À pleurer

It is to weep.

I stumbled across an article that made me giggle. I thought, yep — I bawled like a fool at that movie. And it got me to thinking…you know, I bawl at some point at just about every movie I’ve ever seen. Empathy Overdrive.

Why do I do this to myself? It’s like I can’t help it. I spent most of  Water for Elephants in boo-hoo mode. And you should have seen me during the cloying, sappy The Notebook. I couldn’t breathe through my nose for an hour. And Sophie’s Choice — I don’t even want to talk about it. Cripes — you name the movie and I cried at it. (Well, except maybe The Hangover.)

Even the old classics — The Wizard of Oz, It’s a Wonderful Life — are weepworthy for me. Why do I do this?

I once asked the Thriller (who never cries at anything) how he and I can be watching the same film, and I’ve got the box of Kleenex on my lap while he sits there munching on popcorn, totally oblivious to all the harrowing emotion onscreen. His response was, “It’s not that it doesn’t make me sad, but it’s all just a made-up story.” I realized then that some of us internalize a story, and some of us watch it as a disinterested (not to be confused with uninterested) bystander.

This was brought to bear in a conversation I recently had with the students in my vocal jazz ensemble. One of the boys made the comment, “I get so involved in the [in this case, horror] story, I can’t take it.” I totally agreed. The slash-and-gore isn’t happening to the girl on the screen; it’s happening to me. I guess that’s why I can’t watch most horror films. I totally flip my poop. Same with a sad movie: I’m right there with the people going through it. I remember seeing Ghost in the theater…oh dear, what a mistake.

And it doesn’t stop at movies. I can’t read this without dissolving into weeping foolery. I cry at commercials (remember the Folger’s Coffee ones about soldiers coming home at Christmas? And I can’t even get through the opening frame of this, Lawd). But movies get me the most, because I crawl so far into the story, it’s impossible to extricate myself when things get hairy. I can’t watch Cars with my grandsons without losing it during the scene where James Taylor sings Our Town,” and I’ve seen that movie a hundred times. I’m bawling right now, having researched and played the link. No one seems to need us like they did before…Oy…

OK, so what’s your take on this? Where do you sit on the Weep Scale? I’m off the charts, ferdangsure. What are the saddest movies you’ve ever seen? I’ll bet I could say “Oh yeah!” to more than one of them.

Off to get ready for…sniffy…school.


14 thoughts on “À pleurer

  1. Will

    The ending of American Beauty the first couple of times I saw it. You know it’s coming but the way it’s executed, it’s why it’s part of my top four.

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      I need to see that film again. I watched it when it first came out on video, years ago, and I don’t remember anything about it except it A) had Kevin Spacey in it, and B) it was nominated for Best Picture. Can’t even remember if it won…

  2. Tom Hanks

    I don’t usually ever cry when watching movies but I wouldn’t consider myself disinterested. I guess I feel that if I don’t cry in real life when very sad things happen why should this movie make me cry? …regardless of how sad it might be making me feel.

    There are a few near exceptions:

    Certain moments in Terrence Malick movies …choral high note at the creation of the universe in Tree of Life…ending montage of The New World.

    That song in Toy Story 2 when Jessie the cowgirl is singing about how her owner used to love her.

    Parts of Its A Wonderful Life.

    I can’t think of any others at the moment.

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Heh — I guess I did create a rather prohibitive conditional statement there, didn’t I? “If you don’t bawl at movies, then you don’t internalize stories.” Fallacy, for sure.

      I should have said that my internalization of a tale results in feelings of overwhelming, sweeping, outward emotion for me, whereas others who internalize a story may react otherwise — maybe with introspection, quietude, or some other response.

      I’m just one of those people for whom tears are therapeutic; they help me process situations I watch and cannot do anything about, you know? But not everyone has to react that way in order to care about a story.

  3. Lori

    Wow! Tom Hanks reads your blog? Cool!

    I’m am waaaay up on the weepy scale. Cry at everything. Yep, Cars. Yep, It’s a Wonderful Life. Yep, almost every single Hallmark commercial ever made. Just stick a fork in me around Mother’s Day! Thankfully, I have found a kindred band mom who cries at every dang show with me!

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Of course! Only the upper echelon pass the time here in Finkville. :P

      Sounds like we’re of a kind, you and I! Pathetic! LOL

  4. Skylar

    I’ve never cried during a movie, but for some reason ‘The Voice on the Radio’ (part of the Janie series) brought me to the point where I had to put the book down from crying. Other than that, it’s usually songs that really get me.

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Ugh — especially the penultimate scene, where Johanna visits Beethoven on his death bed…WHOA

  5. Suzanne

    Oh yeah I am right there in the Kleenex box with you! Anything to do with animals or kids…I am a’ boohooin’ all over! It seems to be getting worse as I get older.

    Movies like The Wizard of Oz and It’s a Wonderful Life (or any of the old classic Christmas songs and movies) make me cry not only because the stories are so great but I also weep for nostalgic reasons. Those movies bring me back to my younger days and a wish for things to be as simple as they were then. Sure, my Life Filters have filtered out the difficulties and life most likely wasn’t as simple and happy as I think. Doesn’t matter, I still turn into an emotional piece of wet Kleenex when I am transported back to those times.

    I have stashed away a cassette tape my Dad made for me shortly before he died. It’s instrumental music called Winter. I listened to it for 1 minute 20 years ago and had to turn it off. Haven’t listened to it since but it’s still there, in the cassette holder, waiting for me if I ever want to. :)

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      The tape of your dad…wow, what a gift! I would have trouble getting through that, too.

      And man, do I ever experience those “childhood” moments. Especially at Christmastime, when it smells like “fall” outside, or when I see a movie or TV scene that reminds me of the early 60s/70s. We are just a couple-a saps!! <3

  6. PKPudlin

    Oh, yeah. Fershur. Can’t listen to “Bright Eyes” sung by Art Garfunkle without losing it – nor can I listen to “Most of all, You” (song from ‘Major League’ facripesake) without out getting the sniffles. Never watch horror movies – seeing ‘The Shining’ in a theatre cured me of that. ‘Homeward Bound’ took me a week to recover – it’s awful.

    My take is that artists are the way they are because they feel things on deeper levels than other people. We live where the passion is, with all it’s unpredictability and extreme highs and lows. Not that non-artistic people don’t have passion – but passion is a scary thing and tends to make people uncomfortable, so the tendency is to keep the thermostat at a more moderate level.

    Pass the tissues, please.

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      I agree that artists allow themselves to feel on a more extreme level. How that’s manifested when they can’t use their art is the fun part, you know? If I’m stuck on the sofa or in a theater, there’s only one way for me to react. With others, I suppose it might be more internal.

      Good insight, lady, and Happy Mothers Day!! :-)


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