10 Movie Scenes to Make a Grown Man Cry
There aren’t a great of movies that are known for making men spring an eye-leak. As a reflection of our society it’s not socially acceptable for men to express such raw emotion so it’s a challenging task for a director to take on. There are some movies that shamelessly try to wring tears from men and women alike, such as Marley and Me, but it’s not often that a scene really pulls the heartstrings of the blokes in the audience. And now, in the most manly manner I can muster, here are the 10 best.
**It goes without saying that many of these scenes occur at key points in the movies, so there’s plenty of spoilers. Read at your own risk.**
#10 – “In Case I Don’t See You…Good Afternoon, Good Evening and Good Night.”
Every guy enjoys a true underdog story, and few stories feature an underdog quite like Truman Burbank. The entire world that he grew up in was a complete fabrication with an army of people working together to construct an imaginary life for him. Truman was manipulated into fearing water as a method of keeping him oppressed, and it’s this obstacle he must overcome after pulling back the curtain. The director of his life throws everything he has to force him to turn back but he perseveres and learns just how fake his world is.
It’s a soul crushing image, seeing Truman hurling himself against the facade of a horizon in an attempt to break free. Eventually he finds his way out and is about to take a step to freedom when his ‘creator’ gives him an impassioned plea to stop. For a moment it looks like, after battling his fears, a tsunami and all logic, he will turn back…but instead he has one final sign-off.
#9 – Alex’s Funeral
Funerals are one type of scene that are often overplayed in cinema. It’s an easy thing to do – you’re showing the funeral because you want to evoke a particular emotion from the viewer but many directors forget how powerful a subtle performance can be. This is perfectly demonstrated in the opening sequence of The Big Chill when a group of college friends reunite in adulthood after one of their group commits suicide. Simple interactions between the cast set up the sombre tone, but it’s Kevin Kline’s eulogy that makes the scene work. Tucking away his prepared speech in order to speak from the heart he talks simply about his love for his friend before his voice cracks and he can’t go on.
Without knowing anything about the character in the coffin or even seeing his face the responses from his friends is all we need to understand what he meant to people and how his death has affected them. Focusing more on the expressions on the characters faces rather than a heavy handed poetry reading makes this the most effected funeral scene in cinema. And just when things are getting a bit too sad, we get a rendition of ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ to break the tension. Brilliant.
#8 – “Time to Die.”
Blade Runner has come to be regarded as classic, and one of the most thought provoking sci-fi films to come out of the Hollywood market. On the surface the plot is pretty straight forward: a group of rogue androids have arrived on Earth and Deckard – a Blade Runner – must hunt them done and exterminate them. After dispatching of the first three he’s left in a confrontation with Roy Batty, the immaculate leader of the group. Large, fast and powerful Deckard is little match for Roy as the android effortlessly tears about an apartment building. Throughout the fight Roy never puts his full strength into it and they finish with Deckard hanging off the skyscraper.
At the last moment Roy relents and pulls Deckard to safety. Instead of continuing the fight Roy talks openly about the remarkable things he has seen over his life, and how, with the knowledge that his pre-programmed death is seconds away, those memories are going to wash away like ‘tears in the rain’. It’s a pretty hokey monologue on the page but the atmosphere, the delivery and the music make it memorable.
#7 – Marriage of Figaro
The Shawshank Redemption could easily fill out this list all by its self, from Brooks’ suicide to the discovery of Andy’s tunnel. If you’ve got to pick one give fair consideration to this tiny act of defiance from Andy. Upon discovering a collection of records among the library donations Andy finds a recording of the ‘Marriage of Figaro’. Seizing the moment he bars the door and switches on the PA system, flooding the prison complex with the music.
Andy’s defiance of the Warden is worth noting on it’s own, being one of the few moments where he does take a stand against his oppressors. What tips the scene into this list, however, is the slow panning shots of the prisoners and gaurds alike caught up in the music, each one disappearing into their own memories and forgetting about the bleak world they’ve been trapped in. In a movie about a life without hope this is a poignant and special moment.
#6 – “Fly, You Fools!”
Frodo had dreamed of adventure while living in sleepy Hobbiton. Growing up with his Uncle Bilbo’s tales of trolls and mountains he longed to have an adventure of his own, and when the wizard Gandalf sent him on a quest with his friends he cheerfully took to the road. He soon learns his mission had more weighing on it than he could have ever imagined, yet he remained strong in the face of overwhelming odds. It’s only when his guide and moral compass Gandalf falls at the hands of the demonic Balrog that he finds himself lost in the wilderness.
During the immediate aftermath of Gandalf’s death the Fellowship crumbles into grief. Even the placid and usually calm Legolas is at a loss in dealing with what has just happened. As Aragorn rallies them to move on he spots Frodo wandering aimlessly away and calls out to him. When he turns his face is an image of devastation, a true moment of lost innocence.
