Get your hankie! 2005’s saddest film moments
WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! If you’re not ready for key details about these movies, or if you just want to stay in your happy place, skip this article.
8. King Kong: The fatal plunge. You know from the beginning that the behemoth is going down, and that the couple will be separated forever, but still you weep as it happens. It’s like Titanic, only without the Celine Dion song.
7. A History of Violence: The final scene. Using a gift for brutality that endangered his loved ones in the first place, Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) saves his family but damns himself. Despite his silent reunion with his wife and kids around the family dinner table, it’s clear that he will be forever isolated from them.
6. Hustle & Flow: Skinny Black tosses DJay’s demo tape. The whole movie builds up to the moment when pimp-turned-rapper DJay (Terrence Howard) tries to turn his life around by passing his demo tape to successful hip-hopper Skinny Black (Ludacris). When DJay is suddenly rejected by his new benefactor, the disappointment is crushing. His over-the-top response is hard to justify but all too easy to understand.
5. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: The ritual slaughter of Aslan. The noble lion willingly sacrifices himself to counteract the betrayal by Edmund (Skandar Keynes), allowing himself to be shorn, shamed, and slaughtered. It’s like a PG-rated version of The Passion of the Christ. Though Aslan’s demise is followed minutes later by a resurrection, you’ll still watch — as little Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Susan (Anna Popplewell) do — with a sense of helpless horror and despair.
4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The murder of kind and decent Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson). It’s the darkest moment up to that point in the Potter saga, as Harry experiences the death of someone close to him for the first time since he lost his parents. Meanwhile, he’s forced to confront just how deadly his nemesis Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is, and how likely it is that their clash may claim the lives of more innocents.
3. March of the Penguins: The frozen egg. There are a lot of sad moments in this documentary, as the unforgiving environment exacts its toll on the struggling birds, but none so visually stark as the moment when that lost egg cracks, its fissures fill with ice crystals, and the embryo inside freezes to death before it has a chance to live.
2. Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith: The denouement. It’s sad enough to watch as Padme (Natalie Portman) dies in childbirth, Anakin (Hayden Christensen) nearly dies and is reborn as Darth Vader, and Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) successfully seizes power to become emperor. Sadder still for a generation of moviegoers is the realization that the screen saga they’ve followed for 28 years is finished — these cherished movie characters now belong irrevocably, like childhood, to the past.
1. Brokeback Mountain: The final scene. With his 20-year affair with Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) over forever, Ennis (Heath Ledger) visits Jack’s boyhood bedroom and finds only a few artifacts, including a familiar shirt. ”Jack, I swear…” is all the sentiment the taciturn cowpoke can find the wherewithal to express, but audiences compensate by letting the tears flow for him.