A few weeks back, I finally got around to seeing the film "Gravity." Now, I’m a big grump about the whole concept of 3D films because on the whole thus far, I’ve found the 3D effects to be tacky and irritating (I’m looking at you, "Great Gatsby." Having Nick Carraway’s written words float out of the screen? Beyond pointless). Plus the glasses always squeeze my head, which detracts from the whole "escaping into another world" thing that’s the whole reason most people go to the cinema in the first place. Does anyone else find that? Or do I just have a massive head?
Anyway, "Gravity" was a bit of a revelation. It was the first film I’ve seen in 3D in which the effects actually felt appropriate and enhanced the film. I was so terrified at being hurtled around space from the comfort of my cinema seat that I completely forgot about the fact that the arms of my 3D glasses were slowly, yet surely boring their way into my skull. I left the cinema feeling trembly and exhilarated like I’d actually been hanging out with Sandra and George on that spaceship. It’s a great film –- if you haven’t seen it yet, you should definitely try and hunt down a cinema where it’s still playing and get ready to grin and bear those stupid tiny glasses.
However, "Gravity" isn’t just notable for being the first decent 3D blockbuster. The film also has the honour of having successfully reduced me to a blubbering wreck. By halfway in, I was seriously grateful for my 3D glasses, which were doing a grand job of hiding the fact that crying my eyes out in public. Seriously, what with the goggle-like design of the glasses, it felt like my entire eye area was submerged in tears. I was a mess.
Oh, big deal, I hear you say. I cried this morning at a funny news story about a kitten with one leg that needs wheels to get around, I cry at films all the time. ALL THE TIME. But I’m not like you. I NEVER cry at films. I am the proud owner of a genuine, certified heart of stone. When I go to see a weepy film, I’m always the one person in my row sitting impassively whilst my fellow cinema-goers sob their hearts out around me.
It’s not that I don’t often feel sad or affected by films. It’s just that those feelings don’t physically manifest themselves in the form of tears. Unfortunately this does make me look pretty heartless a lot of the time. I went to see the film "Bright Star" (about Keats and his tragic romance with Fanny Brawne) with a couple of friends when it came out a few years back. We all know the Keats story doesn’t have a happy ending, what with him dying at 25, and the film was indeed very, very sad.
But when the lights came up at the end and I was confronted by my two pink-faced, puffy-eyed, sniffling friends, I realised I hadn’t so much as welled up.
“That was so sad!” hiccupped one of my friends.
“Yeah...I guess” I shrugged as we headed for the exit, already thinking about what I might have for dinner.
Then there’s the time my housemates and I went to see "One Day," when we all had a Friday off work/school. We were all very hungover, having made the most of the serendipitous day off, and all in a weakened emotional state. We got McDonalds before the film and a pizza afterwards, with some sweets in between. But despite the jolly hangover vibes of pain and despair, I again remained a tear-free zone throughout the film.
“How could you not cry!” cried my pink-faced, puffy-eyed, sniffling flatmates.
“I was sad!” I protested. “Just not THAT sad”.
So, there you have it, I’m an unfeeling robot when faced with films that reduce most grown women to tragic sobs. Indeed, many of my friends love having an excuse to let go of tension by having a good old cry to a classic tearjerker, and that makes perfect sense to me. I wish I could let go as easily as they can.
However, like "Gravity," there are a couple of films out there that have been known to make me blub and I can count them all on one hand. What strikes me most about my list is that it’s so random. Whether or not I bestow the honour of my very rare tears on a film has little indication of its quality. Some things just set me off, often for bizarre reasons.
*Spoiler warning. I may reveal crucial plot details of the following movies. If you haven’t seen the films and really don’t want to know what happens, maybe stop reading now. Thanks, it’s been fun!
Now, "Gravity" does have a few big tearjerking features, particularly Sandra Bullock’s character Dr Ryan Stone’s tragic backstory which we come to learn as the film progresses. However, that alone wasn’t what pushed me over the edge. I think the main reason Gravity had the effect that it did is that going into space is pretty much my worst nightmare. Seriously, I don’t care how beautiful the views are, why on earth would you willingly travel to somewhere where there’s no air? (Same goes for scuba diving). I was so terrified from the get go by the idea that I might one day end up in some kind of terrible mix-up in which I have to try and fix a spaceship during a meteor storm, it’s no wonder I started crying with fear.
"What’s Eating Gilbert Grape"
I saw this film for the first time when I was about ten and all I really remember from seeing it that first time is that I thought Johnny Depp was the most handsome man I’d ever seen up until that point and that when they set fire to the house at the end, I had to subtly leave the room to have a secret cry in the bathroom. Sadly, it wasn’t able to work it’s magic on me when I saw it again years later, though it is undeniably the zenith of Johnny Depp’s powers. Something about that brown jacket and weird orange dye job.
"The Little Princess"
This was the first film that ever made me cry. I haven’t seen it since I was a kid so no idea if it works on adults but for children I think it’s physically impossible not to bawl at some point during The Little Princess. I was taken to see this with my sister and our best friends by our friends’ mum back when it came out and it quickly got out of control with howling children. I managed to hold in my tears for most of the film, but when Sarah was finally reunited with her "Daddy," I realised resistance was futile.
"The Pokemon Movie"
I’m deadly serious. "The Pokemon Movie" had a strange and powerful effect on me, reducing me to baffling and somewhat shameful tears. Upon analysis, I think it was seeing so many cute cartoon animals (or whatever the hell it was that Pokemon were) crying their hearts out when the main character Ash gets turned to stone by an evil cat. There’s something about cartoon characters crying that I find deeply affecting, more so than seeing real people cry. Make what you will of that. But it all works out OK in the end, as the Pokemon’s tears bring Ash back to life. Yay.
And that’s it! Seeing as I just saw "Gravity," it’ll probably be another 10 years or so before I find another film to add to my list. I think a large part of my inability to cry at the cinema might be feeling self-conscious with other people around. But I also have come to realise film as a medium just isn’t able to touch me in the same way as music or books. I’ve unexpectedly welled up in the street many a time because a poignant song has popped up on my iPod, or sniffled over a sad book (I finished "A Farewell To Arms" when I was on the tube. V. embarrassing). The cinema just doesn’t do it for me. Until someone makes a film combining space, tragic orphans, weeping Pokemon and a young Johnny Depp.
Are you a cinema-crier? What weird films set you off?