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.)
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.
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?