Earlier this year we did a Top 10 post of Movies to Make You Cry. We’re at it again, but this time we’re focusing on animated films that are sure to break your heart, bring tears your eyes, and cause a few sniffles.
The Snowman: A young boy builds a snowman which comes to life and spends a fantastic evening with him. They explore his house and then the snowman takes him on a visit to the North Pole.
What do you think happens the next morning to the snowman? Here’s a hint: It involves your heart melting. There’s also a beautiful song that will bring tears to your eyes. The music really does a great job in bringing life and emotion to the story as there is no dialogue throughout the animation.
Bambi: Bambi is a young deer hailed as the ‘Prince of the Forest’ at his birth. As Bambi grows, he makes friends with the other animals of the forest, in particular a rabbit named Thumper and a skunk named Flower. He learns the skills needed to survive, and he even finds love. One day, however, the human hunters come, and Bambi must learn to be as brave as his father if he is to lead the other deer to safety.*
Not only is there the scene when Bambi loses his mother without even getting to say goodbye, but there’s the pitiful moment when a petrified neurotic bird is killed just for following her instincts to fly and flee from the oncoming threat of a human with a gun. So much sadness.
Grave of the Fireflies: Two orphans in war-time Kobe, Japan, face fire-bombs, hunger, homelessness, and despair as the war and their lives come to an end.
Watership Down: Chronicles the adventures of a group of rabbits searching for a safe place to establish a new warren where they can live in peace.
The Plague Dogs: A fox terrier and a black lab escape from an animal research station where they have been subjected to cruel experiments in the name of science. The opening scene is shocking and upsetting; it actually brought tears of rage to my eyes as a dog was dropped into a tank of water and forced to swim for its life while scientists waited to record how long it could endure before passing out. The film explores deep issues of love, betrayal, and hope as the dogs struggle to survive and to find loving masters, food, and safety while surrounded by a dangerous, cruel world where their lives are constantly threatened.
Charlotte’s Web: Fern is a young farm girl who rescues the runt of the pig litter, Wilbur. Wilbur is saved from certain death and Fern visits him every day at her Uncle Homer’s farm. But it’s Wilbur’s friendship with Charlotte the spider that ultimately saves him from the “smoke house.” Charlotte’s talent for weaving praiseworthy words about Wilbur into her web turns the Zuckerman farm into a tourist attraction.
In between the witty farm animal banter and fun carnival scenes where Wilbur basks in his prize pig status and fame, there are several beautiful and deeply moving songs about the fleeting nature of life. Furthermore, the slaughtering or consumption of animals is handled rather straightforwardly, initially causing Fern and Wilbur a great deal of grief, as one might imagine. However, learning how to deal with painful emotions and how to come to terms with the death of loved ones is a crucial part of growing up and is dealt with thoughtfully and honestly through Wilbur’s emotional journey.
Up: Carl Fredericksen is a 78- year-old curmudgeon. He used to enjoy his modest life as a balloon seller when his adventure-loving wife Ellie was still alive. When she died, Carl was left with his memories and the awareness that they never made their dream journey to Paradise Falls in South America. When well-meaning officials consign Carl to Shady Oaks Retirement Home, he rigs thousands of helium balloons to his house and floats away. He discovers that Russell, a chubby Wilderness Explorer Scout has stowed away. In the tropical jungle, Carl and Russell find more than they bargained for: Charles Muntz, a crazed explorer whose newsreels once inspired Carl and Ellie; Kevin, an exotic bird with a weakness for chocolate; and Dug, an endearing golden retriever fitted with a voice box. More importantly, Carl and Russell discover they need each other
Toy Story 3: As Andy prepares to leave for college, his loyal toys find they have been donated to the Sunnyside Daycare where untamed tots with their sticky little fingers do not play nice. So, it’s all for one and one for all as they join Barbie’s counterpart Ken, a thespian hedgehog named Mr. Pricklepants, and a pink, strawberry-scented teddy bear called Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear to plan their great escape and ensure that no toy gets left behind
All Dogs Go to Heaven: Set in 1939 New Orleans, this colorful, song-filled story centers on Charles B. Barkin, a roguish German Shepherd with a con man’s charm and a marshmallow heart. Out for revenge against his double-crossing former partner, a cigar-chomping Pit Bull named Carface, Charlie finds himself guardian to a lonely little orphan named Anne-Marie.
Iron Giant: A young boy meets a 50 foot tall, steel-eating giant who he tries to keep secret from everyone, including a nosey government agent.
*Sidenote: As a 3-year old, while living in a small Utah farm town (filled with a population of hunters), I was taken to see Bambi in the movie theater. You can imagine the delight of my fellow audience members when during the scene where Bambi is alone and looking for his mother, I stood on the armrests of my chair and shouted, “Bambi! Your mother is dead, the hunter shot her!” -Jenny