August 1, 2011

Scientists need a super-sad movie to use in various studies...

... and they've been using "The Champ" too long. What are the alternatives?

Uncle Ira, in the comments there, names the movie I would name.

IN THE COMMENTS: Coldstream said:
Curious Professor, if you meant the film "Grave of the Fireflies" which was first mentioned by commenter Zardoz which Uncle Ira appears to be commenting on, or if you actually mean the movie "Zardoz"...the saddest part of that movie is Connery's outfit.
LOL. I meant "Grave of the Fireflies" (which has been listed in my Blogger profile as one of my small collection of favorite movies for many years).

134 comments:

David said...

Brian's Song

Revenant said...

"The Sweet Hereafter" by Atom Egoyan.

traditionalguy said...

Saving Private Ryan, the final scenes.

Lucius said...

Nicholas Ray's "They Live by Night."

Not to be gratuitious but, I hated "The Sweet Hereafter" personally. I was hugely primed to see it for a few years after it came out; but when I did, I thought it was a dreadful put-on.

Synova said...

The trailer to War Horse.

I think it's the music, but I'm total water-works when I'm forced to sit through that thing.

Bob Ellison said...

City Lights

Coldstream said...

Curious Professor, if you meant the film "Grave of the Fireflies" which was first mentioned by commenter Zardoz which Uncle Ira appears to be commenting on, or if you actually mean the movie "Zardoz"...the saddest part of that movie is Connery's outfit.

Fred4Pres said...

If the study involves men, Puppies for Sale. Hands down a film that induces tears in men. Has no effect on women. I have not met a guy who is not visibly moved by it.

Women look at it, blink, and say, "Are you kidding?"

Ann Althouse said...

I think there's a big problem looking for just the "saddest" movie, because a movie is long and tastes vary.

Remember Oscar Wilde's line about a really sad Dickens story: "One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing."

The movie to use in a study would have to be generically excellent and also sad. Some people find really melodramatically sad stories irritating.

The movie "Dancer in the Dark" is mentioned at the link, but a lot of normal people are going to be annoyed to have to sit through that.

Revenant said...

I hated "The Sweet Hereafter" personally.

I hated it too, but I still think it was a very sad movie.

ndmike said...

Old Yeller

Fred4Pres said...

Simon Birch is a bawler movie too. That little guy saving the kids on the bus. It gets me every time.

Lucius said...

Well, in high school nothing did it for me like the climax of "The Godfather Part III."

But now-- sending that hooker-slitting madman Al Neri to save the *Pope*?!?

Shameless . . .

PISSED said...

Meet Joe Black... I bawled...

A. Shmendrik said...

"Godfather Part III", final answer Regis.

Rhodamine said...

The absolute saddest movie I can think of - and it moves along well - AND it was based on a true story! - is "Nobody Knows" by Hirokazu Kore-Eda.

crushing, absolutely crushing

Fred4Pres said...

The bus scene is super sad, but unavailable on line, but this is sad too.

Puppies for Sale (which I think is Jack Lemmon's last film) is crafted by experts to cause men to cry. It is only a 10 minute short, but it is very effective.

mesquito said...

I was going to suggest "Easy Rider" but I forgot about the surprise upbeat ending.

Trooper York said...

The saddest movie ever. "The Way We Were."

Three hours with those two commies Redford and Streisand.

I went to see it on a date. Three hours of my life gone forever.

I wanted to kill myself.

YoungHegelian said...

Old Yeller.

Loyal dog saves family by fighting off wolf. Gets rabies, then gets face blown off with a 12 gauge by his master. That'll teach ya the price of courage and devotion!

I couldn't bear to see this film again as an adult.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The first part of Up.

Lucius said...

Speaking of Jack Lemmon, he has some wonderfully sad moments in Altman's "Short Cuts", which I haven't seen in a long time.

Seriously, even the nun running and crying out "The Pope is dead!" (subtitles) in The Godfather Part III would leave me bawling.

I'm going to have to double-down on sick Sen Geary killed the hooker. Maybe Neri was washing his hands Piltae style, going 'what a sick fuck!'

Ambiguity. Just quit talking Francis. I'll play this hand.

Fred4Pres said...

Trooper, I can top that. A first date seeing Cruising. I thought, an Al Pacino film, it is probably good...NOT.

Although Titus, you would probably like it.

Chip S. said...

For me it's The Pride of the Yankees,, and I hate those pinstriped sons of bitches.

Fred4Pres said...

Up got me too.

Fred4Pres said...

I watched Pride of the Yankees last week. I hate the Yankees but damn if I did not get a bit weepy at the end (even if I have seen it before).

