BBC - Mark Kermode's film blog

« Previous | Main | Next »

The Tracks of Your Tears

Post categories:

Mark Kermode | 17:00 UK time, Friday, 20 January 2012

When I asked you to tell me about the films that make you cry and why I never expected such a huge response. Here I pick out some of the most eye-watering examples...

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructionsIf you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit Mark's blog to view the video.


Related Posts on Kermode Uncut
Review: W.E.
The Worst Ten Films of 2011

Mark's reviews on 5 live
Take your pick from Mark's A-Z

Hear Mark Kermode review the week's new films every Friday from 2pm on BBC Radio 5 live. Kermode & Mayo's Film Review is also available as a free podcast to download and keep.



  • Comment number 1.

    Aw man I wish i'd seen this and left a comment! I'll put it here. I cry at alot of films but one or two films stand out.

    The Incredibles, the scene where when he thinks his family has died and the one MR Incredible explains to his wife why he wants to fight alone really hit get me. That feeling of fear that your family might be hurt because of you is a big fear.

    Also the Bill Douglas Trilogy for the selfish reason of also comming from Newcraighall and that doubles the impact from me.

  • Comment number 2.

    i can't believe no one mentioned - Where the wild things are - i pretty much spent the entire film crying - and i was a 30 year old man - it was the first time i had cried since The Green Mile which i guess was also too obvious for everyone to mention.

  • Comment number 3.

    Mark, separate to this post, people on the YouTube channel are complaining that (like myself) they can't view some of your videos because YouTube has blocked their country (America, Sweden, Italy to name a few). I don't think there's anything you can do about it due to copyright rules but maybe it's worth explaining somewhere as people are taking it personally.

  • Comment number 4.

    I did not leave a comment on the previous video but I agree wholeheartedly with what's be said about Grave of the Fireflies. The other film that made me cry was The Passion of Joan of Arc, and for me both of these films share a similar trait - their protagonists are fighting and resisting against what's in the end an inevitable fate, but in this struggle, death is almost turned upside down, it's not so much tragic as it is liberating and a statement, be it because of joining with the parted ones to watch eternally over the country that was born out of their struggle, or because of fulfilling a martyr's journey. In the latter, the scene where Antonin Artaud questions her is a moment that hits me like few others.

  • Comment number 5.

    Oh Mark how could you - my 7 year old daughter was in the same room when you sprang that plot spoiler about Father Christmas....

  • Comment number 6.


    Tell your daughter I'm incredibly sorry for lying on this blog about there being no Santa Claus; of course there's a Father Christmas, NASA proves it :)

  • Comment number 7.

    I meant to comment on the other thread, but I'm kept busy with exams in college! But, since it wasn't mentioned by you in this post, I have to add this here. The movie that absolutly gets me crying like the Niagara Falls every time is:


    All of that tenderness that the mother long neck as with her child and then the death scene and the scenes in which Little Foot is alone and couping... Man! It gets to me...
    I believe its because I too am an only child, and as a child kind of a loner, with a very strong and open parental relationship with both my parents, and I imagine myself in that situation... very young, with no one in the world, having just lost the person or persons I most care about. It breaks me.
    Now, I hadn't seen it for a while, since childhood, but when the post that originated this one came out, I when and saw it... the waters broke, dear Dr! Cheers and thanks for that! Its a perfect way to release tension!

  • Comment number 8.

    Oh come on!

    "Daddy. My daddy."

    Nuff said?

  • Comment number 9.

    I didn't do this at the time, but for me, Ang Lee gets me twice: Brokeback, hugging the shirt, but perhaps more profoundly in The Ice Storm - massively under-rated - when the one character with the most (or indeed anything) to live for dies, and his friend arrives home and un-wittingly smiles at his dad. The music, expressions and mood are perfect. [Not to mention the stunning cast of Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood and Kevin Kline...]

  • Comment number 10.