#5 – Seeing the Ocean
Nine movies on this list are well known and most likely seen by our readers at one point or another. The tenth film is the German Knock’n on Heaven’s Door. Being released in the late 90s it was one of many movies influenced by Pulp Fiction, but with much more heart. Two men – Martin and Rudi – spend the day bumping into each other on trains and in shops until they finally wind up sharing a hospital room together, having both learned that their time is running out. One with a brain tumor and the other with late stage cancer in his bone marrow. As they contemplate their fate a crucifix drops of the wall and reveals a bottle of tequila which the two consume while reflecting on their regrets. When Rudi reveals that he never saw the ocean Martin tells him that it’s all they talk about in heaven, and they’ll be left out. Stealing a car from the parking lot the two drunken men, facing death, head off to see the ocean.
Unfortunately the car they stole belonged to a pair of gangsters who want the items in the trunk back. Without anything left to lose Martin and Rudi take to robbing banks to fund their final voyage and before long have both the gangsters and the police on their tails. After a series of events that I won’t spoil here the two, having raced against their own mortality, finally reach their goal. As they sit and gaze over the waves at a gathering dusk Martin keels over and for the first time Rudi makes no effort to help him.
#4 – “I’M Spartacus!”
Under the guiding hand of a young Stanley Kubrick Spartacus stretches out to a substantial running time during which we see the slaves tormented under their Roman masters before, taking the lead from Spartacus, taking a stand and forming an army themselves. Their struggles are nothing short of epic as they take on the forces of the mightiest empire of the age at their own game and give them a run for their money. Eventually the battles reach a fever pitch and the Romans crush the slave rebellion.
This brings us to one of the final scenes in the movie, which shows Spartacus among his soldiers who had survived the massacre. The Roman’s intend to make an example of the rebel leader but do not know what he looks like. Under threat of crucifixion they demand that Spartacus give himself up. Spartacus stands and declares himself…as do two of his colleagues. Then a third and a fourth. Before long all the slaves are claiming to be Spartacus. Although they face a long and excruciating death that could be avoided by pointing the finger, each and every one stand by their brother in arms rather than throw one of their own to the hounds.
#3 – “Sup…er…man.”
Man…this movie. An absolutely fantastic piece of cinema that builds a realistic friendship between a young boy and a building sized amnesiac killing machine from another planet. When the Iron Giant arrives on Earth his memory as been erased but through his kinship with Hogarth he begins to understand the world. From reading comics he learns the difference between good and evil and strives to become a hero like Superman rather than the evil giant robots that Superman fights.
Tragedy strikes when the Iron Giant’s memory starts to seep back, leading to uncontrolled violent attacks. When the US military become aware of the threat of the giant they move in to attack and through a series of unfortunate events a nuclear warhead winds up en route to the small town. The Iron Giant gives Hogarth a heart-breaking farewell before taking to the skies to detonate the warhead himself, with his final word describing the one thing he wanted to be: a hero.
#2 – “It’s OK…Captain Hammer Will Save Us.”
It wouldn’t be a list written by geeks without this scene from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog. When you come down to it, Billy is an easily relatable character. He’s the shy, self-doubting guy with big ideas. He’s always wanted to be a respected super-villain and a member of the Evil League of Evil, but doesn’t quite have it in him to be fully evil. In reality he’s a gentle soul who was pushed to nefarious ways after being bullied, and more than anything else he just wants the courage to speak to Penny at the laundromat.
Ironically it’s during one of his heists that he finally connects with Penny…and indadvertedly sends her into the arms of his arch-rival, Captain Hammer. Billy finds himself friend-zoned while Penny dates Capt. Hammer, but it’s clear to the viewers how easily things could’ve gone the other way. In an envious rage Billy dons the persona of Dr. Horrible and sets out to kill Captain Hammer but a moment of doubt turns the tables and Dr. Horrible’s death ray explodes into metal shards. When Billy turns to find Penny he sees her slumped against the wall having been impaled by the flying debris. As he tries to help she comforts him with her dying breath by telling him that Captain Hammer will save them.
And every geek cried.
#1 – “You Killed My Father…Prepare to Die.”
The Princess Bride is not a movie that is known for packing much of a punch, but there’s one scene in particular that resonates strongly no matter how many times you re-watch it. Early on in this fantasy classic we meet the Spanish swashbuckler Inigo Montoya, who has spent his life training in sword-fighting so that he may exact vengeance on the six-fingered man who murdered his father. He searches the land with the goal of finding the elusive fiend and saying to him “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
The quest had not been going well, and Inigo Montoya had fallen into despair and alcoholism. Through the efforts of the Dread Pirate Roberts Inigo does come face to face with his lifelong foe. After giving his ultimatum the six-finger man turns tail and runs away. Comical at first, but when Inigo does catch up he is struck by a knife in the gut. Initially it seemed as though he was to die without satisfaction but sheer anger drives him forward. Bit by bit he picks up speed until he’s got the six-fingered man cornered and gives him a chance to bargain for his life. After giving him a shred of hope Inigo thrusts the sword into his chest and spits “I want my father back, you son of a bitch.”
What lends this scene it’s power in the intensity that actor Mandy Patankin puts into the scene. Having tirelessly trained in sword fighting to perform the fight himself his blistering energy sets the screen on fire. The final line is delivered with such passion and venom it often take viewers off guard, and with good reason. Patankin had lost his father the year before to cancer, and in the scene he poured all of his grief into his dialogue. The feeling of lose and anger is completely genuine. It also helps that Count Rueben, the six-fingered man, is completely despicable.