Chip S. said...

That scene where Teresa Wright ties his tie for him kills me.

yashu said...

Captains Courageous (like The Champ, involves the death of a father figure).

Fred4Pres said...

It works better in English...

Scott said...

Oh that's easy. Love Story with Ryan O'Neil and whats-her-face.

Cry because it's so sad.
Cry because it's so bad.
Just cry.

phx said...

I thought Osama was incredibly sad. And Pan's Labyrinth was too.

Toshtu said...

The saddest movie I ever saw was the Lifetime Channel, but Ol' Yeller set the standard.

The saddest moment for me, of any movie, is the little red jacket, in the pile of clothes.

Fred4Pres said...

Ol' Yeller got me as a kid. But it has a vaccine effect and only worked once.

richard said...

"The Wind That Shakes the Barley"

ironrailsironweights said...

Threads. Proof that the British can do post-apocalyptic movies right. Nuclear war, Britain suffers massive destruction, nuclear winter ensues, the population drops to Medieval levels, the survivors are reduced to a bare subsistence existence, and at the very end the faintest glimmer of hope for the future is extinguished.

Oh, best of all, you can watch the whole thing online free and legally.

Peter

Peter

Fred4Pres said...

Yeah that Osama movie was sad... kidding!

The Zardoz comment was very funny. I saw that movie on Netflix a few months ago and thought, this would have been much better if I was really really high.

Scott said...

How about Hurricane with star-crossed lovers Mia Farrow and Dayton Ka'ane. That was pretty sad.

wv: shtchas

E.M. Davis said...

Someone on the Metafilter thread suggested the montage from "Up"

I would agree.

phx said...

Saving Private Ryan was sad but it really set you up for it. And then it doesn't make sense - Pvt. Ryan is the one visiting the cemetary, but then we see through his eyes . . . the Tom Hank's character's memories.

yashu said...

Ozu's Tokyo Story.

A more recent Japanese film, Nobody Knows-- abandoned children, fending for themselves-- devastating.

La Strada. Nights of Cabiria.

Umberto D.

The 400 Blows.

George said...

The end of Stand By Me.

"I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?"

Scott said...

The Red Shoes had an incredibly sad ending.

yashu said...

Elephant Man.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Requiem for a Dream.

As for music, For My Broken Heart was written after Reba's band died in a plane crash, and it's not uplifting to me.

phx said...

I don't think I've heard of Requiem for a Dream.

But is it as sad as Requiem for a Heavyweight? Now that was sad.

yashu said...

Mouchette. Au Hasard Balthazar.

Chip S. said...

@Scott--If you like ballet movies with sad endings, here's one with a melanin-deficient star.

chrisnavin said...

The Lonely Lady, with Pia Zadora.

I felt sad for myself and humanity after watching.

jr565 said...

My life as a dog. Actually the ending isn't really sad, but you just get a sad vibe the whole way through the movie.

phx said...

When Schindler started to think at the end that he could have saved more people if he had tried harder.

F said...

The footage from Obama's inauguration.

Elliott A said...

What kind of scientists are these? I feel the term is being used loosely

E.M. Davis said...

The saddest movie is Requiem for a Shake Weight.

Shanna said...

Old Yeller

Forever and ever. Steel Magnolias is also wins for being a movie with crying and laughing all wrapped together, but that might screw up whatever scientific results you are trying to get from people crying.

Shanna said...

When Schindler started to think at the end that he could have saved more people if he had tried harder.

That is the part that always makes me lose it.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

"The film depicts different forms of addiction, leading to the characters’ imprisonment in a world of delusion and reckless desperation that is subsequently overtaken and devastated by reality.[2]" Wikipedia on RfaD

"Lost in misery, each character curls into a fetal position." Wikipedia On RfaD

ironrailsironweights said...

But is it as sad as Requiem for a Heavyweight? Now that was sad.

Actually, the ending was not at all sad. Mountain Rivera loses the chance to work at the children's camp, that much is true, but keep in mind it was a summer camp, in other words a seasonal job. No guarantees that it would turn into something permanent. His becoming a pro wrestler isn't necessarily a bad thing, as he can earn some decent money, and if you think of pro wrestling as a form of acting it isn't undignified.

Peter

edutcher said...

Try a first date watching, "The Crying Game". You never think of Tammy Wynette in the same way ever again.

But as Pvt Winger said, "Who didn't cry when Ol' Yeller was shot?".

Johanna Lapp said...

Last year's sci-fi shocker, "Never Let Me Go," had me depressed for weeks.

The futility, the meaninglessness, the cold brutality, the easy surrender to inescapable doom.