    The Phoebe Cates speech in Gremlins?? No!!
    1. it is a clunky downer and a bit of a buzzkill to the tone of the rest of the film
    2. it was written by Chris Columbus
    3. Gremlins II wisely parodied this scene by having Phoebe begin to tell a similar tale of how her family cannot celebrate Lincoln's Birthday

    ... well, if you cried, you cried, can't argue with that....

    I was actually touched, not to crying level, by this feedback blog. The depth of affection the respondents have for the films that have affected them (whether I personally agree or not), and the enthusiasm with which our host Dr. K has poured over them is genuinely sweet. A great reminder of why we bother watching films, and congregating in both real and virtual societies, not merely to bitch about formats, remakes, whether it's about spies, etc. but because we share a reverence for the power of a well made movie.

  • Comment number 11.

    Dr K, would you consider doing a pt 2 of this? I really liked this one.

  • Comment number 12.

    Aw damn I missed this one too! Aside from the obvious ones like E.T. and Gladiator, also the end of Return of the King gets me every time. But a more recent one that had me crying my heart out (which doesn't happen often and when it does it's normally just a couple of tears) was The Road. I finished the book one day and cried my eyes out then decided to go and buy the film the same day. I cried my eyes out again at the end and couldn't stop. I think it tapped into a fear of losing my own father and I haven't been able to watch it again since.

  • Comment number 13.

    I almost never cry at films. But one scene which did have me crying with a kind of joy was...Howard Beale's "mad as hell" speech in Network.

    With apologies to HowardBealeGoneMad.

  • Comment number 14.

    Mark. The film that 'destroyed' me was Schindlers List. Not only for the obvious girl with the red jacket scenes, but the bit that really got me was when the story was finished and we saw the actors walk to schindlers grave with the holicaust survivors and lay a stone at the grave. I'm still not sure why but it really affected me.

  • Comment number 15.

    Dr Kermode...the 'Affair to Remember/ Dirty Dozen' scene is not in When Harry Met Sally but Sleepless in Seattle!

  • Comment number 16.

    I watched The Royal Tenenbaums last night and It might me cry, mainly due to Gene Hackman's performance. Is that weird?

  • Comment number 17.

    I know this is late, but I can't believe the Doc didn't mention E.T - both the death and the ending.

    Also, if you're going to get upset at A.I, it's got to be when she leaves him in the woods.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hachi: A Dog's Tale, the film about Hachiko, suprised it hasn't been mentioned!! I’ve just seen War Horse at my local Picturehouse in Southampton, very emotional at times but I didn't cry. Interesting thing is I love horses and I love dogs, just that one film strikes a chord while the other not so much so. Incidentally I thought War Horse was a great film but not a masterpiece, just classic [family-orientated] Spielberg. Having lived in Devon as a kid and now living in the New Forest (or Narnia lol) the movie did strike a chord, loved it.

    However with ‘Hachi’ I just bawled and bawled, and people I know have done the same (like me NOT knowing about the story beforehand)… in fact I’d say my eyes were wet for about two thirds of that film. The film is well worth mentioning Mark, Lasse Hallström must’ve just pressed all the right buttons, perhaps it’s just me but it’s a very moving film, anyone agree?

  • Comment number 19.

    I don't cry at films (and hardly ever in real life). But the other night when re-watching it, the end of 'Patch Adams' made me feel like crying - where he gets his qualification before the board.

  • Comment number 20.

    I commented on you tube, but seeing as you tube does not allow some of your videos to be viewed Mark, I'll come here instead from now on. I bawl when I watch the couple of sceens in A Beautiful Mind. The sceen where Nash is told he is being considered for the Nobel Prize and then the sceen shortly after that, where Nash's fellow professors hand their pens to him as a sign of respect. By the time Crowe says 'that was most unexpected', tears will be streaming down my face! The final scene of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's nest is another one. Oh and of course, the 'I am Spartacus' Sceen in Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus.

  • Comment number 21.

    I would just quickly like to say that you can add me to the list of the people crying throughoutduring Grave of the Fireflies.

