Cinematic prescriptions for Weeping when Required – take Magnolia twice yearly

It was Josie Long who told me it was called crying porn. When the phrase comes into conversation, there is an initial look of suspicion, a pause filled with the gurglings of perturbed imagination and the hope that whatever these words mean will be a relief, not a reason to cancel an association or friendship.
What is in your mind?
While pornography hopes to create lust, crying porn hopes to make you sad (which the existence of the standard porn industry might do to you anyway). It is songs, film scenes, poetry or narrative, that brings forth tears. It is resorted to when someone may have skipped emotion during the day to day running of their life, but now feels the desire to be moved to tears.
After being stoical at a funeral, once away from the pews and back home, you might feel that you should have cried a little, so you manipulate yourself with art.
For many people, the first ten minutes of Pixar’s Up is very effective (not be confused with Russ Meyer’s Up!, which falls a little closer into primary porn category). Terms of Endearment crops up amongst the middle aged, as well as similar endeavors such as Beaches. Tom Hanks has made a few, though Bachelor Party is not amongst them, though Philadelphia and Saving Private Ryan may make the list. Philadelphia is helped by being bookended by Bruce Springsteen’s sparse, hoarse disease confessional and Neil Young’s funeral song.
For some of my generation, mercenary thriller The Wild Geese would make it into crying porn category too. I think I may merely be very tired, but have found that the last two times I talked about one scene I welled up a little, and on stage too.
Starring Richard Harris, Richard Burton, Hardy Kruger and Roger Moore, it is all about a mercenary mission going wrong due to the venality of Stewart Granger (bloody Stewart Granger). Poor Richard Harris, playing a highly ethical mercenary and single dad, nearly makes it all the way through the mission as almost everyone else dies around him. About to reach the plane of escape, he is shot in the knee and demands his best friend Burton shoots him so he is not unceremoniously hacked to pieces by some very cross people.
That scene may be crying porn enough, with the obligatory orchestral surge to manipulate adeptly, but it is the earlier scene where he doesn’t hear his son say he loves him that will cause a dad to emotionally stumble.

Parenthood leads to being surprised by sentences suddenly creating a surge of emotions. Sometimes it will merely be the potency of cheap soap opera moments combined with a cello, or a headline that leads to pity.
Backstage at a comedy gig last week, Jo Brand and I were talking of children, it reminded me of a newspaper story about an accident that led to the death of a six year old, as the words came out, I welled up and stopped mid-sentence.
It must be the sleep.

What is it about the potency of cinema and music that makes us more susceptible than reality? Does the news need more cello? (no, it is close enough to that already – “don’t forget, being momentarily upset by current affairs is now considered an action up there with being a poet going into the Spanish Civil War).

What of crying porn songs?
For some it may be Foreigner’s I Want to Know What Love Is, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Into My Arms, or Billy Bragg’s Tank Park Salute.

Who are the great actors of crying porn?
I would nominate Julianne Moore for Magnolia and The End of the Affair.

and there’s Ricky Schroeder in The Champ, not my cup of tea, but I know it worked for many, I would rather have Takeshi Kitano in Hana-Bi. I remember watching Takeshi’s Dolls and the woman I was sat next to wept all the way through. Another honorable mention for Takeshi’s final scene with Tom Conti in Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence.

And there’s Spartacus being shown his baby as he is dying on a cross.

And The Fisher King

And Edward Scissorhands

And Robert Donat and Greer Garson in Goodbye Mr Chips…

And as I write this, 24 Hours in A&E has started. I don’t watch much TV, but I always have time for this, humanity often at it’s best. Better get ready to be moved and warmed by an old couple facing drama, confusion and, hopefully, vanquishing death on this occasion…uh oh, here we go again.

feel free to comment below with your choices.

I am off to Edinburgh with a new show where I will reveal too much of my brain HERE

My new tour, with added Grace Petrie, will go across England, Ireland and Wales (a bit of Norway, but no USA or Australia until 2015), dates HERE

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26 Responses to Cinematic prescriptions for Weeping when Required – take Magnolia twice yearly

  1. Christine says:

    I cried today because Topsy and Tim broke a vase and couldn’t tell their mum. I think I need a holiday….

  2. Christine says:

    Also……Am I weird that I sang “Into My Arms” to my son when he was really small, as a lullaby?

  3. fivefrogsblog says:

    I cry at ads on the tv. I avoid sentimental movies because sobbing for 12 hours plays havoc with… well, everything.

    Crying porn song #1 – Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton. I turn the radio off so I don’t crash the car from grief. The story behind it is making me tear up as I type.


  4. “The Book Thief” got me last week.

  5. jedburgh says:

    The Railway Children. “Daddy, my Daddy!” Every single time.

  6. Patrick Ness’s ‘A Monster Calls’. I basically sobbed my way through the final chapter.
    Yes, it’s a children’s book. No, that doesn’t matter.

  7. Carl says:

    Mr Hollands opus. I’m not really sure why. And Jessie’s song in toy story 2. And the end of toy story 3 obviously.

  8. Kev eff says:

    After a marriage break up I found the Low song Just Make It Stop an absolute dambuster of a song to start the tears pouring from me.In no time at all my bottom lip would go and I’d have to find myself a little hole hidden away from the world rather than face polite society.
    The weird thing is that as time has gone on and I’ve become a little less raw and emotionally bruised I’ve found the song to be a rally call to the broken hearted. I remember laying in the bath one evening and the rather wonderful Marc Riley show was pouring out of my little speaker.The strumming of the guitar that begins the Low song filled the room and surprisingly the tears didn’t flow. I almost felt a release and started untying the chord and untwisting the knot. It’s true I was looking up from a ten foot hole (that’s enough lyrics -ed) but had I turned the corner? Nowadays I see it as only a positive song. Beautiful and brittle but so so strong and life affirming.