And the moment when you realize it isn't science fiction at all.

I still have nightmares.

C. Schweitzer said...

Two entries in this category:

• "All Mine to Give": a young boy's parents die and he has to find homes for all of his littler siblings

• "Imitation of Life": when the girl runs after her mother casket yelling for her "Momma" I lose it; having just lost my father a few months ago, I'm tearing up even thinking of the scene

Stephen Snell said...

In Schindler's when Oskar is looking down on the city, and it shows the guy shoot through most of a line of people with his rifle, then the other guy steps to the two survivors at end of line, who put their hands up before the guy shoots them both in the head with a pistol. could watch that once a day and would still get misty every time.

The end of the Joy Luck Club (this is tremedously embarassing).

Stephen Snell said...

joy luck just teary, so strike that.

John Burgess said...

@Fred4Pres:

--The Zardoz comment was very funny. I saw that movie on Netflix a few months ago and thought, this would have been much better if I was really really high.

Honestly, it doesn't help.

Jose_K said...

Lord Jim
The Pride of the Yankees
Saint Élmo´s fire

Class factotum said...

The Color of Paradise. The scene where the little boy cries that nobody loves him because he is blind is heartbreaking. It is the only movie I have ever bought, mostly because I wanted to adopt the kid. It is absolutely gorgeous.

You can't have Old Yeller without pairing it with The Yearling.

E.M. Davis said...

"The film depicts different forms of addiction, leading to the characters’ imprisonment in a world of delusion and reckless desperation that is subsequently overtaken and devastated by reality.[2]" Wikipedia on RfaD

Requiem for a Dream was tragic, but not necessarily sad.

if like Jennifer Connolly and double-ended dildos, it's the movie for you!

fivewheels said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ironrailsironweights said...

The absolutely saddest movie of all time is a little-known documentary entitled The Invention of Women's Razors.

Peter

David said...

Old Yeller.

E.M. Davis said...

The absolutely saddest movie of all time is a little-known documentary entitled The Invention of Women's Razors.

Peter


So you're into hairy legs, then.

David said...

Amisted. I could not stop crying from beginning to end.

FWBuff said...

The scene in "A Little Princess" where Sarah is running away from the girls' school and sees her father, who she thought had been killed in WWI. She calls out to him, "Papa, papa!" but he doesn't recognize her because he's blind and has amnesia. As I type it out, it sounds very maudlin, and I suppose it is. But I saw it with my daughter when she was six, and it nearly tore me apart.

edutcher said...

I try to avoid sad movies, but one I stumbled into was "Basic Instict".

It made me sad Sharon Stone, icepick and all, was out of my reach.

Then I met The Blonde who, even though she had no icepick, still had much more to offer and I was no longer sad.

caplight said...

First twenty minutes of "Up."

William said...

The Elia Kazan film of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Bonus sadness points because it was based on a sad novel that I read and re-read as a kid. I like to see it around Christmas and get to mourn for not only the protagonist's lost childhood but my own as well. The most sublime form of sadness is self pity.

ironrailsironweights said...

Puppies for Sale (which I think is Jack Lemmon's last film) is crafted by experts to cause men to cry. It is only a 10 minute short, but it is very effective.

I just watched it online. It's sappy, but not sad, indeed the ending is quite happy.

It also has a terrific blooper in the form of a continuity error. Just before the end, the boy and the dog cross the street as they leave the pet store, then there's a view of Jack Lemmon looking out the window at them. The final scene shows the street once more, and now there's a big puddle of water in it.

Peter

traditionalguy said...

I thought of that scene in Spielberg's Schindler's list where Schindler wanted to save more from the Nazi Death Camps cranking up to finish the Jews before the war was lost...and that sent me to Spielberg's "thank you" he sent to the men of Saving Private Ryan who were the the men who finally did fight through and save those left.

In that last scene of Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan he reminded us all to earn it.

Bruce said...

Lilya 4-ever
Kashimashi

Allison said...

Requiem for a Dream is the most depressing movie, but I wouldn't call it sad. It's smoke-a-pack-of-cigs depressing. It might even be slit-your-wrists depressing, but it's not sad.

The opening of Up was so sad that I burst into tears and refused to watch the rest--even though I was apparently 1 second away from the movie becoming fun and interesting.

Gallipoli is the saddest movie I can recall.

themightypuck said...

Marley and Me.

My favorite bad first date movie was related to me by a friend of mine who was a legit Berkeley Commie Jew. He bought a Yugo for fuck sake. Anyway he goes on a date with a girl and decides to impress her with Pier Paolo Pasolini and takes her to Salo. Well played.

themightypuck said...

