Sad Movie Scenes

Friday, September 17, 2010 at 4:31 pm

I have a love/hate relationship with sad movie scenes. On one hand, I love a well-crafted tearjerker and the emotions it can bring bubbling to the surface. On the other hand, there’s all the unmanly crying, weeping, and wailing. I really hate that part, especially if there’s anyone else in the room. While some of these sad movie scenes may not trigger a full-blown emotional meltdown, they’re guaranteed to at least elicit a sniffle or two.

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After you’ve finished reading, please don’t forget about our comments section. You’ll no doubt think of some sad movie scenes that I left out, so be sure to remind me.

This article contains plenty of spoilers, so consider yourself warned.

Death of Bambi’s Mother from Bambi (1942) – Walt Disney and his animators obviously wanted to permanently scar generations of children. How else can you explain this gut-wrenching scene from an otherwise gentle animated movie? Little Bambi and his mother are out grazing, when his mom (who’s strangely attractive for an animated doe) suddenly perks up her ears and tells Bambi to run for the thicket. And so the two take off, an occasional gunshot ringing out as they gallop towards safety. When Bambi reaches the thicket, it becomes obvious that his mother isn’t with him…and the realization of what’s happened hits us like a ton of bricks. Bambi wanders through the snow vainly calling out for a mother who’s probably already being skinned and gutted by hunters. I hate you, Walt Disney.

Climactic Montage from Requiem for a Dream (2000) – Equal parts sad and horrific, the nightmarish conclusion to Requiem for a Dream depicts a hellish sequence where the addictions of the main characters come crashing in on their tenuous realities. Sara (Ellen Burstyn) endures electroshock therapy, Harry (Jared Leto) has his infected arm sawed off in a prison hospital, Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) must deal with withdrawal and incarceration at the same time, and Marion (Jennifer Connelly) is forced to participate in wild sex shows to pay for her habit. I defy you to find a more powerful anti-drug message than this one.

Jenny’s Grave from Forrest Gump (1994) – For most of the film, the kind-hearted Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) busies himself with chasing after uber-skank Jenny Curran (Robin Wright). She rejects him every time, but our simple hero just won’t take no for an answer. Jenny finally gives in, but now she’s dying of AIDS and has a young son to dump in Forrest’s lap. Thanks, honey. After she passes away, Forrest goes to her grave and talks to her about their son and how much they both miss her. Hanks’ portrayal of a simpleton in love always manages to push the right buttons, and the scene played out under the tree that he and Jenny used to climb as children will have even grown men blubbering.

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Parting at the Airport from Casablanca (1942) – Despite his cynicism and world-weary demeanor, Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) is one noble bastard. How else can you explain his turning down the hotness that is Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman), a former lover who ran out on him in Paris with no explanation? Turns out Ilsa is married, and her heroic husband (Paul Henreid) needs to escape to America to continue his fight against the Nazis. Rick has two passes out of Casablanca, and he urges Ilsa to accompany her husband, otherwise she would regret it, “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.” Torn apart by circumstance beyond their control, Rick and Ilsa go their separate ways. Well, at least they’ll always have Paris.

Choking the Dog from I Am Legend (2007) – Anyone worth a damn loves dogs. Therefore, anyone worth a damn is going to get at least a little choked up during this sad movie scene. In a desolate future where almost all of humanity has been wiped out or transformed into vampire-like creatures due to a virus, Robert Neville (Will Smith) struggles to survive and find a cure. The only healthy human in New York City, he searches the sprawling metropolis by day and fends off the infected by night. He struggles to maintain his sanity, but it’s becoming more and more difficult. His only companion is Samantha, a female German Shepherd who’s fiercely loyal. But that all comes to an end when Sam is bitten while defending Neville from infected canines. Desperate to save his only friend, Neville takes her back to his lab and injects her with the latest version of his serum. Crumpling to the floor, he cradles her body and sings a song to sooth her. The tender moment is shattered, however, when Sam begins to transform and tries to bite him. Left with no other choice, Neville looks away and strangles his companion. Even cat lovers may get a little choked up.