    @Mark OGorman

    The ending to Schindler's List left a really foul taste in my mouth in just how deliberately maudlin and mawkish it is. Completely tacked on just to get the tears flowing. Considering he was on the radio show recently and discussing honest tears it seems really poor to be coming from the man who had that scene in his film. It was about as intellectually and emotionally tactful as Uwe Boll sticking in documentry footage discussing the holocaust with dim teenagers.

    A film that really gets me is the modern Illusionist, the little note on the card at the end gets me misty-eyed the couple of times I've seen it. The film itself is so charming and well-paced that the ending feels natural and if we are to discuss earned tears this certainly was one to do that for me.

  • Comment number 22.

    I`ll say it. Shelley Winters, nuff said

  • Comment number 23.

    Great responses there, wholly agree with Grave Of The Fireflies' inclusion, as it has me in convulsive tears every time. Also, Anvil! The Story Of Anvil, a film that has a special place in my heart and won Best Film of 2009 in my annual film awards (, has me in tears and hysterics with equal measure. However, while I am in tears during that scene, the Phoebe Cates speech in Gremlins bursts my gut through uncontrollable laughter. Excellent posts by everyone, keep up the good work, Doctor!

  • Comment number 24.

    'Happy as a Sandbag'?? Sandboy surely

  • Comment number 25.

    When the Wind Blows - basic, but beautiful animation. The naivety of the old couple in the face of impending nuclear war, combined with their deep undying love for each other gets me every time. The ending is very moving, but also the day dream sequence that Hilda experiences moments before the bomb

  • Comment number 26.

    The scene where Bill Murray is trying to stop the homeless man dying in Groundhog Day always gets me.

  • Comment number 27.

    Some very good comments read out there but seriously - Bladerunner? Really? Bladerunner??? I find it hard to believe that anyone could cry watching that film. Reeks a bit of 'I can't think of anything to name so I'll name something cool'.

  • Comment number 28.

    My girlfriend and I were asked to leave a movie theatre once because our rather loud crying was ruining the film for the other patrons. We would have been about 12 years old at the time and the film was Camelot starring Richard Harris. I doubt it would affect me the same 40 years on.

  • Comment number 29.

    Just read the coment about Hachi. My three grand-daughters have nominated that as "the saddest movie ever made". They get teary if you just mention the film.

  • Comment number 30.

    All I have to do is play the Cat Stevens song "Trouble" to remember, in its entirety, the final scene of Harold and Maude. It is handy for those times when a good cry feels like a relief.

  • Comment number 31.

    Re: Mr Tweed , Schindlers List.
    Fair point, each to their own, but a bit harsh I think to suggest the end was deliberately maudlin and mawkish. There are a lot of people who can’t find the line between reality and fiction for example the people who think the likes of Apollo 18 and Fargo are real stories (beggars belief I know), but scarier than that there are people who deny the holocaust was real. I think this scene was put in to drive home the fact these people are real and these events did happen. (yes with a bit of artistic licence as all ‘factual’ films do)

    On Grave of the fireflies, I havnt seen it but with the comments posted sounds like I’m missing out, must give it a go. cheers

  • Comment number 32.

    I'm late so I'll be quick, the movies where on first viewing I cried a huge amount:

    1. Slingblade- the last scene between the boy and Billy Bob Thornton. The purity and selflessness of the love evoked killed me, and I was a mess.

    2. In the Name of the Father- I was only 19 and left the movie in floods of tears, I think knowing the story was true affected me.

    3. Dumbo - mother elephant and Dumbo touching by trunks, while she is locked up. After watching as a little kid, I blocked out the memory as too sad, and didn't watch it again for a long time without feeling kind of a childish dread that there was something unsafe about the movie. I dare anyone not to well up watching that scene.

    It probably goes without saying that I did well up in tears in the first 10 minutes of Up and the last 10 minutes of Brokeback Mountain, I'm sure I'm not the only one.

    Good topic Mark!

  • Comment number 33.

    Hi, just wanted to say thanks to Dr K for giving me and my boyfriend's comment a mention (Dean_MUFC). I am now trying to persuade him to watch Bambi for the first time after Mark's wise words. 'Sad' was a bit of an understatement coming from me!

