In my internet findings yesterday, I discovered a list, courtesy of HelloGiggles, that talked about scenes in films that are so bleak and sad that their mere existence is enough to cause one to turn the film off and have a good cry. Naturally, because I'm into depressing shit, I glanced at the films Laura Kadner, the writer, had chosen, and afterwards, let out a small groan. All five of these films/TV shows centered around animals, and were for children (I'm counting Futurama, because I totally watched it as a kid, way before it was appropriate for me), and while each entry is pretty sad in its own right, #5 especially, as someone who has seen his fair share of bleak, tragic, cruelly melancholic films, the list left something to be desired. While I can't say that I've seen every depressing film ever made, I've seen a lot, and after watching them, I'd much rather have a horse drown than see the shit I saw again. I ranked these on amount of tears shed, and how empty I felt after the film/show. Enjoy if you can, and expect spoilers, even though I try not to go too far into detail.
5) Au Revoir, Les Enfants
For just about every Jew alive, not to mention many other groups of people, The Holocaust is a difficult and upsetting subject to face, because it claimed so many lives, and was mandated by the government. Millions were murdered, and the scars from that time still ache. When it comes to films about the Holocaust, there are quite a number, all of which differ in quality and story, but the one that sticks with me is Au Revoir, Les Enfants, Louis Malle's autobiographical story of two boys who become friends at a Catholic boys' school during the war, one who is Catholic, one who is Jewish. As the film evolves, so does their relationship, and the war, as well. The final scene of the film is where the main character accidentally betrays his best friend. Since we all know what happened in The Holocaust, you can guess what happens, but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow. Even worse is that the protagonist is a young Louis Malle, so when you realize that this actually happened, that, for the rest of his life, Malle had to live with this burden hanging over his head, it's even more tragic.
4) The Seventh Continent
Michael Haneke's films are never pleasant experiences, that's a guarantee. His detachment from his stories allows a clinical, and uncomfortable approach to telling a story, and emphasize how mundane and ordinary these people are, making their pain our pain as well. Having seen nearly all of his films, I can say, with full certainty, that his bleakest, most unforgiving film is his first film, The Seventh Continent.Continent is about the death of a dream, about one family trying to escape their lives in Austria by moving to Australia, but being consumed by themselves, and the impossibility of it all. For those who have seen this film, the scene in question is quite obvious, as it shows the family destroying everything that they own, robotically, and devoid of any emotion. That is, until one small accident. It's a film I tell many of my friends to see, but warn them that they will not enjoy it in the slightest, and after watching it, will probably feel awful and worn out, emotionally. Even I can't bring myself to watch it again.
3) Dear Zachary
There's no easy way to say this: Dear Zachary is a cruel, cruel film. It's cruel because it tells a story that is awful, and upsetting, and entirely true. It's a film that we want to jump into and save, but know that we can't, and coping with that is truly aggravating. This one I'm not going to go into too much detail over, but will say that the film, as the subtitle proclaims: 'A Letter to a Son About His Father'. The father, in question, was murdered, and the story is about his friends and family coping, but also banding together and fighting for the child, who will never know his father. If that doesn't tear you up, then the twist, which occurs later in the film, will destroy you. Make you want to hurt everything and scream. It's depressing because it shows that good people don't get to have happy lives, that the worst people can still go by undetected, and the right people, those in charge of the government, can make grave mistakes. Watch it, but know that you're going to want to punch something when this scene occurs.
When thinking about depressing films, and scenes that slayed my emotions, nothing comes close to Wit, a film that is so good, and yet, I have trouble bringing myself to watch it a second time. Mixing humor with tragedy, Wit is the story of Vivian Bearing, played exquisitely by Emma Thompson, an erudite English professor who discovers that she has ovarian cancer, and from there, you can probably see where this is going. The scene that ruins my happiness, that takes my heart and stomps on it, involves Vivian and her mentor, a woman who is much like Bearing, except she was able to have a family, a thing Vivian lost when devoting her time to her studies. Instead of read John Donne to comfort her dying pupil, the woman reads to her the story of The Runaway Bunny, and for ten minutes, all I can do is sob. It's a simple scene, but fuck, it's heavy. Everyone I know who's seen this film agree that it's probably the saddest thing they've ever seen.
1) Six Feet Under-"Everybody's Waiting"
While it's flawed, and slightly melodramatic in its fourth and fifth seasons, Six Feet Under is, and may always be, my favorite television show, ever. Over the course of five seasons, I grew to love the Fisher family, and the other characters, and felt like they were real people. So when it came time to watch the series finale, it really, really hurt, because I knew that it would be the last time I would see these people. That their stories were over, and that I would have to accept the end of the series, like the many people on the show had to accept the deaths of their loved ones. The finale is perfect because, unlike every other episode of the series, it starts with a life, rather than a death, and the rest of the episode is devoted to tying up loose ends, and making sure that everything that can be resolved is resolved. And in a very Six Feet Under fashion, we watch as all of our favorite characters die, each way different from the last. It's bad enough watching one character we deeply loved pass away a few episodes prior, but to have all of them die is just unbearable. Yet, as we watch these people die, through a curtain of tears, Sia's now ubiquitous but still perfect song 'Breathe Me' playing in the background, we remember that every day alive is a blessing, and that we can never truly predict when we'll pass on. It's soul crushing to think about death for so long, but you leave the show feeling enlightened, happy to be alive, and glad that you stuck with this show until the very end. For all its imperfections, it redeems itself in the end, and leaves the only way that it could have.