Tuesday, November 1, 2011

On Life, Cinema, and Tears

It may or may not come as a surprise to some of you, but there was a point in my life where bringing out the waterworks in me was easier than 1, 2, 3. How easy? Well to put this in perspective let's just say I may hold the title for being one of only a handful of people to have squeezed out a tear for the movie Dungeons & Dragons. Anyone who has seen that movie can back me up on this, that's a feat worthy of any embarrassment that may be felt afterwords. Looking back on the film, however, it's not really that surprising to me that I did cry during the film.

Dungeons & Dragons came about in a film complicated time in my life, Middle School. At my school I was at the bottom of shit hill and everything rolled in my direction. Any bully, or aspiring cool guy, looking to earn his stripes turned his target on the largest one in the room - me. I was a triple layer of easy pickings. I was overtly nervous, had the worse dress sense you can imagine, and took everything seriously. Especially as those three tumultuous years rattled on. Being a relatively chubby kid with glasses thicker than windshields it took no time at all for people to pick me out of the crowd for bullying. I was shoved into lockers, laughed at in hallways, tripped in Gym class, and called just about everything under the sun. A few years of that and I reckon a few of you would be easy to well up too.

As you might imagine during that time what I looked for in films was quite different from what I look for now. I wanted escape. I wanted escape so badly that even the worst of cinema was a perfect refuge for a soul like me. Any character of any likability I latched onto instantaneously, and as such any emotion they felt, I felt. So when that character, or another one, was 'removed from the picture' those waterworks kicked on and I was heading to tearville. Unfortunately this didn't help much when we watched movies at school, but more often than not I was good at hiding it (except in the case of Glory - damn you Edward Zwick!).

Movies that I watched during that time period generally rank high even today among the films that brought on the heaviest tears. Movies like The Green Mile, tailor made tearjerkers piled on top of a tear prone individual. You might not even want to imagine the kind of flow that went off in my eyes for that one.

High School brought on a different perspective in me, though. That tendency for crying faded off in to a hard built shell of protection. Where I would have needed a box of kleenex for Gandalf fading into the abyss only the year before, now I could essentially 'suck it up' and move on. In school, I had developed a skill for going completely unnoticed. I stayed quiet in class, quiet out of class, and kept to myself. If anyone disturbed that flow of events looking for a quick diatribe, I walked past them as if they were a gentle breeze on a plain fall day. Over time, people started leaving me alone, and that's where movies began to take their place in my life.

By High School I was quite aware that movies were a big part of my life. I've always been quick to change momentary addictions, but movies have always served as the backdrop to any current trend I may be going through. I hadn't seen near on enough to call myself an expert, but I worked at seeing more. I made it a point to go back and digesting as many movies as possible. It became more about the quantity of movies I could see rather than the quality of them. A trait that became all the more complicated with the rise of college.

In my college years and beyond tears were hard to come by. A movie really had to work at it if they wanted me to rock the boat. I had seen all the tricks, all the moves, and was ready and waiting when BFF number one was killed off thirty minutes into the adventure. A few films still had the power to bring out the most gloomy nature inside me. Grave of the Fireflies is often the first one to spring to my mind. No film in my viewing history has moved me quite like that one.

I find it nice to reflect from time to time on how my life and movies so greatly impacted one another throughout the years. How my emotions tweaked and turned the way I weighed and measured them. It makes me wonder what I'll think ten, twenty, or thirty years from now when the circumstances of my life change again.

4 better thoughts:

Jessica said...

Such a beautiful, honest post!

I cry easily at movies. Easier than in real life. I guess it's an outlet for tears that have built up inside myself for other reasons. It's so cleansing, isn't it?

Andrew Robinson said...


We've spoken about you and Glory so I get you. But I know I'm a lot harder cookie to crack when it comes to letting the waterworks go with films. As you say, at this point I've seen all the tricks so it's rough.

Some of the few films (today) to do it to me is: THE FOUNTAIN and LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL.

Dan Heaton said...

It's really interesting for me to note how much what's happening in life can influence how we respond to films. I don't cry much from movies, but I've found myself being really affected by odd moments. It's not usually the obvious scenes where they're trying to make us sad. It's sometimes just the brief little shots that can do it. I've really noticed this now that I'm a parent, which is just one type of example. It can be even a small event that happened that day that can do it.

Excellent post.

Nick Prigge said...

Honest, passionate post. Thank you.

And "Glory" got me to sniffle in grade school, too. So you're not alone.

Related Posts with Thumbnails