  • Comment number 34.

    This is an obscure one from the seventies. Baxter! (directed by Lionel Jeffries, IMDB tt0069770) about a boy with a speech defect. Its the bit where he writes a name on the wall. I only saw it on TV but it made me cry. Strangely in looking for the name online I came across a mention of the same scene on a noticeboard. It seems to be based on a book called The Boy Who Could Make Himself Disappear.

  • Comment number 35.

    Hearts in Atlantis and The Elephant Man get me blubbing every time. Don't really know what it is about Hopkins but he can ooze sentimentality without the schmaltz very well, and it just gets me every time.

  • Comment number 36.

    Seriously ... you need to know that THE quintessential tear-jerker movie for boomers in America is 'Old Yeller' ... a Disney live action movie from 1957.

  • Comment number 37.

    Magnolia, The Kid By Chaplin... Schindler`s List, Wall E, 21 Grams, Los Amantes del circulo Polar, Offret (tarkovski)...
    in a side note i want to thank you, Dr Kermode for talking about Helen (i just saw it) I know your podcast and and your blog since early this year, and i `been catching up with The Kermode Awards, and the top 10 or 5 or 11 from each year and watching them (the movies) and its been a pleasure, i had never seen Kill List, or Chico & Rita or Helen were it not for you.
    Greetings from Valparaiso, Chile

  • Comment number 38.

    The Bridges of Madison County, the scene towards the end of the film when Francesca is sitting with her husband in their truck, at the traffic lights, the rain is pouring down, they are sitting behind Robert Kincaidstruck, the one true love of her life, she has her hand on the door handle, wanting to flee from her life of domesticity, the traffic lights change & they drive home. Her heart is broken, I absolutely love this movie..............

  • Comment number 39.

    Is it wrong that i'm a man and got really choked up and even shed a few tears towards the end of 'The Help'.

    On the opposite side to that then I'd put Toy Story 3. I think it was because I'd heard and read so much about it being a tearjerker that i couldn't put that out of my head watching it. Since then actually, when there's a film i'm really looking forward to, i'll just avoid any and all reviews and skip past Mark' reviews on the podcast.

  • Comment number 40.

    Pharlap is another one. The best movie about a horse i've ever seen. Just make sure you watch the American cut rather than the Australian cut, the movies are so different with one simple edit. I think if i'd seen the AU cut it wouldn't have had the same impact at all.

  • Comment number 41.

    Black Beauty - 1994

  • Comment number 42.

    My picks:

    Wall-E, when he watches "Hello Dolly!" on an old TV and the song "To Be Loved" plays. He looks so lonely and sad. I find the animation of the main character himself to be the best of any I've seen in cinema.

    Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. "You are... and always will be... my friend." Best of the Trek films primarily due to the emphasis on character analysis and development.

    Gladiator. When Commodus kills his father, and at the end when Maximus dies: "He was a soldier of Rome. Honour him." For all the things wrong with the film (like historical inaccuracies), it excels at playing on emotions. The soundtrack is superb too.

    The Lord of the Rings. When Gandalf "dies". It is my favourite "Noooooooo!" in cinema. Also, the extended version has a bit more grieving which I think was skipped over too quickly in the theatrical release.

    There's plenty of others I could mention, and plenty in the realm of TV drama, but those were the first to spring to mind. Like Mark I tear up quite easily at any well-handled outburst of emotion. The Lion King made me cry as a child, but I didn't even choke up when I re-watched on Blu-ray.

  • Comment number 43.

    Tarka the Otter

  • Comment number 44.

    American Graffiti, the final 3 mins at the airport and the 'where-they-are-now' end credits. Always gets me welling up.

    Sling Blade, Karl's last conversation with the boy and the realisation of what is about to take place.

    Toy Story 3… that ending, the growing up and passing on his toys. It's a complete killer.

  • Comment number 45.

    Can't believe I missed the first thread - but surely the endings of City Lights and Watership Down must have got a lot of mentions.

  • Comment number 46.

