I am a weeper. Art can move me to tears.
Julia Keller, in her Chicago Tribune article, “Our Sob Stories,”
January 8, 2009, discusses how entertainment can make us cry. In an adjoining story, artists were asked what art made them cry. The two articles made me think about which artworks touch me.
The first work that comes to mind is Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac. In Act III, Cyrano wins the love of Roxane by his words as he stands under her balcony in the shadows. He—and I—weep when Christian climbs to take the kiss that Cyrano has won. In the last act, having spent 15 years visiting Roxane every week but unable to confess he was the man she loved, Cyrano comes one last time. He has been mortally wounded, but comes to her from his death bed to say one final goodbye. And as he reads the last letter he had written for Christian, she realizes that it was him that she loved. This clip, from the 1990 French film, shows the power of Rostand’s words, whether you understand French or not. [If you want to read the scene in English, try here.]
I have directed Our Town twice. During the rehearsal of the second production, my father committed suicide. The final act of the play took on special meaning as I pondered what lay beyond. Wilder sees our post-existence as a waiting, a “waiting for the non-eternal part of us to burn off.” And when Emily decides to return to view her 12th birthday, all the pain of failing to see what’s around each of us draws heavy tears of loss. Here is one production's take on that scene.
One of the most powerful productions I have seen (four times and counting) is the musical Les Miserables. Much of the production has me in tears, partially from the power of Hugo’s story of sin and redemption and the equally powerful music.
These clips, from the 10th anniversary production, move me immensely.
I Dreamed a Dream
Do You Hear the People Sing
One Day More
Movies find me an easy mark. This year’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Slumdog Millionarie, and Milk all had me reaching for Kleenex.
For years I showed Katherine Hepburn in The Lion in Winter and wept at the pain she shows as Eleanor of Aquitaine losing the one man she loved, Henry II.
Then we have Titanic. With the images of the ship sailing out to sea, my fountains started and since I had read volumes about the tragedy, each nod to a real person that Cameron added, evoked the tears. From the time the ship began sinking until the end, my vision was pretty much blurred. As I was looking back at images, I find even the trailer (I have to admit MANY trailers) gets to me.
Even a parody trailer can do it. This is a sequel to Titanic I’d love to see.
When Brokeback Mountain came out I wrote here in my blog about the film. With the death of Heath Ledger, the film becomes even more poignant.
Last season’s AMC's Mad Men, often brought tears—whether it was the pain of watching Joan accept the rape of her fiancé or Don’s inability to say in words the depth of feeling that he conveys in subtlities. BBC’s Torchwood had an episode where Jack meets the man he took his name from and as the two grow close, he realizes that Captain Jack has to die. For those who know the series, that episode along with the character’s relationship to Lanto moves me.
As a singer, I often find music touching my soul. Listen to Judy Collins sing Song for Sarajevo (I Dream of Peace).
One of the songs my choir sang at concert was Flanders Fields by Paul A. Aitken. I had to fight while singing it not to react.
Finally, perhaps it’s the Irish in me that is always moved by a well done version of Danny Boy. Here’s one done by Michael Londra from his cd Celt who gives one of the most touching versions I’ve heard of it.
What works move you?