Imaginary Worlds, an amazing fantasy/science fiction podcast, had a recent episode about the deaths of imaginary characters that had really huge effects on us growing up. While of course death scenes are some of the worst to watch, personally, I find that emotional moments between parents and children, or the prelude to a heroic sacrifice, even if it gets fixed, are always the most emotional for me.
In thinking about the scenes in movies that always, always, make me cry, there are the five that make the list every time.
(1) You stay. I go. No following
I mean duh, raise your hand if you were emotionally scarred by The Iron Giant? To this day I cannot even hear the beginning of this scene without crying. It just happens, as soon as the nuke gets launched, and I remember the feeling of sitting in the theaters as a kid feeling myself go from fear for the characters to this deep deep sorrow. When the Robot closes his eyes and says “Superman” it is something that makes me want to weep even typing this. Even knowing that he is alive at the end doesn’t matter. Best Death of Superman movie of all time.
I’ve mentioned before that A Little Princess is my favorite book, and it’s also my favorite movie. The 1995 adaptation of the book by Prisoner of Azkaban director Alfonso Cuarón is different from the original novel in many, many ways, but damn it, it works. Sara, having finally escaped the cruel hands of Ms. Minchen by climbing into the house of her neighbors, finds that her father, who she thought long dead, is there but with amnesia. She embraces him, but he has no idea who she is. She tries to hug him and he pushes her away and keeps her from touching him. As a child, I could think of nothing more painful than your parent not knowing who you are anymore to be dragged away from them and them … letting you go. It ends happily, but it gets me every time because what a painful thing to experience. Also, papa Davos is in it.
(3) Please, please don’t leave me …
I’ve loved the Disney Beauty and the Beast since I first remember seeing it at six and this scene with Beast “dying” and Belle realizing her feelings for him—ugh, it is so good. The voice acting, the animation, the build-up of their romance throughout the entire movie. It all comes together in this perfect moment. We can talk about how the relationship between the two is #problematic, but it is still a perfect scene.
(4) They’re gifts to honor the Fa family.
Yeah, back to back Disney. Mulan always got to me because of all the father/daughter feels it produced, but I think no scene really captured all I’ve ever wanted to hear my dad say to me than when Mulan returns home to see her father after the war. For her to kneel before him as he’s silent, wanting so badly for him to be proud of her even though she disobeyed him and to have him acknowledge that he was always proud of her. Any person with a tough-love parent knows how badly they have craved that moment.
(5) But, I wipe my own ass!
For a long time, it was a badge of honor for me that with the exception of A Little Princess I did not cry in live action movies. Nope. Not me. I was a “big girl.” And then, for some reason, my mother took me to see Big Daddy in 1999 and it became the first live action movie that I remember crying over in the actual movie theater. I was so upset because I did not understand how people could just take kids away from the person who loved them most.
I didn’t understand how Sunny (Adam Sandler’s character) had broken many laws and actually kidnapped the kid; all I knew was that I was watching a child my age be taken away by the person he wanted to be his father. Just like in A Little Princess, it was this fear that adults, with power that you didn’t understand, could rip you away from your loved ones. Even now, whenever I watch this movie it makes me tear up (damn you, Adam Sandler).
Especially when Jullian is trying to compromise and say he’ll stop playing the Kangaroo song and that he’s sorry (full disclosure totally watching this scene and crying over it) and that he wipes his own ass.
Okay, now that I’ve exposed my cheesiness, what are some scenes from movies (death or otherwise) that make you cry every time?
Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!
—The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—
Have a tip we should know? firstname.lastname@example.org