    Mark P's absolutely right. The end of The Railway Children's an absolute killer. Someone just has to mention that scene and I well up. The other scene that never fails: the puppet show in La Double Vie de Veronique. Not the beat when the Princess puppet dies, but the beat immediately following when the kid hides her face in our heroine's arm. It's like a punch to the tear ducts.

  • Comment number 47.

    The waterworks are always on stand by for that scene when Elliots mum sees E.T for the first time lying on the floor as white as a sheet and she can't understand what she's looking at.

    The ending of Imitation Of Life (1959) can break the hardest of hearts. When mixed race Sarah Jane finally accepts her mother when its too late.

    Watership Down is a classic but people forget Martin Rosen's other Richard Adams adaptation 'The Plague Dogs' which has an even more tear inducing ending.

  • Comment number 48.

    breaking the waves once you've accepted that you are possibly being manipulated and/or emotionally/mentally raped is a total tearjerker mainly down to the performance of Mortimer, but also down to the humanity, love warmth and friendship exuded by Skarsgård, Cartlidge, Barr. its down to the acting that you feel these people care about each other, love each other and value each other.friendship, love, passion and compassion being indeed all the harsh, austere and cruel world of this film has to offer and so, I had to care too(your decision). Thus it becomes all the more heartbreaking when you see that she feels that her final act is the last and only option open to her, given that she is flawed/ hypersensitive/just too innocent for the world depicted. BTW was/is a really unique and original picture/take on the human condition but one that is no less horrible, uncomfortable, shocking and sad. having accepted that you are being forcefully manipulated you then ask is this being cynically done. one look to the sincerity/ integrity of the performances and i decided no, not cynical.after that you go along with it and thus even the ending with the bells in the clouds fits, and rather than being absurd, you in a way accept it within the narrative of an already apparently absurd yet no less startling piece. So having allowed yourself to cry it becomes a wholly rewarding journey to which crying at the cruelty and sadness of life is no longer an option, but inversely a necessary, mostly forgotten but for that, all the more vital human release.

  • Comment number 49.

    I realise I am late to this thread but the film that gets me every time is Control. Maybe it is because I am a huge Joy Division fan that it resonates with me, but the last 20 minutes build up so much that the final act is all the more effecting.
    It is the lasting thoughts of Curtis' legacy being left with his family, friends and fans to deal with the consequences of his tortured decision. Is he a genius or did he take the easy way out? Sam Riley and Samantha Morton are absolutely brilliant in the film

  • Comment number 50.

    I recall crying tears when watching Norman Wisdom in the Early Bird. Putin was looking out of his bedroom window in the middle of the night during torrential rain and his faithful horse that pulled the milk cart - now replaced by an electric milk float was stood outside looking drenched and forlone.

  • Comment number 51.

    "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" was the most tear inducing when he calls his father.

  • Comment number 52.

    I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned this movie but one of my all time favourite films, and one you simply can't get through without blubbing is 'Who's Life is it Anyway?' with Richard Dreyfuss giving a masterpiece of a performance. It is rarely seen on tv anymore and I'm not even sure you can get it on DVD but it's the portrayal of a sculptor and his fight for the right to die after being paralysed from the neck down following an accident. His plea to the judge at the end of the film doesn't just tug on the heart strings but rips them out and puts them through the blender!

  • Comment number 53.

    I haven't read all teh comments, but two films I remember crying buckets at in my late 20s (I'm now 64) are Dersu Uzala and The Slipper and the Rose.

  • Comment number 54.

    Has no-one included Casablanca? To see hard boiled Rick not just melt at the woman he loves but sacrificing her for what is a greater good, the defeat of Nazism, makes me cry at the passion and the sacrifice.

    My favourite sad moment is in the Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.
    Clive Candy's best friend, Shcurdorf-Kretchmer, tentatively breaks it to him he is to marry the woman he loves (Deboarah Kerr).

    No histronics, anger or bitterness from Candy, just a hearty handshake and 'congratualtions dear boy it couldn't happen to a nicer couple.'
    When he lies to say 'she was never my type but a great girl,' Candy's overplayed smile is all we need to know that his heart is breaking. Wonderful.

