Monday, July 3, 2017

Top 3 Saddest Movies

Look guys, I'll be really honest.  I've hit a terrible reading slump that has lasted far too long.  My attention span has gotten very short and I lost all the "reading stamina" we worked on building up in second grade.  So now I have less stamina than seven-year-old-me, and it hurts, it really does.

But, one thing that I am far better at now than seven-year-old-me is analyzing the things I'm reading.

Yeah, maybe seven-year-old-me could read for fifteen whole minutes without completely collapsing into thinking about other things, but seven-year-old-me could never dream of the fun of looking into stories for lessons and themes.

So even though I have no attention span for books right now, I still want to look into stories for themes and lessons because that is half the fun of reading anyway, and it doesn't require me to have a very long attention span.

You know what has lots of stories??


Yes, that's why I've been watching a lot of movies recently.  I need stories that cut to the chase right now to overcome my slump; I will relearn the excitement of looking into stories for lessons and themes and this will in turn cause me to go back to the books that I've been neglecting.

What I'm saying with all of this is that you should brace yourself for lots of movie-related posts in the upcoming days.

Any movie titles you see in bold will probably have spoilers in this post, so watch yourself.

Today I want to talk about the three saddest movies of all time, in my opinion.  These aren't movies that just have really impactful sad parts; these are movies that will have you in a continuous state of tears.  I mean, The Lion King has one of the hardest death scenes for me to watch (being just a bit sarcastic here--just a bit) but it ends so happily that there is no way it would make this list.

Here are a few more honorable mentions.

Les Miserables is a very sad movie with lots of sad events going on, but (and I've argued with my mom about this a lot) I think that deep down it seems to be an uplifting story.

At the end, Fantine comes back to take Jean Valjean to heaven (happy ending) where he meets all the good guys of the film (happy ending round two) and Cosette and Marius end up happily ever after (happy ending round three).

This movie seems to be saying that no matter how terribly things go in life in this world, if you stick to your values and try to be a good person, there is hope that you can have a happy ending too.

If Valjean--who was involved in some miserable circumstances--can make it work, you can too.

This makes you leave the theater feeling pretty upbeat, in my opinion.

The Fiddler on the Roof doesn't have a happy ending like Les Miserables, and in fact it's ending is really extremely sad and probably gets even worse for Tevye and family after the movie is finished (you know, history and all that).

In my opinion, The Fiddler on the Roof is really a very sad movie because of what's really happening behind all the singing and Tevye's humor; the loss of tradition, the expulsion of a people from their land, a family living in poverty, the splitting apart of a family as the daughters go different ways, and all of this against the wider historical backdrop that we know doesn't end well.

The only reason The Fiddler on the Roof didn't quite make the list is because all of this sadness is hidden behind a rather funny exterior with lots of pretty joyful dancing and singing that doesn't really make it a sorrowful movie until the end.

Braveheart is a pretty sad movie because it opens with the rape and death of a pretty likable character, then extends through the deaths of lots of people in the various battles, and finishes with the death and torture of the main character, William Wallace.

Braveheart doesn't make the list for me however because I didn't really like most of the characters, especially William Wallace and it made it hard for me to empathize for him.  Also Braveheart ends on a pretty good note when William Wallace refuses to succumb to the British and yells 'freedom' instead.

At least he was able to preserve his values, and it turns out that Scotland went on to be basically free from England.

The last movie I want to mention is basically number four on this list, but I thought "Top 4 Saddest Movies" was a little dumb sounding, and I couldn't think of a fifth that could really round out the list.

Forrest Gump is a sad, heartbreaking film.  Forrest desperately seeks his childhood friend Jenny who he is in love with, and he ends up engrossed in some huge historical events.

His best friend, Lieutenant Dan, has his legs blown off, Jenny turns out to have psychological problems due to her abusive childhood, she is a drug-addict and a prostitute and when Forrest and Jenny finally reunite, Jenny dies very shortly afterward, leaving Forrest with a child to take care of.

All of this is seen through the eyes of Forrest, a very simple man, who sees things very optimistically.
All you want to do when watching this movie is break through the screen and shake Forrest's shoulders and explain to him what is really happening and how things are not as good as he thinks.

Alright with those honorable mentions covered, here are the actual three saddest movies of all time.

Schindler's List

Image result for schindler's listYou can read my full review of this movie here.  