Oh wait. I forgot Bitter Moon which is really sad but also pretty funny.

Fred4Pres said...

ironrailsironweights said...
Puppies for Sale (which I think is Jack Lemmon's last film) is crafted by experts to cause men to cry. It is only a 10 minute short, but it is very effective.

I just watched it online. It's sappy, but not sad, indeed the ending is quite happy.



It is heartening, but happy is not the correct term. But, Link! Link! I have not been able to find it for years.

Fred4Pres said...

"Saint Élmo´s fire"

?

Okay, it is sad on how some careers ended with that film. It is amazing some continued on after it.

Fred4Pres said...

Gallipoli is not a film I think of as sad. It captures the brutal frustration of trying to stop something that ulitimately you cannot stop.

DADvocate said...

The Other Side of the Mountain

Made sadder because it's a true story.

Fred4Pres said...

I felt sad that Augustus died towards the end of Lonesome Dove, but I do not consider that a sad miniseries.

Fred4Pres said...

ironrailsironweights,

Every guy I know who has seen Puppies for Sale got a bit...emotional. Not bawling or anything, but definitely moved.

PJ said...

I remember "Johnny Got His Gun" as a pretty damn super-sad movie.

themightypuck said...

Also Jennifer Connelly has House of Sand and Fog and Requiem for a Dream giving her a decent shot at best sad actress.

themightypuck said...

Emily Watson is good competition for best sad actress.

Life in the Fifties said...

Most heartbreaking in an uplifting way - The prologue of "Up" - but I will watch it again to remember the sweetness.

Most heartbreaking ending - "Chinatown."
I saw it in college, before becoming a parent, and will never watch it again.

ET1492 said...

I offer more support for The Elephant Man. Based on a true story, too. That makes it sadder for me. I saw it first in early childhood and have seen it many times since.

Another movie that really got to me was Herzog's The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, also based on a true story. There's a lot of humor in it, too, so it's not a good movie for the study, but there's a scene where Kaspar holds a baby that gets me close to tears.

Jim Lindgren said...

The most depressing movie I ever saw was "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" Great movie. Incredibly painful to watch.

My favorite 1930s tear-jerker is "Stella Dallas." It makes me cry, but it takes too long to get to the tear-jerking conclusion.

Saint Croix said...

Bang the Drum Slowly is far and away the saddest movie I've ever seen. On repeat viewings, I start crying before I even get to the sad parts.

edutcher said...

themightypuck said...

Oh wait. I forgot Bitter Moon which is really sad but also pretty funny.

No, "Bitter Moon" wasn't sad, it was weird. And, God knows, it was anything but funny.

Unless you like the idea of a nurse saying to a patient, "The good news is you're going to live. The bad news is you're my patient".

Every time I hear the phrase, "An experience for the adventurous movie-goer", I think of "Bitter Moon". And I remember what a sicko Roman Polanski really is.

Eric said...

To Live with Gong Li and Ge You. If you don't cry when the daughter dies there's something wrong with you.

Dad said...

As mentioned several times at the original post, "Dear Zachary." I hardened myself to movies some years back after I realized what a basket case I was becoming, but that one left me gasping for air.

Ann Althouse said...

FWBuff said... "The scene in "A Little Princess" where Sarah is running away from the girls' school and sees her father, who she thought had been killed in WWI. She calls out to him, "Papa, papa!" but he doesn't recognize her because he's blind and has amnesia. As I type it out, it sounds very maudlin, and I suppose it is. But I saw it with my daughter when she was six, and it nearly tore me apart."

I agree! That movie made me cry when I was a kid and a couple times as an adult.

Another one for me is "Wuthering Heights"... with Laurence Olivier. The death scene... and everything thereafter.

Also, if you stick it out and get to the end: "Limelight." (I know a lot of people hate it.)

Justin said...

I've got a friend who to this day refuses to watch Million Dollar Baby again, as it depresses him far too much.

Chuck66 said...

Old Yeller. Try watching that and not crying.

Chuck66 said...

Okay, I see someone else said Old Yeller. How about the first segment of Up?

The part where the old guy holds the balloon at the funeral and then gets up sadly and walks into his house.

Chuck66 said...

Damnit, someone else said the opening of UP before I did. Screw you all.

Mark said...

I cried like a baby at the end of Inception. But then I'm a geek daddy.

Impacted Wisdom Truth said...

The saddest movie? Under The Hawthorn Tree, directed by Zhang Yimou, released in 2010.

