Film As I think we've well established by now, I cry. A lot. I especially cry at films, with films, about films, entirely aware that I'm being emotionally manipulated, but what's the point of seeing most films if it isn't to be emotional manipulated? When reviewers complain about a film being emotionally manipulative it's usually, I think, because they're embarrassed to admit that they've been touched by something they'd otherwise treat a detachment or which they think is beneath them somehow. What they fail to notice or forget is that if a film has made them care about the characters or the situations enough for them to have that reaction, however cynically, it's done its job.
When I cried at The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King though it was for a range of complex reasons. Much of this admittedly was because of the reasons suggested in the opening paragraph, because of character beats, because of the story, because after three years spent with these characters and this story across theatrical and extended cuts all it needed was for Howard Shore's Hobbiton theme to well up and I was gone. As the final credits rolled, I'd been crying for a solid hour on and off, and as the final character cards appeared to an extent it was not a little amount of grief that I'd not be seeing the characters again. Little did I know that some of them would turn up again years later ...
But some of the tears were generated by something else. Awe. The incident during the final battle when the olyphant stride onto screen. By that point my suspension of disbelief was total and I was entirely convinced momentarily that I was watching some new species, quickly followed by the cineaste appreciating the sheer beauty of what these computer generated effects have accomplished. At this point I like to imagine my face resembled Jodie Foster during that moment in Contact. How that must have looked three rows back from the front at FACT in Liverpool. Even having seen Jurassic Park and everything else, it was in this scene I realised CGI effect would make anything visual possible.
Few films have made me cry this much since. Gravity perhaps. I wretched during Doctor Who's Last Christmas during that line which Steven Moffat says in an interview in Doctor Who Magazine loads of people don't even understand. Quite often now, perhaps because I'm getting older, such outpourings are because of fear, of what's been lost and would will be. I know that when I cried again last time I saw Return of the King it because of the memory of seeing it that first time, remember who I was at 29, of a time when I was just still looking to the future, when I still had a plan, on the cusp of something brilliant, before the cynicism descended and that kind of awe was something new. What has happened to me?