The aim of films in general is to provoke thought and evoke a feeling, whether it’s happiness, fear, or excitement. However it’s the sad moments which seem to have a long lasting effect and are a true indicator for many as to whether a film was successful or not. Even films like Titanic and Armageddon which have come under a lot of criticism for not being the most authentic pieces of filmmaking, have the sad scene where someone dies in a dramatic way, or sacrifices themselves for the greater good. All these moments, no matter how cheesy they may appear, still have the ability to make even the most jaded film critics shed tears. Here are my top 5.
5. Cast Away
Tom Hanks plays Chuck Noland who returns home after four years of being stranded on an island. His return, however, is a bittersweet one with the news that his wife Kelly (Helen Hunt) has moved on and now has a new family. The scene in which Noland witnesses her new life is definitely one that audiences can empathise with. Both Noland and Kelly realise that although the love they once shared is still there, it is now impossible for them to rekindle what they once had.
I can watch this film once a year and still manage to become teary eyed at the end. The lump-in-your-throat slowly creeps up as Patrick Swayze’s character Sam Wheat finally says goodbye to his girlfriend Molly (Demi Moore), with bright lights all around him seemingly leading him to heaven.
3. Into the Wild
Sean Penn directs the real life story of Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch), who decided to live in the Alaskan wilderness with little food or means to survive. His death is tragic because he ultimately put himself in the situation and could have removed himself from it at any time. Starvation and a poisonous plant are what finally kill McCandless and the picture of the real life McCandless at the end of the film only adds to its poignancy.
2. The Green Mile
Michael Clarke Duncan plays John Coffey, the kind hearted man with a supernatural gift who is wrongly convicted of murder. Although he is on death row, Coffey has proven his innocence to Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) and some of the other correctional officers. Coffey declines Edgecomb’s offer to set him free, therefore ensuring his own death.
1. Terms of Endearment/Beaches/Steel Magnolias
Okay so I am slightly bending the rules here but it was hard deciding between these three classic films from the eighties because they all make me weep. They have all been described as chick flicks, but I am sure that even the toughest of men would have a hard time holding back the tears.
In Steel Magnolias, Julia Roberts plays Shelby who is diabetic and dies from complications that begun after having a baby. Sally Field plays her mother amazingly, and the funeral scene in which she breaks down with such sorrow and disbelief is a classic scene which is both tremendously sad one minute, and then hilarious the next with comic relief from Shirley MacLaine’s character Ouiser.
Beaches stars Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey as best friends who have had a tumultuous friendship, but the tear jerking moment comes when Hershey’s character Hillary is diagnosed with a rare heart condition and dies peacefully on a beach beside her best friend.
Terms of Endearment follows the difficult relationship between Emma (Debra Winger) and her mother Aurora (Shirley MacLaine). Emma is diagnosed with terminal cancer and it is the quick diagnosis and her drastic deterioration that makes her death even more saddening.
Image courtesy of Great Guns and Olly Blackburn