Great movies have equally amazing soundtracks. They enhance the emotions in each scene. Yes, direction plays a huge role in the overall outcome. But even the great Steven Spielberg gives credit to his collaborator John Williams’ music for making people cry. A movie forum names the 10 best movie scores that left them utterly emotional.
1. Titanic- James Horner (1997)
Few films have scores as evocative and gorgeously melancholy as Titanic. This award-winning music captures the romantic and utter sadness of the film’s fictional and true events. The instrumentation is reminiscent of Celtic hymns.
And the inclusion of haunting vocals by the soprano Sissel provides that film with its musical heartbeat. Horner’s score can elicit tears whether you are watching the movie or merely listening to the soundtrack. The most emotional cues are “Never An Absolution, “Hymn to the Sea,” and “Unable to Stay, Unwilling to Leave.”
2. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King- Howard Shore (2003)
Every single piece of music composed by Howard Shore for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is masterful. Some pieces are heroic and epic, while others are tense and thrilling. But the music for the third installment, The Return of the King, solidifies the concept that music can profoundly affect a scene.
This film has many tear-inducing moments with music that make them even more emotional. The music cues that make the tears flow the most are “The Return of the King,” which feature happy, wistful, and truly gorgeous versions of the “Fellowship” theme when these heroes are reunited, and when Aragorn tells the hobbits, “You bow to no one.” I can hear this moment and get choked up just imagining it. If you want to cry even more, listen to the cue “The Grey Havens,” a sad but peaceful piece that symbolizes passing onto the afterlife.
3. Finding Neverland- Jan a.p. Kaczmarek (2004)
This biographical film about Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie and the family who changes his life features a light, lilting, melancholy, and emotionally resonant score. The music cues that can elicit tears are the ones tinged with hope and sadness.
Finding Neverland is a sad tale about grief, and Barrie’s Neverland is a place where love and dreams are eternal. Anyone who has dealt with loss will no doubt cry at this resplendent score, especially the cues “The Play and the Flight,” “This is Neverland,” and “Why Does She Have to Die.”
4. Hook- John Williams (1991)
John Williams is a legend and musical genius. Indeed, there are scores one could mention as worthwhile, such as E.T., Schindler’s List, and Saving Private Ryan. But I chose Hook because certain moments in the film tap into deep-seated human emotions about what it means to live, love, grow, and experience life.
And these moments make me cry undoubtedly because of Williams’ music that imbues the scenes with the proper feelings. These include “Remembering Childhood,” “You Are the Pan,” and “Farewell Neverland.” It’s miraculous what Williams can accomplish with his music.
5. Rudy- Jerry Goldsmith (1993)
Some films make us “happy cry” because we witness a character struggle, overcome adversity, and ultimately triumph. One of the finest examples is Rudy, the movie about a young man who dreams of playing football for the University of Notre Dame.
The most emotional music for this film, called “The Final Game,” is a rousing and triumphant score that can make you cry almost instantly. The most tear-inducing when is the film’s theme plays as Rudy is carried off the field, the truest sign of sportsmanship and respect. You don’t have to be a sports fan to be moved by this music.
6. Edward Scissorhands- Danny Elfman (1990)
Edward Scissorhands is a beautiful, whimsical, and sad film about a man named Edward, created by a scientist who passed away before he could make his hands. So he’s left with scissors instead. A story of love and tragedy begins when a family tries to bring him into their neighborhood.
Danny Elfman’s magical score can make me cry from its sheer and utter beauty alone, especially the cue “Ice Dance.” The music is enchanting and the perfect emotional companion to the macabre fairy tale.
7. Apollo 13- James Horner (1995)
The music that can bring forth tears in Apollo 13 does so because it accompanies intense and resonant moments before and after the failed Apollo mission to the moon. This is a masterful film because it can tap into our emotions profoundly, even if we know the outcome of this true story. I knew the story before watching the movie, yet James Horner’s score still had me bawling as we saw the astronauts return safely home.
8. Up- Michael Giacchino (2009)
How many films open with a montage that tells an entire story with just music and pictures that can make the audience cry profusely? That is what Pixar and composer Michael Giacchino accomplish with the first few minutes of Up. “Married Life,” which shows us an entire love story in four minutes, is a deeply affecting artistry that would not be as resonant without Giacchino’s music.
9. Romeo and Juliet-Nino Rota (1968)
Unsurprisingly, a film version of Romeo and Juliet would make audiences cry. After all, it is Shakespeare’s tragic masterpiece. But Nino Rota’s romantic and gorgeous score can also make us feel. The main theme is sumptuous and beautifully captures the tone of the film. It’s also become one of the most recognizable love themes ever.
10. Flyboys- Trevor Rabin (2006)
Some scores have a quality that is difficult to put into words. Such is the case with Trevor Robin’s score for Flyboys, the WWI drama about the volunteer pilots for the Layfette Escadrille in France. If flying through the air had a definitive sound, it would be the music of Flyboys, which truly does soar.
The score is also a seamless companion to all the love-filled, sad, and epic moments of the film. Particularly moving are the cues “Cassidy Funeral,” “Rawlings and Luciane Fly,” and “Battle Hymn.”
This thread inspired this post.
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