No Tears Formula

I’ve seen the “what movie scenes make you cry?” meme at both Feministe and Roxanne’s.

Maybe I’m just one cold-hearted SOB, because I can hardly name any movies that get my waterworks going. I can come up with a long list of movies that didn’t:

Maybe it’s just that I can’t suspend my disbelief and shut off that voice in my head that keeps saying “it’s just a movie.” Maybe it’s something deeper than that. For a long period of my life I couldn’t cry, even if I wanted to. And then I wouldn’t cry, even if I needed to, for fear that I wouldn’t be able to stop. I think it might have been a way of protecting myself.

It’s only in the last few years — maybe the last five — that the damn finally broke. Becoming a parent tore down some of the wall around my emotions in that sense. There are some things I can’t watch without getting emotional now; some news stories I can’t take, the ones where children are harmed.

But I still can only come up with one movie in recent memory that brought me to tears: Fahrenheit 9/11. During the segments with the mom who lost her son in Iraq, when she was reading his last letter and again when she was standing in front of the White House asking “Why?”, I lost it. Just sobbed. I know that was part of the director’s formula. Well, I fell for it. He got me.

The only other movie I can think of that came close to doing that to me was It’s My Party. The final scenes were just too much, especially for anyone who’s lost someone to AIDS. In a similar vein, the final scene in Longtime Companion, where all the people suddenly appear walking up the beach to join the main characters for a reunion. And then they vanish. That one would probably break me up today. And if I let it.

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About Terrance

Black. Gay. Father. Buddhist. Vegetarian. Liberal.
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5 Responses to No Tears Formula

  1. moonbatty says:

    I can’t cry at movies easily, either. "But it’s not _real_" I’ll insist. Even if it does reflect a reality.

    The only one that ever really brought about tears was "Wit" with Emma Thompson. Even that might have just been because I was overtired. 🙂

    And I have no trouble crying. It’s just that it’s a MOVIE. Jeez.

    So… you’re not alone. 🙂

  2. Tom says:

    The effect a movie will have on me is highly conditioned on how much my personal life has been softened up by blizzards of stress and unhappiness.

    I remember tearing up at the end of The Color Purple. I doubt that would happen if I saw it again.

  3. Steve S says:

    I’ve never seen Beaches, Terms of Endearment, Steel Magnolias or Color Purple, I actually tend to not be drawn to these types of movies, but I am a sobber and cry at just about anything.

    Benji and Old Yeller make me sob. So does that old 70’s song Shannon, about the dog swept out to sea.

    Even Extreme Makeover, Home Addition, when Ty Pennington gives some needy family a new home can bring me to tears.

    Bent, the gay movie, where the two prisoners of Nazi’s couldn’t touch or look at each other, so just talked each other through a sexual encounter had me in tears.

    The ending of A.I. had me in tears, as did Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun when the boy was reunited with his mother (one of my favorite movies of all time). Come to think of it, I cried at E.T. but I was so young then.

  4. Tim Who? says:

    Like Steve I’m not drawn to tearjerkers. Though I did see Terms of Endearment and The Color Purple, neither of which made me cry.

    There are movies, or more correctly, scenes in movies that due to the personal nature of the scene and how it relates to my life can cause me to tear up. Your comments about watching someone die from AIDS on screen after having been a part of it all and loosing too many friends is spot on. That’s a little too close to home and a little to personal not to have some effect.

    There is a movie that I thought was brilliantly made and a masterpiece of film making but I haven’t been able to watch a second time because the emotional impact from the first viewing was too much. I can’t even remember if I cried or not.

    The movie was Schindler’s list.

    I can’t even begin to imagine the impact on those families whose lives were directly effected by the Holocaust.

  5. neilemac says:

    The biggest tear jerker I’ve witnessed should have been the flick which awarded Sean Penn an Oscar [which he eventually won for ‘Mystic River], "I Am Sam!"
    Before that, let me see; oh yes, "Old Yeller" when I was a child, "Madame X" as a teenager, and of course, "The Color Purple" as an adult, until I saw, as I said, "I Am Sam!"  [Just read some horrid reviews while googling it; those reviewers must be heartless.] namasté

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