Shannon Watson investigates the weirdest films people have shed a tear to.
Summer Watson (20) – Jaws
When I was about four years old, my grandma let my sister and I watch Jaws. My grandma was (and still is) a huge film fan, so this was a regular occurrence. We’d watch all sorts with her, from The Terminator to The Mask. We loved it.
Now, it’s worth knowing, I was a bit of a crier anyway when I was younger. Some might have described me as oversensitive. But I like to think I was just in touch with my emotions more than others…
We’re near the end of Jaws and this huge, hungry, toothy mother fucker has eaten its way through countless innocent people – literally ripped them apart. But when Chief Brody shoves his scuba tank into its mouth, shoots the tank with a rifle and blow the shark to smithereens, I cried like a baby.
So at this point, my sister is disgusted with me: it needed to die! It would have eaten him too! And through my tears I managed: it didn’t know what it was doing – it was hungry!
My love for ‘bad boy’ sharks was so bad, it started to affect my day-to-day life as a four-year-old – I started to ‘save’ sweets in the pick n mix stand that were shaped like animals. Our family fridge was filled with jelly dolphins and gold bears, something that infuriated everyone else.
It was at this point I realised I was hyper-sensitive to any form of cruelty to animals. Not a crazy thing to be sensitive too, granted. But I was rooting for the animals even when they were the bad guys.
Similarly, I cried when the T-Rex was eventually taken down by the raptors in Jurassic Park. I cried over King Kong after he’d destroyed New York.
Now I can’t watch any films with animals in, just in case. And do you know how many films there are with animals in?
Andrew Watson (51) – Bad Santa
It might not be a cinematic masterpiece, but I find Bad Santa very funny. I suppose that’s why it’s all the more emotional when Billy Bob Thornton’s character, Willie, starts to show signs of being a nice human being.
Determined to get Thurman his beloved fluffy elephant toy, Willie causes complete chaos, included a multi-car police chase. Just as Willie gets to Thurman’s house (fluffy elephant still in one piece), he’s shot multiple times by the police.
As he falls to the floor, Willie manages to crawl far enough to roll the soft toy to the door. And for the only and only time during the film, he’s not thinking about himself. He’s thinking about making a little boy’s Christmas special by getting him the thing he’s asked for.
This scene caught me off guard. Although Willie doesn’t have children, Thurman is the closest he’s got. And as a father, you can relate. When you’ve got kids, you would do anything and risk anything for them – even a police squad. I watch it every Christmas, without fail. Much to the displeasure of my daughters.
Mary Watson* (73) – Harry Brown
*The grandma who let Summer watch Jaws
Harry Brown, although an action/crime film manages to make me well up every time.
It’s not the death of his wife or daughter that gets me crying. It’s the loneliness he feels, it’s the way he and his friend/neighbour have been let down by the system.
And a lot of it is to do with age. We all get older (unfortunately), but Harry Brown is a worryingly real, scary portrayal of how as you get older, you’re considered unimportant, a second-class citizen.
I suppose it makes me upset because I’ve felt similar things to what Harry experiences in the film – but thankfully not as violent. But, as much as it makes me upset, I enjoy watching because it’s a bit of an awareness campaign. It might encourage others to start taking us seriously.
In a way, I think elderly people and young people are in the same boat – we’re not always listened to. And this needs to change.
Matt Edwards (38) – Skyfall
Ok, it’s a death, it’s meant to be sad. But M’s death caught me (and everyone else in the cinema) off guard.
M, played by Judi Dench since her first appearance in Goldeneye in 1995, has been an integral part of the James Bond franchise. Known for her cold put-downs, unflappable leadership and tough love parental discipline with Bond, M seemed to be an evergreen character.
So, fast forward eleven years later to the moment you realise you’re watching her die in James’s arms, I was overcome with unexpected emotion.
I think this is why Skyfall was so brilliant. We’d been introduced to a different style of Bond previously in Casino Royale. This Bond had depth – he got hurt physically, emotionally and mentally. Something audiences really could connect with. So it’s no surprise really that Sam Mendes continued with this theme with Skyfall.
What’s more emotional is we’re rooting for the three (Bond, M and Kincade) to make it and they almost do! Bond and M’s relationship turns into a mother/son scenario and we’re aware that Bond has lost the one person he truly cares for.
Michael Birkinshaw (24) – Ice Age
I’m a primary school teacher, so maybe this has skewed my view a little, but I think the scene in Ice Age when Diego sacrifices himself to save Manfred the mammal is particularly emotional.
It’s a classic example of character development – Diego forms a bond with his new acquaintances and decides to do the right thing. He loses friends in the process, but his conscience kicks in and he realises he can’t lead the gang to his pack of wolves. Instead, he foils the plan and reconsiders his loyalties.
I remember thinking what a big deal that was and how much guts it takes. It’s a great lesson for kids (and adults) to learn: don’t do anything you’re not 100% sure or happy about.
Rosie Ferrer (29) – Lady Bird
Just the thought of Lady Bird makes me well up.
A lot of people I spoke to about this film mentioned how they loved it but weren’t completely sure why. I think it’s because it’s a film about a relationship that subverts the norm. There aren’t many films about a dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship that manages to get it so spot on.
I know it’s spot on because it reminded me very much of my own relationship with my mum. The arguments and battles, the pent-up frustration and anger – I felt as if I’d gone back in time to when I was 14.
Interestingly my mum watched Lady Bird not long after and confessed she felt exactly the same. Greta Gerwig’s depiction of a mother/daughter relationship was so real, raw, ugly and beautiful, my mum and I felt as if the film was about us.
Like Lady Bird and her mum, luckily my mum and I have a much better relationship now. Lots of water under the bridge, family nonetheless.