We all like a good cry from time to time and we all cry at certain films, which is one of the many reasons why we love them so much. We all cry at different films as they have different personal meanings for us. Here is my own personal top ten tear jerking moments in cinema and It’s a Wonderful Life, Brief Encounter and The Notebook are nowhere to be seen! I am sure plenty of people will disagree with me as films are personal experiences (well good ones anyway) and if anyone has their own personal scenes that they feel I should have included please suggest away.
1. The Lion King (Roger Allers and Bob Minkoff, 1994) – Mufasa dies.
The first time I saw this scene is a dark moment of my childhood I will never forget. This is pure Shakespearean tragedy in Disney form. Hans Zimmer’s Oscar winning score is playing and Simba is all alone.
2. The Iron Giant (Brad Bird, 1999) – The sacrifice
“Guns kill and you don’t have to be a gun, you are what you choose to be”. The lines spoken by his human friend echo in his mind as the Iron Giant (Vin Diesel), designed to be solely a weapon sacrifices himself to stop a nuclear bomb from completely devastating a town where he discovered and embraced the human emotions of compassion and friendship.
3. Kes (Ken Loach, 1969) – the neck snap
Billy (David Bradley) is a young northern working class boy we can all relate to: bullied, lonely, miserable and struggling to find any happiness or meaning to his life. After befriending and training a Kestrel he finally finds happiness, meaning and companionship in his life. This is all heartbreakingly shattered when his nasty older brother simply snaps its neck.
4. The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont, 1994) – the final scene
This is for me the most perfectly poignant but yet so simple ending to a film that will never ever be bettered. Morgan Freeman walks along the beach and makes eye contact with Tim Robbins. The two smile at each other and approach each other; the camera rises to simply show these two close friends walk towards each other and hug. This for me is pure cinematic perfection and proves that dialogue sometimes is useless. The look these two close friends give each other as well as Thomas Newman’s beautiful score is all we need.
5. Life of Pi (Ang Lee, 2012) – Richard Parker’s ‘goodbye’
We have invested so much time in these two characters and have come to care about both Pi and Richard Parker but are poignantly reminded that Richard Parker is indeed a wild animal with no loyalties. We all want to love him as we have spent so much time with him but the fact he does not look back at Pi before disappearing into the jungle is a harsh but poignant reminder that he is after all a wild animal.
6. Cinema Paradiso (Guiseppe Tornatore, 1988) – The cut kissing scenes montage
This is most effective at the end of the director’s cut and a scene purely about context. As Ennio Morricone’s beautiful and poignant score is cranked up, the images Toto watches sum up perfectly all the emotions we have felt and understood during the narrative. As Toto sits there crying so do we as we contemplate our own lives like he does as all the various emotions hit us at once. It is a reminder how films play an important part of so many of our lives and depicts so well all the experiences of love, loss, happiness and sadness we all experience. The themes of this film are simple and relative, and that is why they are so emotionally effective.
7. Requiem For A Dream (Darren Aronofsky, 2000) – The final scene
A film many remember as horrible to watch, which of course it intentionally is. However within the misery there are many genuinely intimate scenes as our mentally and physically tortured characters struggle to find happiness. The final scene is all in Sarah Goldfarp’s mind and set on the game show that has inadvertently destroyed her entire life. It for me is genuinely poignant and emotional. What we see is the extremely simple things that were her ‘dream’; simply for her beloved son to be happy to tell the world while on the game show. When the two hug and tell each other that they simply love each other and the audience give them a standing ovation it is a poignant reminder that the most important thing to all of us is the love of our family.
8. Homeward Bound (Duwayne Dunham, 1993) – Shadow won’t make it
This one may be solely for animal lovers. When Shadow, the older dog appears too old to make it out of the hole and he tells Chance and Sassy to not wait for him animal lovers and children everywhere cannot help but shed a tear, despite the fact this is a Disney film so we know how it will all actually end.
9. The Last Samurai (Edward Zwick, 2003) – I will miss our conversations
Despite this being a Tom Cruise blockbuster that is extremely Hollywood there is something deeply moving about this scene. We have invested over two hours of our time following these two men who were once enemies and they have become brothers in arms. When Ken Watanabe willingly lets Tom Cruise take his life and Cruise repeats the lines they have said to each other throughout the story we just cannot help ourselves but shed a tear. Hans Zimmer’s sweeping strings are turned up to the max as well just to make sure.
10. Transformers the Movie (Nelson Shin, 1986) – Optimus dies.
This maybe one solely for children of the 80s who were Transformers fans and begs the question did Michael Bay actually ever watch this film? Optimus Prime was everyone’s favourite toy and is a hero and stands up for everything that is right, there is no way he can ever be killed? In a cartoon?!? Yes indeed he can, the fact it was an accident by Hot Rod that allowed Megatron to kill Prime and the cheesy 80s soundtrack playing in the background adds to the tragedy.