What Was the First Movie That Made You Cry?

In this Academy Originals video, a number of acclaimed actors and filmmakers weigh in on the first movies that made them cry:

When you step back and think about it, it's amazing that film as a medium can literally bring people to tears. What we are seeing on screen is a complete fabrication — it's actors playing characters on fake sets with props. Yet if you're doing your job well, you can make people forget they're watching a movie. 

I'm not quite sure I remember the first movie, but I know one of the earlier ones is certainly Field of Dreams (mentioned by director Brian Percival in the clip above). Specifically, it's the moment when Ray has this final conversation with his Dad and asks if he'd like to play catch (I would imagine plenty of you get a little choked during this scene as well). It's a beautiful moment punctuated by the gorgeous score from the late James Horner:

How about you, what's the first movie that made you cry, or at least the first one you can remember?     

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22 Comments

I think the first one was Stand by Me. I watched it as a little kid and It was all so dangerous and yet they mostly didn't seem any braver than I was. They each acted so fully and nuanced. Richard Dreyfuss' ending narration sealed the tears.

but the first movie to completely overwhelm me with tears was Dead Poets Society. My face was drenched and I felt like Ethan Hawkes character completely bereft and angry and devastated. To this day, when I hear the score, I start to tear up, if not fully cry.

November 15, 2015 at 9:54PM, Edited November 15, 9:54PM

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Izzy Anthony
Actor, writer
91

It's a Wonderful Life. Right at the end. "Atta boy, Clarence." Christ, always gets me.

November 16, 2015 at 3:26AM

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Graham Hughes
Writer/Director
95

The first one would probably be Balto or The Lion King. Not sure which one I watched first. In live action -- Philadelphia. I still remember watching in on the TV with my father, not really comprehending what was going on, but completely gripped by the film and the performances. And Neil Young's Philadelphia at the end, that's what got me.

November 16, 2015 at 7:34AM

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I'm pretty sure the first movie to make me cry was Mighty Joe Young, when Joe tries to save the boy from the ferris wheel and you think he dies.

November 16, 2015 at 7:55AM

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Matilyn Ozment
Video Producer
74

"My Girl". I'm sure I cried at something before that like "Bambi" or ET or something, but "My Girl" was the first one I remember. Just balling.

November 16, 2015 at 12:40PM, Edited November 16, 12:40PM

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Michael Markham
Actor/Filmmaker
980

My Girl -- me, too. Absolutely!

November 17, 2015 at 5:26PM

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Benjamin Reichman
Post Supervisor/AE/Editor
373

I dropped a tear watching Black Beauty. ok... I said it. Hey, I was just a boy.

November 16, 2015 at 3:43PM, Edited November 16, 3:43PM

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Tom Brown
Photographer
351

I still can't watch it without crying.

November 17, 2015 at 11:14PM

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The Shawshank Redemption

November 17, 2015 at 4:38AM

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Richard de William
Photographer
74

The Abyss.

November 17, 2015 at 8:30AM, Edited November 17, 8:30AM

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Justin Gladden
Producer
636

I don't know about first (though probably pretty close). The 1994 version of Black Beauty, still can't watch it without crying.

November 17, 2015 at 11:10PM

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The Pursuit of Happiness

November 18, 2015 at 2:42AM

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John Steward
Beginner in Photography
74

Elephant Man FTW! :)

I saw Elephant Man in the theater when I was a child. Yeah...people were getting up, crying as they left the theater. They couldn't hang.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqg7Ow4SNk8

November 18, 2015 at 3:07AM, Edited November 18, 3:07AM

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Film Voltage
Director
374

I can't possibly remember the first one, but I the last movie that made me cry was Saya-zamurai by Hitoshi Matsumoto. The last 10 minutes really are something.

November 18, 2015 at 11:28AM, Edited November 18, 11:28AM

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David R. Falzarano
Director / Writer / Editor
1487

Big Fish, I think. I always tried to be that stubborn kid who never cried during movies, but Big Fish changed all that.

November 18, 2015 at 4:07PM

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Caity McCinick
Writer/Filmmaker
227

Five movies, all starring Robin Williams.
What Dreams May Come,
Bicentennial Man,
A.I. Artificial Intelligence,
The Final Cut,
and
Awakenings.

What Dreams May Come leaves me drenched in tears every single time.

47 Ronin brings tears, it's such a terrible tradgedy, and it's a true story.

November 19, 2015 at 7:31PM

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I remember seeing a movie on Christmas Day when I was little, not sure what age, about Jesus being crucified. I knew he did it for me and it made me cry. I knew right then it was the Truth.

Flame away, those who hate/deny Him. I know you can't help yourself.

November 19, 2015 at 9:54PM, Edited November 19, 9:58PM

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JAY T
248

Evil Dead II

November 20, 2015 at 10:40AM, Edited November 20, 10:40AM

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Star Wars when I realized Jar Jar was a main character...

On a more serious note, I don't remember the first movie that made me cry but The Incredibles when they are in the jet and she's trying to save her kids from the missiles made me tear up.

I didn't cry when I saw them as a kid, but I bet Old Yeller and Where the red fern grows would do it for me now.

November 20, 2015 at 9:41PM, Edited November 20, 9:41PM

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Ryan Gudmunson
Recreational Filmmaker
882

I remember perfectly. Final sequences (crucifixion scenes) of "SPARTACUS", by Master Stanley Kubrick directing an excelent batch of actors, like Kirk Douglas and many others.

November 21, 2015 at 11:38AM, Edited November 21, 11:38AM

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ANGELO SANDE
Independent Movie Maker
81

The Titanic.

November 22, 2015 at 4:12AM

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Emeka Akwuobi
Filmaker/Editor and other stuff
173

My dog skip made me cry! I swear with every movie it's always the animals that get you! A 100 people could be killed in a film, but if someone kills a dog--IT'S ON!

November 27, 2015 at 8:59AM

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Tom Doherty
Filmmaker
345