Day 04 – 30 Day Movie Challenge

A Movie That Makes You Sad

I don’t watch movies that make me sad. The reason most people watch movies is to escape for a couple of hours from your life. Who wants to escape to a sad alternate reality? On the other hand, there are plenty of movies with sad elements or scenes that make me cry no matter how many times I watch them. Yeah, that’s right I cry at movies. But that sadness is usually part of an ultimate happy ending or uplifting message.

According to this pretty cool study of emotional elicitation, done by the Psychology Department of the University of California at Berkeley, the saddest movie of all time is The Champ (1979). Doing some research for this, I was amazed at how many movies that many consider their saddest movie that I’ve never seen. This is a glaring omission in my film library. Many of these are classics, but knowing they are sad, I can’t bring myself to watch them. I’m talking about movies like Stand By Me, Seven Pounds, Selena, The Color Purple, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Steel Magnolias, Terms of Endearment, Brian’s Song, The Joy Luck Club, Lorenzo’s Oil, Sophie’s Choice, The English Patient, and most notably Schindler’s List. That’s right, I’ve never brought myself to watch more than a few clips from these films. So when thinking about sad movies, my viewing experience is lacking. Maybe I need to have a good crying marathon.

To narrow it down, I thought of 5 sad movies that I had seen. Those 5 were: My Girl, Boy with the Striped Pajamas, Dead Poets Society, A Walk To Remember, and The Green Mile. The saddest movie that I could think of was The Green Mile. At John Coffey’s execution everyone is weeping at seeing something so unjust. Everything from the scene where Paul goes into John’s cell and asks him what he wants him to do is sad. He can’t bear the thought of killing “one of God’s true miracles.” He doesn’t want to stand before God at the judgment and have to answer for why he killed an innocent man. Then as John asks to see a movie, he sits amazed at the beauty that he is beholding. At the execution I have to stop myself from sobbing out loud. Even the ending when we see Paul as an old man grieving over the loss of a friend saying that this is his punishment killing John Coffey. For those that think Stephen King is only a horror author, this film is the answer to that.

What is a movie that makes you sad? What are your top 5 sad movies? Are there any sad movies that I absolutely must see? Should my film buff card be taken away for not seeing Schindler’s List? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter and Facebook.

6 thoughts on “Day 04 – 30 Day Movie Challenge”

  1. You can keep your film buff card — I haven’t seen Schindler’s List either. While I don’t doubt its greatness, I’m also not eager for such an emotionally draining, heartbreaking experience…and I’m not sure I need it. Doesn’t mean I’ll never watch it, but I won’t be worried if I don’t, even as I respect what I’ve heard of it.

    I’ve seen much of The Green Mile and can readily believe what you say about it. My Girl is also a huge tear-jerker, although it ends with hope and healing. Kind of like Bridge to Terabithia (2003), which actually got tears from me. But my saddest film of all? Hm…not sure. I’d be tempted to say Pan’s Labyrinth, but its ending defies simple happy/sad emotions. Spartacus is pretty sad by the end, as is Lawrence of Arabia. Hmm…I’ll have to think about this some more.

    1. I do think that this was the most difficult of the daily challenges simply because I’m not a sad person. I like being happy and even movies that some people find sad, I tend to find a happy message in them. I really considered My Girl for this one because it may have been the first movie that deeply confronted me with death.

  2. You can keep your film buff card — I haven’t seen Schindler’s List either. While I don’t doubt its greatness, I’m also not eager for such an emotionally draining, heartbreaking experience…and I’m not sure I need it. Doesn’t mean I’ll never watch it, but I won’t be worried if I don’t, even as I respect what I’ve heard of it.

    I’ve seen much of The Green Mile and can readily believe what you say about it. My Girl is also a huge tear-jerker, although it ends with hope and healing. Kind of like Bridge to Terabithia (2003), which actually got tears from me. But my saddest film of all? Hm…not sure. I’d be tempted to say Pan’s Labyrinth, but its ending defies simple happy/sad emotions. Spartacus is pretty sad by the end, as is Lawrence of Arabia. Hmm…I’ll have to think about this some more.

    1. I do think that this was the most difficult of the daily challenges simply because I’m not a sad person. I like being happy and even movies that some people find sad, I tend to find a happy message in them. I really considered My Girl for this one because it may have been the first movie that deeply confronted me with death.

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