Death of Old Yeller from Old Yeller – Here’s another slice of misery for dog lovers. Travis Coates (Tommy Kirk) takes a liking to a Lab/Mastiff mutt and names him Old Yeller. Over time, the two become inseparable, and the dog saves young Tommy on a numerous occasions. But when a rabid wolf bites Old Yeller, it becomes obvious what’s about to happen next. The mother brings out a rifle, but Travis tells her, “He’s my dog. I’ll do it.” As he pulls the trigger and subsequently walks off into the night mist, Travis takes a painful step towards manhood.

Neil’s Suicide in Dead Poet’s Society (1989) – When his dickhead father (Kurtwood Smith) orders him to drop out of the school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard) does it anyway. You see, Neil wants to be an actor, but his domineering dad wants him to attend Harvard and become a doctor. The play is a huge success on opening night, but Neil’s dad is furious over his defiance. He informs his son that he’ll be enrolling him in military school, and there will be no more of this acting nonsense. Neil tries so hard to make his father understand, but the older man will have none of it. Neil, emotionally devastated, sits beside an open window wearing the wreath he donned for his role as Puck. Taking a gun from his father’s desk, he brings a beautiful life to a tragic end.

Sharing a Bed from The Notebook (2004) – It was almost a given that one of the many adaptations of a Nicholas Sparks novel would make this list of sad movie scenes. I’ve chosen the final moments from The Notebook, a scene that radiates both sadness and undying romance. As Allie Calhoun (Gene Rowlands) slips deeper into dementia, her loving husband, Noah (James Garner), recounts the story of their passionate romance during the 1940s. This brings her back to him for a while, but soon she’s once again lost in a world where everyone is a stranger. Noah is admitted to the hospital later that evening, and he makes his way to the room occupied by his wife. Climbing into bed with her, they share a moment of tender recognition before falling asleep forever. The overhead shot of the lovers holding hands in death will get to viewers every time.

The Choice from Sophie’s Choice (1982) – Sophie Zawistowski (Meryl Streep) is a woman haunted by her past, but we don’t learn the true depths of her torment until late in the film. Several years prior, the Polish Sophie was arrested by the Nazis and sent with her two children to the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. Since she was a Pole and not a Jew, a Nazi officer gave Sophie the “courtesy” of deciding which one of her children would live and which one would die. Reacting as any mother would, she rejected the opportunity. But when it became clear that she would lose them both if she refused, a broken Sophie chose to spare her son. The choice haunted her every day afterward, and it’ll have the same effect on anyone who endures this harrowing scene.

John Coffey’s Execution from The Green Mile (1999) – John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) is a massive inmate sentenced to the electric chair for the murder and rape of two little white girls. He acts like a child himself, expressing a fear of the dark and often breaking into tears. When he heals a guard’s (Tom Hanks) urinary tract infection and resurrects a squashed mouse, it begins to become clear that he’s not the monster everyone initially thought. Even though he performs a number of other miracles, his date with the executioner still arrives. He declines an offer by the guards to let him escape, saying that he’s tired of all the suffering in the world. So, massive John Coffey is strapped into the electric chair (minus the hood, since he’s scared of the dark) and electrocuted until he’s dead. Sniffle.

These sad movie scenes should have you crying into your Kleenex for quite some time. Netflix carries all the films listed above, and you can click here to become a Netflix member. We do get a commission if you join up, but all proceeds go right back into Only Good Movies.

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This entry was posted on Friday, September 17th, 2010 at 4:31 pm and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Sad Movie Scenes”

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September 18, 2010


I am legend haves a lot of sad scenes.

September 21, 2010


Mufasa’s death in Lion King

February 22, 2011


Maybe in La Vie En Rose, the whole sequence between Edith waking up to find her lover in bed until a few moments later hearing the news that his plane crashed last night.

February 23, 2011


Good call, Fatima. That is a great scene.


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