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  • It's normal to think that we'll cry when sad stuff happens on screen:

  • when a character we've come to like dies;

  • when a relationship we wanted to believe in falls apart;

  • when a favorite animal doesn't make it.

  • Of course, we do sometimes shed tears here, but the odd thing is, especially the older we get, we start crying not when things are horrible, one toughens up a little,

  • but when there's suddenly, and unexpectedly, precisely the opposite, when they're unusually sweet, tender, joyful, innocent, or kind.

  • And the little one is Beatrice.

  • Ah, Beatrice! She's got a mischievous glint in her eye, hasn't she?

  • Yeah, unbelievable.

  • Napkins.

  • Okay, 33 seconds.

  • For example, when a rather gruff, distant father shows vulnerability:

  • "I'm proud of you, Flint. I'm amazed that someone as ordinary as me could be the father of someone as extraordinary as you."

  • When two lovers who'd been rowing make it up.

  • When a child says something incredibly sweet and innocent.

  • I'm really good.

  • When someone is so tender with somebody else.

  • Far more than grimness, it's a particular grace and loveliness which can, for a moment, feel heartbreaking.

  • We're crying, not because something sad has happened on the screen,

  • but because what's so lovely on screen is nudging us to realize, semi-consciously, that some pretty sad things have been happening in our lives.

  • The loveliness is drawing our attention to some of the struggles we face and to some of the things we really want but are finding it so hard to get:

  • Reconciliation, forgiveness, tenderness, an end to the fighting, a chance to say sorry.

  • We start to cry at a brief vision of a state of grace from which we're exiled most of the time.

  • We ache for all the lost innocence of the world.

  • Loveliness and goodness can make the actual ugliness of our existence all the more vivid.

  • That's also why, if we were to consider the unusual project of creating a robot that could cry at the movies, we would have to do something apparently rather cruel.

  • We would have to ensure that this robot knew all about suffering, for it's only against a background of pain, that beautiful scenes in films become deeply moving, rather than merely nice.

  • Our tears are telling us something key: That our lives are tougher than they used to be when we were little, and that our longing for uncomplicated niceness and goodness is correspondingly all the more intense.

  • But when Johnny lifts her at the end...

  • No, I know, it's very moving.

  • If you tell anyone, I'll kill you.

  • Yeah, understood, yeah, 100%.

It's normal to think that we'll cry when sad stuff happens on screen:

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B1 UK beatrice screen robot innocent grace goodness

When and Why We Cry in Films

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    劉宜佳 posted on 2016/04/04
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