1981). Two talented runners turned into WWI soldiers. One (played by Mel Gibson) put to the impossible task of getting back to the battlefront to tell the commanding officers to not send soldiers out to fight, the other one of those soldiers who runs into battle at top speed, only to die. The soundtrack doesn’t help.

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009). This movie, about a dog who waits for his owner at a train station for YEARS after the man died, has plenty of weepy moments, but the worst for me is when Hachi dreams of his owner coming back to him on some trail where I guess they used to play together. Because it got me thinking about what pets dream about, and what pets who have been put in shelters dream about, and… You see where I’m going with this, right? There’s a sculpture of Hachi and his owner at a nearby pet cemetery that I can see whenever I’m driving by, and it never fails to make me verklempt.

Life Is Beautiful (1997). It’s a move about a concentration camp, which by itself is tragic. But the scene that made me lose it is in the beginning, when Roberto Benigini’s character is telling his son that he is hiding as a GAME. And explaining all of the dangers in silly kid ways to keep his son from losing it. This, to me, is an amazing dad move and therefore, cry-worthy.

Steel Magnolias (1989). I know, it’s a “chick flick” and has weepy scenes baked into it. But the scene that always does me in is immediately after Shelby dies, and M’Lynn is driving in the early morning light with one mission: to see her grandson, who is Shelby’s child. Her grief is so fresh, and her embrace of the baby as he toddles out to her so real. *sob*

Forrest Gump (1994). I first saw this in a drive-in movie theater but was sucked in the entire time. My saddest scene from this one isn’t Bubba dying, or Forrest crying when he learns his son isn’t challenged like he is, or when he’s talking to Jenny at her grave in the end. It’s when Jenny finds out that Forrest is going to Vietnam, after he rescues her from her musical/stripper debut as Bobbi Dylan. She yells at him for his gallantry until he mentions that he’s leaving, and her face just drops. This is her best friend, who isn’t the smartest person on the planet, going off to be in a war that it’s entirely possible he’ll never come back from. And she offers him advice that’s a theme throughout the movie: to flee instead of fight. There’s something so hopeless and real and protective in Jenny’s take. It doesn’t help that my dad’s a Vietnam Vet, or that my mom’s first husband died there.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012). It’s kind of predictable that the end, which is literally THE END OF THE WORLD, would bring me to tears. But in this case, it’s two people lying on a bed looking into each other’s eyes, with a small dog present, talking to each other as vague threatening noises and rumbling occur in the background. It’s scary and sad, and even though people pan the rest of the movie, this scene makes me think.

This one also gets me for making me think of real-world examples. Think of the people in Hawaii not very long ago who thought that missiles were about to turn them into dust one Saturday morning. They were sending texts to people with their final wishes/messages until it was revealed that it was a false alarm – a mistake. If this happened to me, and it was not a mistake, the place I’d want to be is home with my dog and cat. And I’d probably be stuck at work, instead.

I AM LEGEND (2007): The dog. Enough said.

Love, Actually (2003): I have a lot of issues with the overall treatment of women in this movie, but I’ll rage watch it because other parts are kind of fun. There’s the one scene that kills me every time: When Emma Thompson’s character opens her Christmas gift from her husband and finds a Joni Mitchell CD instead of the heart pendant she saw/thought was hers. She realized he gave that SOMEONE that pendant…just not her. And sadder still because she heads into the bedroom to collect herself/hide her grief from her family because she’s that kind of person. Doesn’t want to ruin her kids’ Christmas day. And it made me feel bad for Joni Mitchell, too. Alan Rickman’s character in that movie was a shit.

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003). “You bow to no one.”

Well, that and the boat that Frodo hops on at the end, leaving Sam to the Shire. Christ.

Game of Thrones, ep. 5, season 6 (2016). This is the episode when Hodor dies, and the sequence of events immediately leading to it is bad enough (Summer! The Children of the Forest!) to make this poor stable boy turned Bran carrier’s death devastating. Adding to it are the scenes of young Hodor having a episode in the Winterfell courtyard, with Bran watching, and realizing that “Hodor” has all along been saying “Hold the door!” which is the action that leads to his demise while Meera drags Bran away from the wights in the giant tree. This was not just an ugly cry that lasted for maybe a half an hour, but one of those that has the hiccuping post-sobs that lasted another half hour afterwards. Probably the worst death for me in the entire series, with Shireen Baratheon’s a close second (the toy horse…). I know the last season is going to put me in a home.

What movie makes you cry?

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