Goodbye. There is nothing worse and sadder than those seven letters you could ever find in the English dictionary. The pain of having to lose someone forever and leaving behind a long, beautiful lane of memories are beyond words. It’s a universal phenomenon that most people find hard not to relate to and cinema being the most powerful form of art, has often shattered hearts with scenes that delve into the deepest pains of parting ways with someone. With that said, here is a list of tear jerker movies with goodbye scenes. Keep your tissues close. You can watch some of these best tear jerkers on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
15. Rain Man (1988)
I have seen ‘Rain Man’ twice and I still don’t think the film as a whole moved me in a way I would have loved it to. Dustin Hoffman is unsurprisingly good but has been better. Tom Cruise is sensational and delivers what is perhaps the finest performance of his career. But the closing scene of the film always gets me and is one of the most beautifully restrained emotional movie moments I’ve ever seen. Charlie’s character transformation forms the heart and soul of the film and the entire film leads up to that moment as we see Charlie bidding goodbye to his lovely brother who is taken back by authorities of the mental institution and Charlie promises him that he will visit him in two weeks time. It’s a beautifully shot, brilliantly acted scene in an otherwise forgettable film that stays long in our minds after the credits have rolled out.
14. Good Will Hunting (1997)
There are some films you are unwilling to analyse, dissect or criticise despite knowing their flaws because it has affected you in many ways on a deeply personal level. ‘Good Will Hunting’ is that film for me. It can be quite preachy at times but I can just close my eyes and let all of its flaws slide by because this is a film enriched with a rare sense of warmth that makes you want to embrace it in all its frailties. The film tells the story of Will, a mathematical prodigy with a troubled background, striving hard to confront his own self and running away from the emotional chains of relationships and human bond. The scene in reference here is the one where his best buddy tells him that he just wishes he gets out from the very life that he’s living in and how he wishes there never really would be any sort of “goodbyes” or “see you later” between them. The most beautiful part about the ending is that there’s no goodbye here. Like his friend said, he leaves with no message.
13. Kramer vs Kramer (1979)
This is a very personal choice but I could never live with the thought of ignoring the beautiful moment that Dustin Hoffman shares with his 6 year old son as his little boy is ready to leave for his mom’s place. What works brilliantly in ‘Kramer vs Kramer’ is the development of the father-son relationship. We see Hoffman’s character going through various ups and downs in his life but holds onto his boy and before he realises, becomes everything to him which makes the scene in reference a very intimate and emotional one. Hoffman really has a way with moving us to tears every time and this scene where he bids goodbye to his son, is just a testament to the fact that he is one of the greatest actors to have ever graced the screen.
12. Boyhood (2014)
I don’t mind if I seem to go a bit overboard here but nobody could ever observe life with such deep insights and portray it on screen with an unmatched level of simplicity and warmth as Richard Linklater does. His 2014 magnum opus, ‘Boyhood’, is a culmination of his inspiring artistic genius and life-long thematic obsessions of passage of time in human lives. ‘Boyhood’ observes 12 years in the life of a six year old boy, Mason, as Linklater gets his actors to age in real time, bringing in a hitherto unmatched sense of realism on-screen. As Mason grows up he prepares to leave home for college and on the day he leaves, there’s a touching moment when he bids goodbye to his mother as she painfully complains of how time has passed by rather quickly and could hardly realise the growth of her own child and the flailing nature of human relationships.
11. Cast Away (2000)
Remember the time when Tom Hanks brought tears to our eyes when he bid goodbye to his beloved Wilson? For people who haven’t seen the movie, and I am assuming that’s just a small number there, Wilson is a volleyball. Yes, you heard it right! A volleyball. Robert Zemckis’ searing tale of hope, survival, love and self-discovery has one of the most iconic goodbye quotes in movie history. Tom Hanks’ Chuck Noland is stranded on a desolated island after surviving a plane crash and is left with no one to talk except a volleyball, whom he names Wilson, that he finds from one of his packages which was to be delivered. He grows increasingly close with Wilson but as fate would have it Chuck is left all alone in the island on a bright sunny day when a fierce storm washes Wilson away from the shores. A heartbreaking moment of a hapless cry that so beautifully encapsulates the human longing for companionship and bonding.
10. Gone With the Wind (1939)
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!” Who could possibly ever forget those daring, unapologetic words delivered with searing aplomb and absolute swag by the legendary Clarke Gable? ‘Gone With the Wind is not a film I enjoy but it gives me a glimpse of its time and despite the movie looking dated for the most part, still works because of the universality and dynamics of human emotions and relationships that still, somehow, remains the same. The goodbye scene here is brutal and hard-hitting but what makes the it so powerful is how Vivien Leigh’s character decides to get hold of herself and goes about looking for an optimistic tomorrow instead of drowning herself in pain and misery.
9. Lost in Translation (2003)
Sofia Coppola’s heart-warming romantic drama is one of the finest American movies to have come out of the 21st century. Her characters often feel detached, which fails to work at some places in the movie but there is absolutely no denying that the film is replete with some of the most touching scenes you’ll ever see. There’s a poignantly sweet goodbye scene towards the film’s ending when Bill Murray’s character bids goodbye to her in the hotel room and leaves for the airport but gets off in the middle of the city when he sees her and whispers in her ears for about a couple of minutes. Coppola doesn’t let the audience know what exactly he whispers, creating a refreshingly beautiful sense of ambiguity that might just sum up their relationship. But Coppola lets her audience draw their own interpretations of her lead characters. Maybe it was a goodbye, maybe it was a confession of love, maybe it was a phone number exchange, but the beauty is…We don’t know!
8. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Unsurprisingly, Steven Spielberg has another entry on this list. Perhaps a childhood favourite for most people out there, ‘E.T’ is storytelling magic at its absolute zenith. Around three and a half decades back, Spielberg’s lovely little alien made the world fall for him and there are few people who wouldn’t have this film close to their hearts. The closing scene is one of the most heart-wrenching scenes I’ve ever come across in cinema as Spielberg crafts a moment that would live on for the ages. E.T bids goodbye to his best friend on the planet and leaves forever to the outer space. ‘E.T.’ showed us the power of friendships and the pain of separation and longing for companion long before we grew up into the pseudo intellectual society that has consumed every bit of our existence today.
7. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
Milos Forman’s greatest work is a love letter to the undying spirits of the human nature and its painful endeavour to fight the oppressive forces in the society that wreck the slightest bits of humanity into bits and pieces of shattered dreams and hopes. Featuring one of cinema’s most iconic performances from the great Jack Nicholson as Randle McMurphy, ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ is one of those rare films that must be watched by people across the world regardless of age, race and culture. The final scene has the lovely Chief bidding goodbye to his lobotomised friend. Chief liberates his friend from perennial suffering and himself from the clutches of a tyrannical power which his beloved buddy fought for. And if this ending does not bring a lump in your throat, then I honestly don’t know what else would.
6. Stand By Me (1986)
It might not be a surprise if the write up for this film seems pretty short because I genuinely do not have words to express the kind of emotions that this scene and the film evoke in me. ‘Stand By Me’ is arguably the best coming of age drama of all time. It’s a film that speaks for all generations, transcending time and culture in a way that not many films do. The scene where Gordie and Chris part ways and say goodbye to each other is an astonishingly beautiful and poignant scene that is sure to water your eyes as the voice-over in the background reveals what will happen to his best buddy in a few years time.
5. Manhattan (1979)
Few films have had the kind of impact on me such as this Woody Allen gem. ‘Manhattan’ is an absolutely gorgeous cinematic blend of life, relationships and human desires that serves as a delectable meal for a cinephile’s unquenchable hunger to devour the most profound works of art. The final scene is one of sad realisation that turns out to bit too late in life’s cruel game of fate and destiny. Issac finally realises what he’s been missing all his life and confesses his true love for Tracy but is unsure of himself and is shamed by the fragility of his faith in people. Tracy bids goodbye to him and leaves for London as Issac is silenced by his inability to confront his own frailties and accepts the truth about himself and smiles in a way he has never before.
4. Before Sunrise (1995)
A tad naive, a tad childish, a tad funny and a tad sentimental goodbye to see off the most memorable night two twenty somethings could possibly ever have. These are the emotions that Jesse and Celine evoke in us towards the ending in the first part of Richard Linklater’s unforgettable walk and talk romance trilogy. Following a classic, almost dream-like storyline for lovers, Linklater crafts a magical cinematic whisper of love, life and nostalgia. ‘Before Sunrise’ has Jesse and Celine meeting on a train, talking to each other about their childhood, dreams,fears and desires and eventually growing closer to each other only to find them inseparable in the next morning. As the sun rises, they prepare to leave for their own countries, ensuring they meet again after six months at the same place where they are parting.
3. Casablanca (1942)
Is there anyone in the world who does not like this film? ‘Casablanca’ is one of those rare films which is nearly impossible to hate and one that has stood the test of time. The film tells the story of an American expatriate torn between the love for his woman and helping her husband fight against the brutal Nazi forces. In one of the most quoted scenes of all time, Rick tells his former love to leave and that she would regret it had she chosen to stay. It’s a sacrifice and Rick knows what’s best for both of them, which is, parting ways and accepting their new lives. People say the greatness of love lies in your ability to sacrifice than snatch and ‘Casablanca’ is just the finest example of love at its purest and most profound.
2. Schindler’s List (1993)
Steven Spielberg has mastered the art of breaking his viewers into tears almost invariably. Right from ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’, Spielberg has nearly touched all walks of life with a certain warmth and humanity that just blanket you with a sense of love, care and hope in the most distressing times. ‘Schindler’s List’ has Spielberg at his artistic peak and is the cinematic culmination of the most endearing Spielberg-ian qualities that make him the most humane director of his time. Towards the end of the film, there’s the iconic scene where Schindler prepares to leave the country, his beloved people and fond memories behind as the most inhuman time in human history has torn apart almost all sense of hope that helps people survive the toughest times. Schindler paved the way for hope and dreams for millions but his obsession for humanity continues to haunt him relentlessly as he could never live with the thought of not being able to save one more human being from the brutalities of an inhuman rule, making this scene one of the most emotionally powerful scenes in cinema history.
1. Sophie’s Choice (1982)
Some movies are too painful to even talk about and Alan J. Pakula’s ‘Sophie’s Choice’ is exactly that kind of film. Featuring one of the greatest acting performances of all time by the great Meryl Streep, ‘Sophie’s Choice’ tells the story of its titular character who shares a house with her tempestuous lover and a young, charming writer. As the three get along with each other, disturbing secrets of Sophie’s haunting past claw its way on to their lives. In what could arguably be regarded as the most heartbreaking scene in cinema history, a scene from flashback shows Sophie left with the choice of having to pick between her kids. Sophie lets the Nazi guards take her little girl away from her as she watches her fading out in a silent outburst of unimaginable pain and heartbreak.
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