Sad movies not only make me cry, they sometimes make me sob- loudly. Last week I went to see “Fault in Our Stars.” At least by now I have learned not to hold in the tears and try to cry quietly, with a pack of tissues on hand. It was an excellent movie, but the crying made me think of other memorable sad movies I have seen.
“Imitation of Life” 1959. A light-skinned Black girl disowns her mother so she can pass as white. Girl becomes famous, and when mother goes to see her in a club, girl pretends she’s not her mother. When her mother dies, Girl runs after her mother’s hearse crying, “Mama, Mama.” I walked out of the theater , my blouse drenched with tears and still cry if I watch it.
“Brian’s Song” 1971 Perhaps the most tears ever shed in one place at one time was when my kids (Aged 10, 8, and 6) and I watched this acclaimed made-for-TV movie based on the friendship between real life football players Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers and the tender bond they shared as Piccolo died of cancer. We sat looking sideways at one-another as we sniffed, cried, hiccupped, and wiped our eyes.
“Terms of Endearment” 1983 My friend Eileen and I and three of our young adult kids probably would not have chosen to see this movie, now well-known, but it had just opened, and we knew nothing about it. Compounding the discomfort, we sat in the front row, our heads tilted back to see the screen, so once the tears started they actually dripped into my ears. I was biting my hand to keep from sobbing loudly when Eileen, in a choked voice whispered, “Are we having fun yet?” That made me cry even more , and all along the row I could hear sniffing and quiet crying. When we got back to the house, my oldest son, who had stayed home to read, took one look at the five of us , our eyes swollen and red, and asked, “Jeez, what happened? Were you guys in an accident?”
“Mask” 1985 This was a wrenching movie, based on the true story of a boy (Played by Eric Stoltz) born with a rare skull deformity. He was often the victim of pointing, cruelty, and rejection, but his mother (Played by Cher) was determined to give him as normal life as possible. Throughout the story there were many scenes that pulled at my heart strings, but , SPOILER ALERT, I held it together, even past the death until the Mom took the boy’s dog to the cemetery, and the dog hopped down from the truck and ran over to the grave. I had been teary all along but foolishly tried to hold it in. At that point I let out a loud unearthly sound that caused everyone in the theater to turn and look at me. My friend Debby said she’d never go to see a sad movie with me again!
“Marley and Me” 2008 I had already read the book so assured myself that since I knew what was coming, I wouldn’t cry. Of course I did, but at least no one turned to look at me. Maybe I had learned to cry quietly?
You would think that with this history I would just avoid sad movies. But I find them cathartic and am proud that I can feel so deeply, get so involved in a story. You just might not want to go to such a movie with me.
© Dorothy C. Judd
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