The MM Top 5 series has become like a well-oiled machine over the past few months and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. To ensure the quality of the series continues I am going to be taking a break from the series to find some new lists for you, my loyal readers. So for now, this will be the last Top 5 until further notice; oh it’s Tearjerkers by the way. Remember to leave a comment and vote in the poll for your voice to be heard.
5. The Land Before Time: Don Bluth, 1988
I always find children’s films to be some of the most upsetting of any put to screen and The Land Before Time is definitely no exception. Released in 1988 to capitalise on the success of hand-drawn Disney cartoons it was one of the most loved animated films of the decade and spawned an unbelievable 12 sequels, though the first was the only one released in cinemas.
Following the adventures of baby dinosaurs Littlefoot, Cera, Petrie, Ducky and Spike, Land Before Time was an emotional tale of their journey to a wondrous ‘Great Valley’ where they could be safe from the dangers of carnivorous dinosaurs and the ever-changing landscape around them.
But why is it a tearjerker? Within the first 20 minutes of the film, Littlefoot’s mother is brutally killed by a Tyrannosaurus Rex leaving the tiny Apatosaurus to fend for himself. Throughout his journey to the Great Valley, he constantly reminisces about his mother and the life he was forced to leave behind. Add to this a moving soundtrack with a song by Diana Ross that could even make those with hearts of steel cry and you have one of the most upsetting and yet uplifting animated films ever.
As a note on the side, the little girl who voiced tiny duck-bill Ducky was tragically killed by her father as she slept in her American home.
I defy any of you reading this to watch The Land Before Time and not shed a tear.
4. The Notebook: Nick Cassavetes, 2004
Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams starred in 2004’s saddest film by a country mile. The Notebook follows the two leading actors as they fall in love in the 1940s and is narrated throughout by an elderly gentleman who is living in the present day.
The film itself received mixed reviews from critics but was a huge success at the global box-office as romantic drama movies always go down exceptionally well with audiences. It wasn’t the film itself which became such a tearjerker, as deep down it was just the usual run of the mill love story, it was the excellent source material on which it was based, the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks, perhaps the king of the tearjerker.
Add to this two brilliant performances from Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams and you have a Romeo & Juliet-esque love story that explores the themes of heartbreak, redemption and true love better than any film I have ever seen.
3. ET – The Extra Terrestrial: Steven Spielberg, 1982
Director Steven Spielberg features twice in this fortnight’s list. Here we have his 1982 blockbuster classic E.T – The Extra Terrestrial; a film which stunned cinemagoers across the world with its amazing special effects, rousing soundtrack and poignant story.
Spielberg really tugged at our heartstrings in a film which has simply become one of the greatest pieces of cinema of all time. E.T the cute little alien lost on Earth after crash-landing brought tears to the eyes of many as he struggled to come to terms with being stranded on a planet which was never meant to home him.
Thankfully he is taken in by Elliot, a lonely little boy and his family, including a very young Drew Barrymore, who learn to love him and teach him the ways of the planet in some hilariously staged sequences including trick or treating at Halloween and of course the moment he is introduced to Barrymore’s Gertie in the garden shed.
Alas, perfection is never meant to be and scientists finally get hold of E.T bringing with it the first of many hugely emotional scenes signalling the climax of the blockbuster. For me, the tears continue as our little alien buddy finally gets to go home, lifts his finger and says ‘I’ll be right here’ as he points to Elliot’s heart.
2. War Horse: Steven Spielberg, 2011
Oh Spielberg, will you ever cease to make your loyal cinema-going fans cry. For now, it seems like the answer will be no as the veteran director showed in 2011 with his adaptation of the play War Horse, a film that will make even those of you who class yourselves as non-animal lovers weep like little babies.
Starring Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, Emily Watson, Tom Hiddlestone and David Thewlis; War Horse was an emotional rollercoaster from the very start, right up until the end credits being to roll.
Focusing on the plight of horses used in World War One, Spielberg introduced audiences to Joey, a beautiful young stallion who is snapped up as a plough horse. Predictably, he is useless and is soon sold off to the army to be used as a trusty steed.
However, it wasn’t just the horses we felt for, there was real emotion invested in the human characters as friends were lost in battle to mustard gas and machine guns. There is one heart-wrenching scene in particular involving two German deserters who are found inside an old windmill that will leave your jaw on the floor in sheer disbelief.
War Horse is not a film to watch if you’re feeling blue, it is pure emotion from beginning to end and just as you think the tissues can go away, in typical Spielberg fashion, there is a finale which is so joyous and happy, your eyes will sting.
Why do you do it to us Mr. Spielberg? Why!?
1. Marley & Me: David Frankel, 2008
I’ll probably get a fair bit of criticism for including so many films which lack investment in their human characters and instead get the tears rolling with animals, but for one reason or another, people are so invested in animals that they often will have you blubbing more than any human character could.
We finish this edition of the MM Top 5 series with Marley & Me, a film directed by David Frankel who is no stranger to the romantic comedy drama as he was also at the helm of the brilliant Devil Wears Prada. With Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson and Alan Arkin on board you would expect nothing more than your usual rom-com, but you’d be so wrong.
Enter Marley, a naughty but adorable Labrador who steals every scene he’s in. The problem with Marley & Me is that you know what is coming, even if you haven’t read the book. We spend as the audience a good 90 minutes learning about his naughty streak and his adorable side and then, right at the end he is cruelly ripped away from us like pets generally are.
For any of you out there who have a dog or owned one previously, Marley & Me is the ultimate no-go area. It is simply too sad, I have tears writing this as I think about the film.
Yet it constantly makes me want to watch it again, because I love seeing how happy animals can make their owners and how the bond between man and dog is truly one of the most beautiful relationships on this planet, and for me it is the biggest tearjerker of all time.
Thanks for reading, please leave comments and vote in our fortnightly poll.
An Honourable Mention:
The Lion King
The Green Mile
P.S. I Love You