Schindler's List tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who tries to save as many people from concentration camps as he can by claiming that they are skilled workers he needs to manufacture his products for Germany. 

Of all the movies made about the Holocaust and World War Two, none is as poignant and impactful as Schindler's List.  

I still remember the scene of the children laughing and waving out the train windows as they pass by their parents, and the parents breaking into sobs and chasing after them knowing where the train is headed even though the unsuspecting children don't.

This movie doesn't sugar coat or disguise anything.  The visuals are raw and unrelenting; everything from the Kommandant shooting random people just for target practice to the prisoners being forced to run around naked for inspection is shown in terrible detail.

There has never been a movie like Schindler's List that so fully engrosses the viewer in to the experience of the Holocaust.  Few of us can ever really know what it was like, but this movie is the closest that we've ever gotten in the film world.

Oskar Schindler, the main character, is not in the concentration camp, which is a little different from many World War Two or Holocaust movies.  He stands outside of that experience, a member of the Nazi party himself and well respected businessman.  

Image result for schindler's list children on train

He feels guilty for what is happening and knows deep down that it is wrong.  He channels the feelings of guilt that all humans have for their species which let this sort of thing go on.  

All of us are members of the human race and to some extent, there is an embarrassment associated with having to be related to people who allowed such awful events to go down.  Oskar Schindler really embodies this guilt I think, and it makes the film even more powerful.

Even though Schindler was able to save so many people, his last words at the end of the movie lamenting how he didn't save more and how many more people he could have saved if he had sold his car and used it to buy more people stick very strongly.  

The fact is that yes, Schindler saved some people, but he couldn't save them all.

The only reason that this movie isn't way higher up on the list is because it does have one uplifting line, "he who saves one person saves the world entire".  

At least there is a little hope in the end, and the scene with all the people placing stones on Schindler's grave proves that he did make a big impact in the world.

Image result for schindler's list grave

A Beautiful Mind

Image result for a beautiful mindI watched this movie Saturday night and you can read my full review here.

This movie was extremely, extremely hard to watch.  It was painful to watch really, and I did not enjoy my time spent watching it.  I guess you're not really supposed to enjoy watching it, but it felt like getting punched in the stomach over and over again.

Nonetheless, this movie cut very deep and succeeded at it's goal of being impactful.  

Russel Crowe stars as John Nash, a ridiculously gifted mathematician.  As the film progresses, you learn that certain aspects of what you've seen in the film have not been real, and even certain characters have been entirely fake--the rug is pulled out from under the viewer as it is revealed that these aspects have actually been hallucinations brought about by John Nash's paranoid schizophrenia. 

After the diagnosis, Nash's life slowly falls apart as he loses the career he thought he had, the ability to take care of his wife and child, and even the ability to distinguish real life from his hallucinations.  

He grows violent at times as his visions urge him to stop his wife from trying to put him on medication that will prevent him from doing his "work" (a made-up assignment from the U.S. government where Nash is needed to break a code and save the country from a Soviet missile), and he relapses a few times, causing his wife infinite anguish.

There is one moment where Nash thinks that one of his visions is giving Nash's baby a bath while Nash himself is an another room.  In reality the baby is lying unattended in the bathtub as it quickly fills with water, and Nash's wife gets there only just in time to save the baby.  

It was around that point in the movie where I said to myself, "if anything happens to that gosh dang baby I am not watching the rest of this movie."  I was getting very emotionally exhausted from watching a man's life fall apart.

This movie will have you in steady tears as you see the horrible impact mental illness can have on every aspect of someone's life.

Even though John Nash's condition was almost under control by the end of the film, there are so many other real life people today who are just as scared and confused as John Nash was, and to me, that's what makes this film so hard to watch.

Image result for a beautiful mind baby

The Elephant Man

You know how I just said that I almost stopped watching A Beautiful Mind because I couldn't take it?  Well I actually did stop watching The Elephant Man because it was way to overwhelming for me at the time I first watched it.

The Elephant Man is about a man who is very disfigured and forced to wear a bag over his face.  He is continuously mistreated and misunderstood, and lives like a second rate human being.

There's not much I can say about this movie, other than it makes you feel ashamed for being a human and if you don't sob like a baby during this film you have no soul.  

Image result for the elephant man

I don't cry in movies very often, but these three movies had me in tears almost continuously.  The saddest part about all these movies is that they are all based on real life stories.  All of these things really happened in real life and even when the films' run times are over, there is still that reality.

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