Today I was eating lunch at a friend’s house and the television was on. The Fellowship of the Ring happened to be playing and if you know me slightly well you probably know that I adore J.R.R. Tolkien’s books and Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films. So while we cooked and ate our meal we watched along between the Fellowship’s arrival at Lothlórien and the breaking of the Fellowship. If you’re familiar with the story from the film you know about a significant event that took place within that time period (which in the book actually took place at the beginning of The Two Towers, after the breaking of the Fellowship).
If you haven’t seen the films and you don’t know what happened this will be a spoiler: Boromir is killed. Casting Sean Bean to play Boromir probably automatically gave American audiences a negative prejudice against the character (he being the antagonist in many films including but not limited to: The Island, The Hitcher, GoldenEye, and National Treasure [the only one I’ve actually seen]), which is further fueled by a general lack of Boromir’s strong positive qualities presented in the film (unless you watch the Extended Edition, which I highly recommend). But if you’ve read the books you probably have a much higher view of Boromir, and his glorious final scene can be very emotional when you consider the honor and valor that Boromir demonstrated in his short lifetime. I remembered that this scene really got to me emotionally, especially Boromir’s final utterance toward Aragorn, “My king.” My eyes welled up with tears, like in The Two Towers film when Gandalf, Éomer, and the Riders of the Rohan appear at sunrise to defeat Saruman’s Uruk-hai army at Helm’s Deep.
I got to thinking about the subject and I made a short list of films that similarly moved me to tears, after which I asked myself, “Why?” I discovered some interesting patterns that linked various films on the list:
- GLORY/HONOR/TRIUMPH – The Fellowship of the Ring (Boromir’s death), almost the entire film Braveheart, Gladiator (Maximus’ death), Ed Wood (Ed’s sense of accomplishment after premiering “Plan 9 From Outer Space”), etc.
- KINSHIP – The Fellowship of the Ring (Boromir’s death), Braveheart, Brian’s Song (Gale’s locker room speech), The Life Aquatic (Ned’s death), Field of Dreams (Ray plays catch with his father), The Royal Tenenbaums (Chas is present at Royal’s death), etc.
- LOSS/HEARTBREAK/INJUSTICE – Braveheart (William’s tragic losses and death), Schindler’s List, The Pianist, Philadelphia (Andrew’s death and funeral), Man on the Moon (Andy’s death and funeral), Big Fish (Edward’s death), etc.
- JOY/LOVE – About Schmidt (Warren sees his overseas foster child’s drawing), Big Fish (Edward’s joyous death), The Royal Tenenbaums (Chas is present at Royal’s death), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Joel and Clementine decide to stay together), etc.
Many of these categories can carry over into others (i.e. LOVE is tied to KINSHIP and TRIUMPH, etc.), but in general I see that these distinct themes appeal to what makes me human, or at least human in a broken yet hopeful state. While looking at the list above I see the Gospel calling out to me, and the same can be said of a list of books, music, or visual art that has appealed to our emotions.
From tearful heartbreak to tearful elation the Gospel has radically given us a schema with which we can understand the universe and our place in it, and it is not simply a cold, purely logical grid to look at the world (which probably kept me from crying when Mr. Spock died in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). Through Christ we’ve the opportunity to come to God with our brokenness and to be able to experience true kinship and love as we inhabit a broken yet redeemed world. Because of what God has accomplished throughout history we also have a hope for the undoing of this brokenness and a time when injustice is eliminated. Tears of joy will most assuredly follow.
What films have made you cry and what is the underlying meaning of your tears?
Tags: About Schmidt, Big Fish, Boromir, Brain's Song, Braveheart, brokenness, crying, Ed Wood, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Field of Dreams, Gladiator, glory, God, Gospel, heartbreak, honor, Hope, injustice, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jesus, joy, kinship, loss, love, Man on the Moon, Peter Jackson, Philadelphia, Schindler's List, Sean Bean, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Life Aquatic, The Lord of the Rings, The Pianist, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Two Towers, triumph, victory