Movies are great at provoking horrible and unwanted things called "emotions." These emotions can cause extreme saline discharge from the eyes, hyperventilation, heart palpitations, and in some extreme cases, instant death. If these sound like symptoms you wish to avoid, definitely stay away from the following seven movies, which rank among the most heartbreaking of all time.
One of the earliest tearjerkers, from cinematic pioneer (and sort-of racist) DW Griffith, "Broken Blossoms" tells a tale of doomed love between an American girl and a Chinese man. His unquenchable passion meets with her tragic desire not to be stoned by her white neighbors leads to their love affair never reaching consummation, and they both end up meeting tragic ends as a result of the heightened, melodramatic events that transpire.
"The Passion of Joan of Arc"
Another silent tearjerker, this one from Carl Dreyer, is almost TOO emotional to bear. The cinematic reason for that is simple: Unlike most movies of the day (and now), the movie is composed almost entirely of close-ups. And the tragic story of Joan of Arc is mainlined directly into your eyeballs. You might be surprised by how emotionally involved you get in this silent classic.
"Gone With The Wind"
hijinks and racism: The patriarch of the O'Hara clan, driven mad by the sight of his family and wealth crumbling seemingly overnight, falls off a horse and dies. Later, Scarlet's young daughter falls off a horse and dies. What these narrative events lack in variety they make up for in heartbreaking power.
Funkadelic may claim, sometimes it's a little painful to hit it and quit it. That's the lesson behind "Casablanca," the heartbreaking story behind two people who are clearly meant to be together: Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, but who have to part ways forever for the sake of the greater good.
"The Best Years of Our Lives"
Another heartbreaking drama that hinges on World War II – only this one deals with that war's terrible aftermath at home. The characters of the story fought bravely in the war, but when they come home they find that their welcomes aren't as warm as they might have hoped. They've been replaced in their jobs, their families have gotten used to life without them, and in one particularly sad case, life means having to cope with the loss of both arms.
Roman Polanski's neonoir thriller isn't typically considered a heartbreaker, but consider the ending: A poor, young, and innocent girl's mother has been murdered right in front of her, leaving her in the hands of her demonic and incestuous father/uncle (it's a complicated family setup). The famous last lines implore both protagonist Jake and the audience to "forget it," but that's unlikely to happen any time soon.
"Requiem for a Dream"