The Saddest Films Of All Time – Tears and Movies

They hit a nerve and make you cry. The saddest films of all time, that for one reason or another strike a chord in you that sets off water works.  As a man I don’t like to be seen crying nor the fact that I am crying.  Sadness is an important notch on the spectrum of human emotions, without the bad and sad you’ll never recognize the good and happy.  At MoviesChooseMe, we are about inspiration and motivation so the genre of tearjerkers may seem to be irrelevant.  However, let us justify this entry to our website by listing why sad and somewhat depressing films, like the list below, have catalyzing power.


  1. Schindler’s List



Directed by Steven Spielberg.

Starring Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, and Embeth Davidtz.

Based on true story about one man’s struggle to salvage what is left of human decency during World War II.  Oskar Schindler’s wit, charm and virtues saved hundreds of lives by risking his own in the most hateful time in modern history.  This film is an epic that delves into horrifying detail about the despicable treatment of Polish Jewish men, women and children in the ghettos and camps of occupying Nazi troops.


  1. My Girl



Directed by Howard Zieff

Starring Dan Akroyd, Macaulay Culkin, and Jamie Lee Curtis.

A moving drama about a little girl and boy who are best friends, Vada and Thomas.  Vada has a strained relationship with her father, a mortician, and her mother has passed.  She deals with the traditional day to day stresses of being a child and the possibility of a stepmother.


  1. Pursuit of Happyness



Directed by Gabriele Muccino.

Starring Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Brian Howe and Thandie Newton

A man’s wife leaves him, he is then evicted and has is business flounder all the while being constantly penniless.  As he lives on the streets with his young son he sets a goal with overwhelming odds to fail.  What follows is the most motivating and thought-provoking film ever made.


  1. Mystic River



Directed by Clint Eastwood

Starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Robert Wahlberg, Laura Linney, Marcia Gay Harden, Emmy Rossum and Eli Wallach.

A tragic story about three men, when as children who were playing on the street, were all nearly abducted and abused, except for one.  As men, they’ve grown to be a police detective, a blue collar worker and an ex-con, and although they rarely keep in contact, the murder of one of the men’s daughters brings them together again.


  1. Lion King



Directed by Rob Minkoff and Roger Allers.

Starring James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Matthew Broderick, Rowan Atkinson, Cheech Marin, Nathan Lane, and Whoopi Goldberg.

An animated classic about the kingdom of lions on the plains of Africa keeping the balance of the circle of life.  That is until, treachery finds the king and his young son.  After hyenas have taken over the pride land, a prince must become the lion he was supposed to be and save his land, family and friends.


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What is the common theme?  What do they bring up for me?  What it makes me do?  Or Achieve?

Why the Saddest Films of All Time?

This list of the saddest movies of all time all have different underpinning themes with varying forms of anguish that make them sad.

In Schindler’s List you see cruelty and genocide committed by man that is too overbearing to accept.  This movie brings out your love for humanity and the need to help one another, whether someone is a stranger or not.  It certainly pushes me to work so I can earn and therefore give.

Emmy Rossum stars as the girl murdered in Mystic River

Emmy Rossum stars as the girl murdered in Mystic River

My Girl, The Lion King and Mystic River are about death also, but I think it’s a different kind of death.  In comparison to Schindler’s List, whose sorrow is founded upon sheer brutality and massacre, these movies involve the death of a loved one or someone very close.  My Girl has the untimely and tragic death of a young, innocent boy who is heartbreakingly attacked by bees and has an allergic reaction.  Mystic River and The Lion King have commonality is betrayal, murder and dishonesty.

Lastly, The Pursuit of Happyness is not about death but despair, uncompromising despair.  The hardships and battles of someone less fortunate than others, who regardless of his actions, can’t seem to win.

These movies all bring up different feelings for me.  I’ve already stated that Schindler’s List brings out a sense of duty toward your fellow man for me.  But what about the others?

Mystic River and My Girl make me feel sort of the same.  A little depressed.  This may sound strange but I think it’s good because, for one, it’s fake, and secondly, it shakes you out of apathy.  I know myself I can become despondent, unappreciative and insensitive.  These movies want to make me ring up my ex-girlfriend and say sorry, or my mother and say thank-you.

The Pursuit of Happyness was frighteningly, a true story.  Imagine being in that guy’s shoes?  Bugger that.  But that’s just it.  It makes me hustle as to make sure that I never have to work in his shoes because if I did?  I don’t think I would make it.  Kudos to the protagonist Chris Gardener (he is really successful now).

The real Chris Gardner. Inspiration for "Pursuit of Happyness", one of the saddest films of all time.

The real Chris Gardner. Inspiration for “Pursuit of Happyness”, one of the saddest films of all time.


Is what happens in our own lives a factor in what movies affect us so deeply?

I’m going to say a definite yes.  My father who was a prominent, successful businessman in our town passed when I was twelve.  He was highly respected and was seen as a leader and role model.  I can’t help but think of myself as that young lion cub (Lion King) whose father has just been torn out of his life as well.  So this movie inspires me because……I want to be great like my dad.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my pick of the saddest films of all time.  I did shed a few tears in these films and I’m hoping you can understand why.  I suggest you go out and watch them and see if you feel the same.  I’ve tried to unload a bit of my limited, young wisdom as well, in hopes of benefiting someone who needs it.  Find the motivation and use it.


Theme Picture photo credit: Castles, Capes & Clones via photopin cc

Emmy Rossum – photo credit: RedCarpetReport via photopin cc

Chris Gardner – photo credit: dbking via photopin cc


What are your saddest movies of all time?  Do you agree with my list?  

Thanks for reading and feel free to post a comment or question

Cheers MCM’s Rohan.

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