What sort of things make men cry?
I won’t pretend to speak for all men, but I’ll speak for myself and maybe that will shed some light on men at large.
Musical tends to be a major factor in firing up my tear ducts, in fact it is the most frequent culprit. A swelling string section can get to the soft, gooey center of just about any man who is not dead inside.
That’s true whether in an orchestra film score, or incorporated into a ballad or lament. Give me the cellos stirring things up deep down inside, and then the higher pitched choir of the violins to grant the release of tears.
Peter Gabriel’s Scratch My Back album, especially The Book Of Love, is a prime example of blending pop music with classical trimmings.
Same can be said about Damien Rice songs like Amie, Delicate or Colour Me In. Something with a slow build and a big finish a la With Or Without You, Journey’s Faithfully or Bloc Party’s Sunday tend to get my emotions roiling as well. It’s that they’re working the body bag of my emotions before knocking my block off.
Thematically speaking, the idea of letting go of a dream, a belief, or especially a loved one, can often hit my soft spot. Of course, that’s usually accompanied by the aforementioned musical cues.
John Barry’s theme from Somewhere In Time calls to mind the great essence of an otherwise flawed story about love made possible by impossible circumstances and then torn asunder by the unstoppable force of time.
Meet Joe Black, is a bad three hour movie that might have made a pretty decent two hour movie buried in there somewhere. But the ending featuring Anthony Hopkins saying goodbye to his family and friends with the fireworks and the swelling Thomas Newman score building out of What A Wonderful World always gets me misty.
Stand By Me starts with a simple string rendition of the titular song and ends with the main characters having to leave the innocence of childhood behind. So it gets me every time.
James Horner’s score from Braveheart is fantastic. At one point it takes a fairly over the top torture and execution scene and turns it into the build up of a moment of pure catharsis. The musical score bangs home the idea that, while they may have killed William Wallace, they did not destroy his beliefs. It’s one of those all too rare swelling-tears-pumping-fist moments.
I can occasionally be caught off-guard by understated pieces of a story that are not punctuated by a 50 piece orchestra. Stallone’s locker room interaction with Michael B. Jordan in Creed where he briefly talks about what he’d give up for one more day with his late wife is a recent such emotional movie moment.
Another moment is in Of Mice And Men, when George kills Lenny to save him from a more painful death at the hands of the lynch mob, but also because he knows Lenny can’t help himself but be dangerous sometimes. Either way, he killed the only person who he really cared for, the only thing he really had to hold onto in the world, and that’s a button pusher for me.
As Flowers For Algernon winds down the formerly mentally handicapped narrator starts losing his super intelligence and falls back into his lesser intellectual state. You can tell that he can, and cannot, sense him losing himself again and it’s pretty heartbreaking.
And, good lord, do not even get me started on anything that involves someone’s pet or animal companion dying. That’s the one thing that breaks me down every single time, even if it’s hammy or kinda rudimentary.
At any rate, it’s healthy to have a good cry every once in a while – manly or otherwise. So I’m always happy to revisit the things that bring me the sweet release of sorrow, and you should be as well.