It was cold and dark and I was still and as motionless as I could, my eyelids won’t blink for a moment. The sad scene just slowed down to capture the expression of every individual on the screen separately. The protagonist Aman was a terminally-ill patient suffering from cardiac disease and was at his death bed in the hospital. He seemed dying. There’s a faint call from his mother: “Aman, Aman…” a continuous heart beat and the piano playing the sad music-Kal Ho Na Ho on the back ground. Aman slowly opens his eyes and his mother tells “Sab milne aaye hain” (lit. everyone’s here to see you). He sees the room filled with familiar faces who came to visit him during his final moments. There’s Jenny, Gia’s brother Shiv, Jenny’s mother-n-law, Lajjo, Sweetu, Jazz, Chadda uncle, Rohit and Naina. Tears of sadness rolled down from his eye as he waves to little Gia. She has got him a flower. Naina leans over to say something but couldn’t utter a word and runs out of the room. Rohit asks him “how are you feeling?” “Fantastic” replied Aman, and further adds, “Rohit, iss janam main Naina tumhari, lekin agle har janam main, har zindagi main woh meri hogi.” (lit. Rohit, for this life, Naina is your’s but for all the next lives and every life after, she’ll be mine).
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My lips and throat were dry, my head heavy, it wasn’t normal. I just blinked and the tears spread all over. That emotional moment was too strong and left a lot of water works in the eyes of everyone else who were there in the movie hall. Such tear jerking scene with emotional moments and the iconic performance are too hard to bear. So why do we cry while watching movies when we know that this is not real and is as fictional as it could get. Can all movies make us cry? Or does everyone who watches a sad movie cry? Do we really have to cry? That’s a lot of question we need to figure out.
A lot of movies are so well made that they have the power to move us with their emotional scenes. Some of these movies not only have the abilities to touch us but sometimes it hit the viewers in such a way that it brings tears in our eyes, especially when it’s a sad scene being depicted on the screen. As I did some research on this topic, I came to know that there are three types of tears all of which are activated through different stimuli. Let’s read it as a general knowledge and not from a scientific perspective.
Basal Tears- There is a Lacrimal gland in each eye which sits between the eye ball and the eye lid. The job for this gland is to produce and drain tears to keep the cornea from drying out. The Lacrimal gland release a drop and when you blink, you spread the tear to keep the cornea moist and wet.
Reflex Tears- This happens when irritants like smoke or dust get into your eyes or when you chop onions. The Lacrimal glands release the disinfecting liquid to wash off the irritants resulting into teary eyes.
Emotional Tears- Crying is a very normal part of life and can be quite distressful relief. Your tears are literally carrying away stress hormones. The limbic system in the brain responsible for all emotional aspects of behavior and hypothalamic structures are interconnected with each other. Whether you are really ecstatic or grief-stricken, these two systems process the intense emotion, activating the autonomous nervous system, the one you cannot control. The process causes heart rate to quicken and leaves you with tears which contains stress hormone (ACTC) and encephalin (a natural pain killer).
When a movie has a sad or emotional scene, we copy and mimic what we see. We feel with the character. When something miserable and tragic happens with the character and with the addition of an equally sad music we cry. That tear could be related with some personal memories or despair of our own. Experts explain that those who cry tend to have something called Empathy. You are empathetic if you feel for other people, their trauma, the heartbreaking or their miserable life. If you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes and feel their pain, it says something about you. Caring about other’s pain takes a lot of strength, so there’s nothing to feel ashamed about or get embarrassed when you weep watching movies. A lot of others haven’t really cultivated this feeling and that is why some people cry more easily than others watching the same story. Whether it is fictional or based on real life event, relating to a character shows you have a heart. You are able to follow their struggles and sorrows and offer certain understandings. You are being empathetic and are broken down. Some of you may cry because the film may bring back painful memories of your own, or may just be overwhelmed with the artistic genius of a film. A work of art that moves you to the point that you’re having both physical and emotional symptoms.
Film makers knows how to play and portray the sad scenes for the audience. They’d make them feel compassionate for the character, make his life even harder and hopeless and throw in a sad note of the theme music which is already established in the listener’s mind. What’s left behind is a strong effect in your mind and a lot of emotional tears. Such scenes would always be sequenced after about half of the movie has past or nearing the end of the movie, by when you’d have known the characters very well.
In The Pursuit of Happyness, at one point Chris Gardner was homeless and was forced to stay in a restroom. His son Christopher Jr. was asleep with head on his father’s lap. And there was some one knocking the door from outside. He was in tears and he couldn’t have allowed any one to come in that night. That was some intense and tearful scene that you sure connected with, was touched by his struggles and agony and had some empathy for the character.
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Therefore it is perfectly okay to be moved, touched, feel pity for and shed some emotional tears. Movies after all are narrations of stories and what good movie it will be if it cannot spark our emotions with its grief and get us to immerse ourselves into it through out leaving us cold and still, motionless in the dark hall. Tears rolling from the audience’s eyes…