Picture the scene:
You’re engrossed in something of high creative quality. The writers/director/actors/composer (or a combination of all) are ruthlessly tugging on your heart strings, manipulating you into feeling whatever it is they need you to feel. The lump forms in your throat, your eyes prickle with unshed tears. You blink rapidly, hoping fervently that none of your companions notice. Unless, of course, you’re alone. In that case you can feel free to dissolve into ugly sobs. Whatever the circumstances are, we’ve all been there.
Personally, I’m more likely to have a cry at these times than I am when real life throws me curve-balls. I’m not entirely sure why this is; perhaps I’m more susceptible to pre-programmed and contrived emotional scenarios. Whatever the reason, I have decided to compile a shortlist of all the moments when my Ice Queen facade melted, and my stone heart shattered temporarily into a squillion pieces. /melodramatic
CAUTION: Spoilers ahead.
The Independence Day Speech
The blockbuster hit Independence Day gave us many things. Evil tentacly aliens, Will Smith pew pewing and smoking cigars, Jewish tropes, crazy-eyed scientist Data and Jeff Goldblum’s reinvention of the common cold. For me though, I will remember it for President Awesome’s rousing speech to the rag-tag troops. Before sending them on a probable suicide mission he rallies, telling them that they will not go quietly into the night, they will not vanish without a fight. There the little twelve year old me sat in the cinema, tears streaming down my face, fighting the urge to stand up and yell “GOD BLESS AMERICA!” And I’m not even American.
X-Men: Professor X’s Last Stand
Professor X’s death scene in X-Men: The Last Stand had a very physical as well as emotional effect on me. I remember sitting forward in my seat, my fists clenched, heart beating rapidly with shock and adrenaline. I knew that his death in this way wasn’t strictly canon, but I just could not fathom the end of one of my favourite characters. Not only was he a fav of mine, but I absolutely adore Patrick Stewart too and I believe that was why it had the power to illicit such a reaction from me. His last line, and his look to Logan, rendered me completely unable to concentrate on the rest of the movie, and distracted me for days. I wanted Jean Grey to die. Slowly and painfully. I always hated Phoenix.
Battlestar Galactica – Daybreak with Adama & Roslin
The ending of BSG was always going to be an emotional one for me. The series holds a special place in my heart, and more than once throughout I fell victim to lump-in-throat syndrome, helped along of course by the well-chosen compositions from Bear McCreary. Despite this, I cried only once during Daybreak Part 2. The death of legendary Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) and the reminder of the subtle, yet oh so poignant relationship she had shared with Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos), proved to be way too many feels for me to handle.
The Lion King – MUFASA!
No Top Tear-Jerking Moments list is complete without The Lion King. I’m pretty sure Mufasa’s death heralded my very first cinematic-induced ugly blubbering session. It was just awful. Mufasa leaps in to save Simba from death by stampede and is then betrayed by his brother, Scar. Not only does the treacherous lion murderise his bro, but he tells Simba that it was all his fault too and this propels the young cub into exile.
I Am Legend – Play It Again, Sam
I really enjoyed I Am Legend. I think it must have been very difficult to be the only human male on-screen for 90% of the movie, with nobody but a dog, and I believe Will Smith pulled it off well. But who are we kidding, dog lovers everywhere know that it was the German Shepherd, Samantha, who was the star of this flick. What is it about a dog’s touching and poignant death that feels so much like an arrow to the heart ? In this case, Sam was her master’s only constant companion throughout. She was noble, fearless and the kind of best friend we’d all want in such a situation. Sam saved her master, and in the end, she had to die by his hand, bringing on the realisation that he was now completely, and totally, alone. T’would bring a tear to a glass eye, so it would.
Mass Effect 3 – It Could Only Be Mordin
As I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of Mass Effect. Not so much ME3 but for all of its negatives, it surely did have some tear-jerking moments of epic proportions. And if you’ve played the game and made certain choices you know exactly what moment I’m referring to; Mordin’s sacrifice. I watched with a sense of inevitable horror as Mordin ran to save the future of the Krogan race, to undo what he had done in his past. Because someone else might have gotten it wrong…
Honourable mention to Grunt’s battle scene after the mission to save the Rachni queen. I was crying with dismay before he took the fall off that ledge, and crying with relief when he emerged from the cavern, all beaten-up and nonchalant, Grunt-style. Damn you, Mass Effect, why must you toy with my emotions so? *shakes fist*
Futurama – I Will Wait For You
In probably the saddest moment in cartoon memory for me, Futurama tells us the story of Seymour, a little dog that Fry had befriended. They were the bestest of buds before Fry was accidentally frozen. Believing that Fry would be back, Seymour waited outside Panucci’s until the day he died, loyal to the end, always hoping that his master would return. Possibly the most needlessly cruel bit of animation I have ever seen, and I’ll never forgive Futurama for it.
Million Dollar Baby – A chuisle mo chroí
In Maggie’s last scene with Frankie she is told the meaning behind “Mo Chuisle” and that she’s going to go to sleep, and stay asleep. It is essentially a goodbye scene as Frankie reconciles himself to giving his protégé peace. I cried the first time I saw this scene, and the second time, almost two years later. It was unfortunate that the second time I was watching it with three blokes, who teased me mercilessly over my tears, but I didn’t care. It is a marvelous scene, a marvelous story, truly an Oscar-winning performance from Swank, and the film that confirmed for millions that Mr. Eastwood was a formidable force behind the camera as well as in front of it.
Star Trek: The Next Generation – THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS
In “Chain of Command”, a season six episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Jean-Luc Picard is captured by the Cardassians. He is tortured in an attempt to mentally break him. One method of torture applied is to show Picard four lights. He is asked how many lights there are. When he answers honestly that there are four, he is electrocuted and told there are five. Picard refuses to concede and the torture continues.
This episode had a very profound effect on me, and so began my love affair with Patrick Stewart. He was amazing in it, and every step of the way I could feel his resistance to being broken. There was a particularly poignant moment at the end when he confides in the counselor that he had actually begun to see five lights. I learned about the fragility of the human mind, about the strength of Picard’s, and just how distressing it was for me to see the Captain in such a diminished state.
What an awesome episode that was.
Honourable and sad mentions go to Forrest Gump (blubbed a couple of times during that), the Armageddon Speech (who didn’t? Though the initial effect wore off pretty quickly), Wash’s death in Serenity (one of the quickest and most shocking – “I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I…” *dies*), Joyce Summer’s death in Buffy (and Anya’s heart-breaking confusion) and Eddard “Ned” Stark’s death in Game of Thrones (from both the TV program and the book, but to be fair if I were to list all of the many times I’ve cried while reading a book, we’d be here all night).
In a weird way I enjoyed compiling this list, and I have decided a re-watch of some of the entries is definitely in order. That’s my entertainment sorted for the next few days! What do you think? What was your top Tear-Jerking Moment?