Many movies have given me tears, but only Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, and Under The Hawthorn Tree have ever made me actually weep. And Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List actually end positively if you really think about it; Private Ryan is saved, and Schindler's Jews live. Hawthorne Tree left me as a heaving pile of sighs. Not a subtle movie.

Chuck66 said...

Up

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GroDErHIM_0

Jim Lindgren said...

Among the other suggestions, City Lights always gets me, but again, it's really just the ending, which is staggeringly poignant.

Another title already suggested, Johnny Got His Gun, is grimly and intensely sad.

Love Story? Brian's Song? I wasn't moved much by either movie. Loss by itself is not that sad.

Partially self-inflicted loss through sacrifice is what breaks me up. Stella Dallas, City Lights, They Shoot Horses, Johnny Got His Gun, Best Years of Our Lives--those all involve loss because of sacrifice. That's what's really sad (to me at least).

murgatroyd666 said...

There Can Be Only One: "Who saw 'Old Yeller?' Who cried when Old Yeller got shot at the end?"

I had a friend who saw "Love Story" with a date. He made the mistake of laughing out loud at Ali McGraw's big death scene. His date punched him in the face, and some woman he had never seen before started wailin' on his head with her large, heavy handbag.

Fred4Pres said...

This is a very sad movie...

Fred4Pres said...

Sad movie too.

Fred4Pres said...

Very sad too.

Revenant said...

How about the first segment of Up? The part where the old guy holds the balloon at the funeral and then gets up sadly and walks into his house.

That scene, and the scene later when he reads the second half of the photo-diary, are two of the most touching moments in cinema.

Fred4Pres said...

That last one is a New Jersey Ol' Yeller.

A. Shmendrik said...

Fred4Pres:

I think I have the first date movie beat. My first date in HS I go to a triplex theater to see a particular film with a cheerleader/future valedictorian. The movie we intended to see was sold out, and not knowing what to do next (this being my first date) I nervously suggested we see the next film. Which happened to be "The Valachi Papers" with Charles Bronson.

Alex said...

My pick might be "The Fountain".

Death is the Road to Awe

Fred4Pres said...

A. Shmendrik, I tell you what, rewatch The Valachi Papers, then watch Cruising. Trust me, unless you have Titus' taste in film, I've got you beat.

Fred4Pres said...

I did not find the Fountain sad, just boring.

Smilin' Jack said...

OK, another vote for Old Yeller. People always sort of deserve what they get. Dogs don't.

Fred4Pres said...

Smilin Jack I so agree. Check out my 11:13 p.m.

Chip said...

The Elephant Man
Mary and Max
Watership Down
Old Yeller

Those three should work for science, though I personally get choked up every time I see Buffalo 66 -- the scene at the end, when Billy buys the "heart cookie" for Layla.

rhhardin said...

Stanley Cavell asks why operas are always sad

Browndog said...

You know you've set the standard when just the name--seeing the name--of the movie makes you incredibly sad.

Yes, I'm talking about Old Yeller.

Mark said...

The "It was almost Love" scene from Muppet Christmas Carol.

MadisonMan said...

The Little Princess' father was blinded in the Boer War, not WWI. But that scene is a good one, when she is unrecognized by her own Dad.

The movie I have cried the most at? Toy Story 3, at the end.

Charlie said...

"Peggy Sue Got Married"

E.M. Davis said...

Watership Down

Watership is certainly sad, in a brutal kind of way. Saw it when I was about 8 or so, on HBO. Let's just say it wasn't your average animated movie.

FredwinaD said...

Sophie's Choice. I saw it 31 years ago, and it still depresses me. Thank goodness I didn't have kids yet.

Beth said...

My Dog Skip will make the coldest heart cry!!

Crunchy Frog said...

The Phantom Menace

My childhood memories, torn apart before my eyes.

E.M. Davis said...

Crunchy Frog FTW

Jose_K said...

Bambi

Jose_K said...

And I remember what a sicko Roman Polanski really is.
And the main female character was acted by his wife
What remind me of Unreversible. If a 10 minutes rape does not make someone sad...

Michael said...

Umberto D, as I see someone already said.

I start blubbering looking at the case.

Milwaukee said...

What about Dr. Zhivago? Or perhaps Forest Gump? Uri Andreevich Zhivago gets separated from the love of his life, Lara, and they never re-unite, His lover is separated from their child, and they never re-unite. On the other hand, Forest has one difficulty after another. Success leaves him unchanged as Jenny refuses his love, again, and again. Until that is, she is dying of AIDS, and needs to be nurtured to her death. Then she is willing to accept his love. He deserved much better. Too bad their son had to grow up without a mother.

AST said...

Dumbo, or Sophie's Choice.

Or maybe I just have separation issues.