Boo’s class have been reading Ted Hughes’ The Iron Man. ‘Not to be confused with the film,’ the teacher warned. So Boo told me off when I suggested we watch The Iron Giant. To prove my point (i.e. the teacher was referring to Tony Stark in a robot costume not minor violations* from the story arc by the 1999 animated adaptation – *I would guess, I’ve not actually read the book) I bought The Iron Giant from HMV.
‘Aw, great film,’ the cashier enthused (possibly as a result of his customer training). ‘You’re going to cry though.’
‘Err, yeah. Without a shadow of doubt.’
But then I am the sort of woman who cries at the SMA ‘You’re doing great’ advert.
At bedtime we put the DVD on. An hour and a half later I was crying like a baby.
Oh my God, robot – you’re slaying me!
So, The Iron Giant is up there with the saddest kids films ever…which is probably pretty much comparable to the list of all time saddest films ever, except for the addition of Beaches. But which other films make my shortlist? Well, I’m glad you ask. (BTW, the order I list them in is the chronological order in which they first killed me.)
The first time I remember crying at a film. Everything I watched up to that point had had a happy ending and yet there E.T. was breaking my heart. I felt as though I was the only one wiping away my tears as the credits rolled. It turned out my family was just heartless. Seriously, how did they not cry?!?!
Charlotte’s Web (1973)
As a ‘treat’ we got to watch Charlotte’s Web one morning at primary school. The whole school in the assembly hall, sat on the hard floor, our crossed legs going numb as we watched Charlotte save Wilbur’s bacon…and then die! And then hundreds of baby spiders hatching out and being adorable. Who thought that was a good idea?!?! It’s bad enough welling up in the isolating darkness of a cinema, but in the barely dimmed gloom surrounded by 200 other kids, well it’s not good!
Mind you, it neither stopped me from eating bacon or freaking out at spiders, so maybe I wasn’t all that traumatised. I do still have an aversion to movie projections in school assembly halls though.
Watership Down (1978)
Arent talking cartoon bunnies meant to be cute and fluffy? So, it was a huge shock that the film was so brutal and scary and did I mention brutal? And then it made my eyes wet. I never want to watch it again.
My Girl (1991)
Oh my God. They killed Thomas!
The Lion King (1994)
I first saw this as a teenager, in the cinema, with friends. I was sat next to the boy I fancied. Trying to be cool I stifled the tears as Simba vainly tried to nudge his dad back to life before curling up in his paws.
I was never all that bothered by Dumbo as a child. It didn’t feature a princess, the bit where Dumbo has the drunk dream was a bit scary-crazy and bullying is never nice. Really it wouldn’t have really registered as a film of note…until I saw it as a parent.
And there Mrs Jumbo was, caged and separated from her son, but still rocking him with her trunk and singing Baby Mine whilst all the other mums cuddled up to their little ones and my heart splintered into a million pieces.
PS. Whilst searching for the above image I also came across the next picture. Damn you, Internet, my heart just broke again.
Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
Not a film to watch when pregnant. I blame my hormones for the uncontrolled crying over our post-cinema meal and the hour-long journey home. I’m not sure what Teflon Man’s excuse was!
I’ve only watched it the once. I’m scared that if I see it again I’ll not be able to stop crying again. But I’m also scared that it won’t have the same impact and the memory of those tears will be spoiled. Which is a shame as I did really love the film.
Or maybe I could just watch the start and then Leslie won’t die. Yes, that’s what I’ll do – I’ll save her by not watching the second half. Leslie needs to live forever.
Five minutes of gut-wrenching feels. Thanks, Pixar. I cried here:
Toy Story 3 (2010)
Say no more. If you didn’t cry at least once* during this then your heart’s made of stone and I’m not sure why you’ve even read this far when you and I clearly have nothing in common.
*I cried several times, obviously. The incinerator scene was only the tip of the iceberg really.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010)
Over the course of the Harry Potter franchise many many characters died. Dumbledore’s funeral left me in floods, the death toll after the big battle in Deathly Hallows Part 2 was harrowing (although possibly not as harrowing as the steamy Harry/Hermione scene hallucinated by Ron in the woods in Part 1 – ick!). But the death that left me reeling the most was that of Dobby.
It’s par for the course for Disney to kill of a parent (although I guess the narrative of traditional fairy tales has a bit to do with that). But increasingly they’ve been going in for total patricide (see Tarzan, Cinderella and Big Hero 6 for further proof, although I guess Snow White, Peter Pan and Mowgli set an early precedent for parentless main characters – Fantasyland would really be more appropriately named as The Orphanage, to be honest). So maybe I should have seen it coming, I should have been prepared. But nope – because despite our experiences we’re conditioned to believe that Disney equates to fluffiness and songs and happily ever after, forgetting that there can only be light if there was once darkness. And so it comes like a sucker punch every time. So I didn’t expect the ship to sink. I didn’t expect the king and queen would die. Like everyone around me, I was floored by the scene with Anna and Elsa say either side of the door, both helplessly lost and grief-ridden.
But surely you’d have to have a heart of ice not to be.
Disney again showing that they’re the experts in packing the grief into 2 hours of kids’ entertainment. Take one perfect, beautiful, loving family…and then KILL THEM OFF!!!
So, boom, Mummy goes…and I cry. Then dad…and I cry. Then the king…and I cry. And then I cry at the happy ever after end, just for good measure. I was emotionally wrung out by the time stepped out into the light of the afternoon.
It’s half term next week and I’ve sort of suggested a trip to the cinema to Boo and Noodles to off-set the agony of shopping. Except now I’m scared. Life is being enough of an emotional wreck at the minute, I’m not sure I can handle cinematic stresses on top. The Moomins should be a safe bet though right? Nothing happens to the Moomins, surely!
Please let nothing bad happen to the Moomins, otherwise I can’t be held responsible for my reaction. If there’s a tsunami of tears reported across Norfolk next week at least you’ll know why. Could somebody pass the Kleenex?