  9. Jane, L~J (@localnotail) says:

    About halfway through “Where the Wild Things Are” I began to cry uncontrollably. This continued for the rest of the film. I am too scared to watch it again in case of a repeat attack. I think it was the moment when Max grows up.

    This bit, in Magnolia

    Laura Dern looks like Snoopy when she cries. She really captures his mouth beautifully in Wild At Heart.

  10. My problem is that it’s usually only the happy things that make me cry.
    Possibly this was a conscious choice after watching the dreadful, dreadful Disney film ‘Old Yeller’ at the age of 8 or so. Whoever made that film should be shot.
    Anyway, I seem to cry all the time in films nowadays. I cried in Tangled when they are on the lake watching the balloons and I’m pretty sure I cried at the end of Frozen as well. Songs don’t usually make me cry, possibly because I’m a lyricist and can usually see the join.

  11. Rob says:

    There’s a passage in Peter Carey’s Theft which begins ‘we had been born walled out from Art’ which gets me every time. Perfectly encapsulates the moment when you realise there is more to life than school work death. And that you are not alone in the way you feel about books or music or films or whatever. For my wife it’s the last chapter of The Grapes of Wrath. And the Angel of the North.

  12. Mike Zeidler says:

    What always gets me is the scene in Field of Dreams where the little girl falls off the bleachers and starts choking on some popcorn.

    One of the ghostly ballplayers gives up an eternity of baseball to save her life, when any one of the non-ghost people standing around could have done the same thing he ends up doing. Such a massive sacrifice for a problem so easily solved.

  13. mikeyukhc says:

    Toy Story 3 sets me a-blubbing, and tricks me every time with the next sad bit.

  14. Tony Pedley says:

    Personally can’t watch the A.I. without welling up.

    Watching “Pearl Harbour” in it’s entirety causes me to cry too, but for totally different reasons

  15. says:

    Long lost families.. Gets me every time…

  16. Ditto Tank Park Salute, but I’ll raise you Elbow (pick one from) The Everthere, Puncture Repair or Friend of Ours

  17. I have a youtube playlist called ‘catharsis’ filled with these. ‘Up’ is in there. Levon Helm gritting his teeth before the last chorus of ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’ from ‘The Last Waltz’. Christopher Hitchens’ ‘The only conversation worth having’ speech. The Who’s performance at the concert for New York, really giving the still shocked and grieving audience something! And ‘Christian the Lion’ still does it for me!

  18. Louise says:

    The opening sequence of Up.

  19. jtweedie says:

    The solo in Nirvana’s Pennyroyal Tea. After Cobain’s death, of all their songs, there was a real poignancy to this one, a sense of fragility which the solo expressed, and I did have a little tear. I was always a bigger fan of Radiohead’s Amnesiac than Kid A, but one day I was lying on my bed listening to Kid A through my headphones, and I just must have crossed some emotional threshold because I was felt an overwhelming feeling – only Nirvana’s song has ever come close to that feeling.

    I agree about 24 Hours in A&E: I don’t watch it all that often, but one episode featured a guy who came in to hospital with a stranger who was very seriously ill, and when he refused to leave and said he felt the man needed someone to be there with him in his final moments I just blubbed. It’s testament to how compassionate people can be. It was entirely heart-warming.

    To get a little more light-hearted, Bilbo and Frodo leaving at the end of Lord of the Rings had me in tears. A little more contemporary, Kazuo Ishiguru’s Never Let Me Go was intensely sad at the end.

  20. Lydia Juerss says:

    Most traditional style crying points in films/programs get me as do particularly beautiful moments but I’ve had three rather memorable crying moments. My first trip to the cinema with a particularly nice young man we went to see Titantic and I started crying as the opening credits rolled up. He leant over and asked what was wrong and between sobs I managed to get out “I know how it ends”. (He can’t have been too put off as we are now married with 2 little boys.)
    At university, my room mates and I went to see Star Trek Generations (I’m a huge trekker – Kirk was my first crush) and I cried all the way home in the taxi due to Kirk’s death and about 1 1/2 hours later I had a knock on my door (I was still crying) of the same room mates, checking that it wasn’t something deeper and I wasn’t just about to top myself.
    And more recently, while heavily pregnant (my only excuse), I turned on the tv to catch the end of teletubbies (the bit where the baby in the sun sets) and when my Mum came in a while later I managed to explain while blowing my nose “the baby went away” which started another bout…

  21. Conor says:

    “Good will hunting” everytime for me. You no the “its not your fault will” scene. Wrecks me.

  22. mediaatqegs says:

    The Dambuster’s March and Afterglow (by Genesis) always bring a tear to my eye. The Book Thief (on paper rather than celluloid)

  23. A English says:

    Ditto for all the above, more or less. Right, here goes for mine. I hope you’re comfortable:

    Life Is Beautiful
    The Elephant Man
    The theme music from The Incredible Hulk (TV)
    Intermezzo – Cavalleria Rusticana
    Sirens – Pearl Jam
    Any film where a dog – a nice Dog, not Cujo – dies. Particularly True Grit (first version). Why would you do that, you bastards? Why?
    Andy Millman’s speech in the Big Brother House in the final episode of Extras
    Every bloody episode of Derek
    Paths Of Glory
    Star Trek II
    The Green Mile
    Always (Spielberg)

    You can’t beat a bit of catharsis.

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