Seeing as how we are nearing the end of the 2008 movie
season, I noticed a number of Top 10 lists are starting to make the
rounds.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to
create a list of my favorite movies of the year.  It’s too early for that.  What I will do, though, is count down my own
personal 5 Most Emotional Moments In Film. 

After watching films for as long as I have (the same goes
for many of you), certain scenes become etched into your memory.  They become part of you, proving that even if
the movie itself ages horribly, the moments will tug at the heartstrings until
the day you die.  Every time.  That is the beauty of film.

5: Mikey is consoled by Brand – The Goonies

As is the case with anyone who has siblings, my relationship
with my brother has never been perfect. 
But there are those special little moments that you remember, the ones
that happen when you and your sibling are on the same page.  It’s rare, but when it happens, it’s

The Goonies is a classic about having to grow up even when
you’re not ready.  While the film is
known for a few memorably humorous moments (“Rocky road…”, “Hey you guys!”,
“Hey, Mikey, you hafta go to the bathroom?!”), it’s the scene in which Mikey
looks out onto the neighborhood he grew up in and realizes that he and his
friends are really going to move. 

While the scene leads straight into the main action of the
story, it is also the only moment in which Mikey and his older brother Brand
share a quiet moment together.  Not as
enemies, but as brothers.  Just seeing
Brand turn the corner and embrace a teary eyed Mikey makes you realize that
Spielberg was great (and still is in some respect) at conveying human emotions
through the simple use of body language.  

It is a beautiful scene, which carries a strong emotional
current that doesn’t become apparent until you are capable of understanding the
complex relationship between siblings.

4: Nancy gets angry in a telephone booth – Sid and Nancy

Sid and Nancy is an incredibly heart breaking film.  Not surprising, considering it focuses on two
deeply disturbed, broken and scarred individuals.  There are plenty of horrifically emotional
scenes, but the one that moved me was the brief moment in which Nancy calls her
mum from a phone booth to tell her the great news that she and Sid are getting

Director Alex Cox shot this scene in an interesting fashion
because we only hear Nancy’s side of the conversation.  So as her emotions rise, so does the
audience’s.  Even though we can’t hear
what her mum is saying to her, it’s quite clear that it isn’t good as shown by
Nancy’s emotional reaction.  One moment
she’s happy, the next she begs for forgiveness, only to become spiteful, until
she punches the glass in the phone booth in a fit of uncontrollable rage. 

This is a horrific scene that shows the power of love and

3: Bruce Wayne’s parents are murdered – Batman

Being the film that started my love of cinema, there’s no
question that Tim Burton’s Batman would make it on the list. 

I saw Batman when I was six, a very impressionable
age.  And even though the film is
sprinkled with perverse behavior and grotesque violence, the scene that I still
remember vividly is the moment in which Jack Napier guns down young Bruce
Wayne’s parents.  

Now, for the historians out there crying fowl, yes, I know
Burton played around with the Batman legacy. 
Napier, who would eventually become the Joker, wasn’t the man who
murdered Wayne’s parents (a fact staged beautifully in Nolan’s version), but I
can understand Burton’s motivation. 
Batman and the Joker created each other by different means.  I always found that to be incredibly personal
and highly emotional, which makes the final showdown between the two much more

From time to time, though, I find myself remembering the
first time I saw Batman and the murder of Wayne’s parents in particular.  It is a horrific moment, the kind in which
one would never heal from.  Even at a young
age, it made me ponder a life without my parents or any loved ones for that
matter and it shook me to the core.  Not
bad for just a “comic book movie”.

2: The Terminator says goodbye – Terminator 2: Judgment

This scene still forms a lump in my throat whenever I watch
it.  And while it may seem to be an odd
choice at #2, some fail to understand the emotional complexity that lies behind
James Cameron’s storytelling. 

Terminator 2, at its heart, is about a boy looking for
someone to look up to.  It just so
happens that the lucky bastard meets that person in the form of an
indestructible killing machine (literally). 
For two hours, Cameron has us watch as these two strangers develop a
relationship the likes of which can only end in tragedy.  And it does, just not in the way you’d

After the defeat of the T-1000, the Terminator reveals to
John that in order for him to complete his mission and ensure John’s safety, he
must terminate himself.  The look on
John’s face as the Terminator’s words sink in is something that I can’t even
begin to describe.  It’s earth-shattering
news, made worse by the fact that John has no say in the matter.  This is the moment in which the boy becomes
the man who will go on to lead the human resistance against the machines.

As the Terminator is lowered into the molten metal, he gives
John a final thumb up before he is terminated. 
While to the outsider, the scene might appear to be hokey, it is
actually one that comes full circle, as it is an expression that John taught
the Terminator in order for it to come off as being a little more human.  How fitting is it that the Terminator’s final
moments consisted of showing John that it has the ability to learn and act

As emotional as it is, it is also incredibly
frightening.  Still, this scene proves
that Cameron, while a master and pioneer of special effects, is also a
storyteller in tune with his emotions; a great weapon (if used correctly) for
any filmmaker.

1: John recites the Bible – The Elephant Man

One of the best films ever made, The Elephant Man sheds
some light on the cruelty that some endure simply because they are
different.  What’s more, it is easily
David Lynch’s most accessible work.

After living a life as a freak show attraction, John Merrick
is given the opportunity to experience peace and tranquility in a London hospital
under the watchful eye of Dr. Frederick Treves. 

In this particular segment, Treves is shown teaching John
how to speak in order to impress the hospital’s Governor who has his own
reservations about taking in a man who is “incurable”.  At this point in the picture, John has yet to
speak, so his chances of staying in the hospital grow dimmer by the

When the Governor finally arrives, John’s appointment with
him ends horribly, leading Treves to believe that he made the wrong decision in
trying to care for him.  As the Governor
and Treves discuss John’s future outside his door, John begins to recite the 23rd
Psalm.  Almost immediately, Treves, the
Governor and we, the audience, look at John in a different light. 

This is a beautiful moment that encompasses the true power
of human understanding and forgiveness and is one that undoubtedly deserves to
be on the top of my list of 5 of the most emotional scenes of all time.