  • Comment number 55.

    Wish I had seen this in time...Nil by Mouth for me. I wanted to give Kathy Burke a big hug after it.

    And Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. The bit where Spock, dying, struggles to his feet, and tugs at his tunic before turning around to face his captain and friend for the last time; just that single motion says more about him than a million words could.

  • Comment number 56.

    Yes Watership Down, The Railway Children ... but what about When Peggy Sue Got Married? Kathleen Turner does a bit of time-travelling and then "Oh, Mum ... you're so ... young" (sniff).

  • Comment number 57.

    When I asked you to tell me about the films that make you cry and why I never expected such a huge response.
    Movies Reviews

  • Comment number 58.

    The end of Silent Running - OK, it's only a machine but seeing Dewey all alone as it waters the plants under the lights...

  • Comment number 59.

    I can't believe I missed this call for tear-jerkers. Cards on the table: I try very hard *not* to cry at movies. It may be socially acceptable for movie critics; it is rather less so for former Marines. That said... I can't believe no one has yet mentioned "Shadowlands", the CS Lewis biopic starring (crucially) Sir Anthony Hopkins. There is a moment in that film where he has to explain to his stepson that Joy, the wife and mother, has died. Throughout the film - *as with every other Hopkins historical role* - he has seemed fairly emotionally repressed but now, finally, the dam breaks and he just loses it. Sir Anthony Hopkins bawling his eyes out - after he kept it together in Remains of the Day, Howards' End, etc etc - batters down the audiences' defences as well (or maybe it's just me). That has to be the ultimate tearjerking moment because it's the culmination and abandonment of an entire career's worth of repression.

    That aside, the first rule about Jessie's Song in Toy Story 2 is...we don't talk about Jessie's song in Toy Story 2.

  • Comment number 60.

    I might well be alone on this one but I welled up watching Source Code, at the bit when Jake Gyllenhaal's character realises the truth about his situation.
    This is perhaps more surprising given that I have never cried during a film before or since!

  • Comment number 61.

    I'm sure someone else has already mentioned crying not just at Wall E, but even at the first teaser trailer. Just him looking up into the sky and saying his name had me blubbering.
    And reading through these comments just remembering some of the mentioned films had me welling up. Well done, everybody.

  • Comment number 62.

    The Colour Purple - Whoopie Goldberg`s first movie. I start crying as soon as the music starts at the beginning of the movie and then spend the rest of the movie replenishing my tissues....

    Also, Pan`s Labyrinth. I cry in awe of the beauty of the story and the sadness of reality and the victory of goodness in people. A masterpiece.

  • Comment number 63.

    Schindler's List has me sobbing every time I watch the scene at the end when Oskar says he could have saved more lives. I cannot watch that scene without sobbing uncontrollably. Also Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon has me in tears when Lyndon's son is on his death bed and asks his father if he is going to heaven. Gets me every time!! The other film that had me in floods of tears was the end of Jim Sheridan's film In America.

  • Comment number 64.

    I'm not one for crying in a film but one of the handful of films which has tears tumbling down my face is Kolya. The scene when Kolya is in the bath is just gut wrenching.
    Another film which makes me cry is Empire of the Sun. I'm not a fan of Steven Spielberg (E.T. had no affect on me at all), but I came across this film many years ago, late one evening and at the end I was a sobbing like a child.
    Grave of the fireflies is also a given at making me cry.
    I think the common link here is the abandonment of children. Watching a film where a child is taken away from it's parents (for whatever reason) and has to try and survive and adapt to their new surroundings, forces out our basic human instinct of wanting to protect and care.

  • Comment number 65.

    For me, a more emotional yet beautiful Schindler's List is the Italian film Life is Beautiful. The relationship between the father and his son, their joy and imagination contrasting against the harshness of their reality is simply touching.

    Two significant scenes that stand out are the bit where he plays her the music into the camp but more significantly when the son is hiding in that box as his father pretends he is playing a hide and seek game when he knows he is about to go get shot so his son doesn't know. Its such a brilliant film.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.