I’m Such a Sap

I’m such a sap. I truly am. I cry at the drop of a hat. As my best friend has jokingly told me for years, I cry at milk commercials. Whether that makes me a mess or just emotional, I choose to repress it and not dig too deeply internally to figure it all out.

On those occasions when I need a really good cry, where do I turn? To film music, of course. While I love a rousing main theme or a pulsating action cue to get my heart pumping, my favorite film music is the kind that brings tears to my eyes. It happens at home or in public, anywhere the music hits my ears.

Sometimes a particularly beautiful melody will sweep in out of nowhere and out pop the tears. It usually doesn’t take long for them to brim over the bottom eyelids and cascade down my cheeks. But for the most part, the music is sad in nature.

It’s been especially bad the last couple of months ever since I discovered Philippe Rombi‘s UN HOMME ET SON CHIEN. As I walked Watson and listened to it on my iPod, when friends saw me on the street they literally asked me what was wrong. Thankfully, I had an excuse and blamed the tears on the winter cold. (I refuse to share my love of something that beautiful with cretins who won’t appreciate it, even if they are my friends.)

“Main Title” from UN HOMME ET SON CHIEN

I have absolutely no shame in weeping in a movie theater. Okay, I might try and cover it a bit. But I’m not a very quiet person and suppressing it just brings out the dry heaves, which is probably worse than the actual crying. I wasn’t the only one crying in FINDING NEVERLAND when Johnny Depp had to answer little Freddie Highmore’s question: “Why Does She Have To Die?” And it’s the addition of the chorus at 1:15 that gets me every time. I guarantee you that one cue alone won Jan A.P. Kaczmarek the Oscar.

“Why Does She Have To Die?” from FINDING NEVERLAND

I’ve even been known to sob over particularly stunning French horn licks or certain clarinet melodies. The latter is probably based on foolish, leftover feelings of inadequacy for never pursuing that career. So imagine the buckets of tears I spew when Elliot says goodbye to a dying E.T. No matter how many times I’ve seen the film—and it must be going on 25–30 times by now—I still cry copiously even though I know what happens in the story. That’s the power of John Williams‘ music.


But no theme brings me closer to wailing like a seal than the love theme between Anne and Peter in Alfred Newman‘s THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK. Those legendary Newman strings soar heavenward with unspoken passion and you know the two young lovers are living on borrowed time. Moving in so many ways.

Believe me now? Though I don’t literally cry at milk commercials, I’d love to see a “Got Milk” ad starring some renowned film composers. Picture John Williams or Howard Shore with a thin slice of white on their upper lip. How about Danny Elfman or Ennio Morricone? As for the puddle that forms on my chin at the thought of such an ad, I’m not sure whether those are tears of joy or tears of laughter.

Do you have a particular genre of film music that you prefer?

      1. If you’ve heard Star Trek 2, basically Horner first tried out all his tricks for that in Battle Beyond the Stars. It’s actually a terrifically fun score. And bless their hearts, the orchestra tries their best. The poor trumpets have it worst.
        .-= That Neil Guy´s last blog ..Like Nothing You’ve Seen Before =-.

  1. I read this aloud to my fiancé, as she’s also blessed with an abundance of emotion (it compensates for my “emotional constipation” and barren tear ducts). I can definitely relate, though, to the immense power of an aching clarinet line or a heart-tugging melody. It’s one of the reasons I gravitate towards this kind of music the way I do; it affects me more than any other.

  2. yep happens to me whenever i hear or watch Edward Scissorhands or Little Women.

  3. speaking of Elfman- I’m awaiting your 9 list on his work… that IS if youre a fan… I personally dont think he’s done anything that wonderful or memorable in years but his earlier stuff was remarkable.

    1. He’s not my first choice to listen to, but I could easily round up 9 scores. February is already booked. Hmm, March perhaps? It’s even more perfect for that month with the release of ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

      Thanks for the idea. It’s now on the calendar. :)

  4. Talking about Jan A.P. Kaczmarek: why does his recent Hachi – a dog’s story is not published on CD wherever? It is a really good score!

  5. Syrup? Yum!

    Jim, would it be the same thing if the title of the film would be
    “A Man and His Cat” ? :)

    I’ve also been know to cry at the movie theater. On particularly “embarrassing” moment was during The Color Purple in 1985. It was a surprise for me as much as my neighbors!

    The first time I listened to the score by Alan Menken “Pocahontas” was before I saw the movie actually. I was listening to this cue “Farewell” (starting around the third minute) and all of a sudden you have this crescendo and bang, I was crying like a baby. It must be that ti note.

      1. I’m with you. I wasn’t as crazy about the POCAHONTAS score initially, as compared to the earlier scores, but it’s grown on me over the years. I’m looking forward to Menken’s return with RAPUNZEL later this year.

      2. It is an underated beauty. There are lots of very strong melodic lines in there, both songs and score ( especially “Ship at Sea”). The idea of doing the canon like parts in “Savages” was still very effective even if that originally came from WEST SIDE STORY. Ok Mel Gibson has a singer was really pushing it. :)

        1. I love the canon and counterpoint in “Savages” as well. Though I bet the practice started before WSS. ;) But that’s a stunning example to compare it to. Mel doesn’t embarrass himself at least. And I’d rather see him as a cartoon voice than in person onscreen.

    1. Martin, it may not be the same level of tears with “A Man and His Cat,” but I do cry buckets at the end of BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S when Audrey Hepburn trudges through the rain looking for “Cat.” When “Moon River” appears one last time as she finds him, how can I resist?

      If you’ve read my review of THE COLOR PURPLE, you’ll know that my tears are of a totally different kind for that movie. I won’t go into it again here. LOL

      So many people poo-poo Menken but I think it’s because of his success and 8 Oscars, every one of which were deserved, in my opinion. From LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALADDIN, POCAHONTAS, and to other lesser titles, those films wouldn’t have been half as powerful without Menken’s contributions musically.

      1. my personal favorite of his scores is Hunchback- the songs arent great but that score is definately his darkest work. I get goosebumps listening to it.

        1. I’ll agree that it’s probably Menken’s most complex orchestral score. But those songs, as you said, aren’t great. But that final orchestral flourish in “Out There” gives me goosebumps.

      2. Why resist to a true classic like Moon River? It is a full moon tonight and I’m having a diner party here at home with friends so I just added Moon River in the playlist :) Thanks for the suggestion!

        THE COLOR PURPLE will always a special place in my heart because it is linked to a life changing moment for me -like the main character, a liberation.
        I was touched by that movie, mostly because of its music (even if it is sap and manipulative) and Alan Daviau’s beautiful job with the cinematography. The main melody captured me right from the beginning and it is only 14 years later that I learnt that it was really Georges Delerue’s theme. That film has its flaws for sure. When I read the book a few years later, I thought that Spielberg was too evasive on the lesbian relationship. He made the film too “nice and pretty” -almost like an upgrade Disney movie. This film contains an anthology scene. For me, The Scarification/Shaving scene is a striking moment of drama with brilliant editing. Simply amazing.

        People are just jealous. I agree with you Menken comment . This man is very talented.

        1. Enjoy the dinner party. We’re going to be in the single digits so I don’t think anybody will be doing much outside tonight. :)

          I agree with much about what you say about THE COLOR PURPLE and the music, cinematography, and editing. And, yes, it definitely has its flaws.

          I’m sure Menken is just concentrated on the music as he should be. A new Menken score makes me happy.

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