FEATURE: The Hierophant's Top 5 Emotional Outbursts In Film/Television

In the inaugural "Top 5," I compile my personal greatest "emotional outbursts" ever put on film or television. Has your favorite scene made the cut? Read on to find out..

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By TheHierophant - 12/9/2012
       It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I love movies and TV. There are quite a few reasons that I enjoy movies/TV so much – the stories, the sets, the effects, the escapism – but chief among these reasons is the emotional response any given performance or story can evoke from a person. It’s this reason that pulls you into the movie and makes you truly believe and care about these characters. In short, it makes you forget that you are watching a movie at all.

       Before I proceed, I’d like to point out that a “crying scene” or “sad scene” doesn’t necessarily equal an “emotional outburst.” What I was looking for when compiling this list were scenes that draw you in and produce empathy from the viewer. Scenes involving happiness, anger, or sadness apply equally to this list. Without further ado, let’s get to it.

~Honorable Mention~
Dr. Taub Mourns His Friend
House M.D.: Season 5, Episode 9 – “A Simple Explanation” (2009)




Out of context, this is probably means nothing to you. As most fans will readily admit, this is one of, if not the saddest moment in the entire series. The entire episode was wrought with sadness, right down the blue/grey hue. Yet it was Peter Jacobson’s performance that really drove it home for me. After Kutner was found after committing suicide, Taub refused to mourn the loss because “Kutner wanted to die…” Spending the majority of the episode void of emotions, he finally breaks down in tears at the hospital. Most fans of House M.D. have voiced their disgust on the subject of the death of Lawrence Kutner, but even they can’t deny the despair the actors displayed so perfectly.


#5
The Detective Flass Interrogation
Batman Begins (2005)




In an attempt to uncover where the second half of Falcone’s drug shipments are being taken, Gordon and Batman realize that interrogating Detective Flass will be the best place to start. Now, as much as I love the Dark Knight Trilogy, even I can admit that Christian Bale went a bit overboard when it comes to the “Bat-Voice.” However, this scene was easily the best use of it. But it is Bale’s body language that’s the real key to how brilliant this scene is. You can literally see and feel the anger working its way up his body to be hurled at the crooked Flass.


#4
Adam Breaks Down
50/50 (2011)




After learning that he has a malignant tumor on his spine and after the chemotherapy has no effect on it, Adam has to undergo surgery to attempt removing said tumor. Throughout the movie, Adam seems indifferent to what is happening to him. That is, until right before the surgery when he finally breaks down while they administer the anesthesia. This is just another performance on the rather large list that proves the worth of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. You can literally feel his doubts and fears in this scene, which is something not too many actors (including original “Adam,” James McAvoy) can pull off.


#3
Dexter Attacks the Trinity Killer
Dexter: Season 4, Episode 9 – “Hungry Man” (2009)




Taking a different name, Dexter befriends and studies Arthur Mitchell, the vicious “Trinity Killer,” in an attempt to learn how a serial killer can live a seemingly healthy life with his wife and 2 children. Everything comes unglued during a Thanksgiving dinner with the Mitchell family. After Trinity’s son refused to be thankful for his father, Arthur attacks his son and family, prompting Dexter to pounce. This is a common method used, particularly in television. You’ll have a character (usually the lead) that rarely exhibits any emotion throughout the entire series/season until he/she is pushed too far. That is when all emotions erupt in a glorious display. While this is an overused tactic by directors and writers to shock audiences into empathy, that doesn’t mean it’s any less effective.


#2
The Funeral of Bruce Wayne
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)




I might have my problems with The Dark Knight Rises, but as I said in my review, Michael Caine is the stand-out of the film. That’s never more apparent than during the closing of the film after Batman/Bruce Wayne seemingly sacrifices himself for Gotham City (and, “No,” I don’t believe that having Bruce fake his death cheapened the moment at all). With a tear-soaked apology given posthumously to Bruce, Michael Caine pulls you into the film making you feel like you’re right there with him. Every single time I watch that part, a tear is brought to my eye. This is further proof of the genius of Michael Caine.


#1
Sam’s Dad is Dying
Life as a House (2001)




Life as a House never really was given the recognition it deserved. It was a powerfully emotional movie that wasn’t all about trying to pull at your heartstrings (although it did have its moments). It was an incredibly relatable movie for anyone who has felt the painful presence of an impending death in the family. After spending the entirety of the film trying to get his son, Sam, to bond with and love him, George finally admits that he is dying of cancer and wanted to spend his last months with his son in an attempt to reconnect with him while building his dream house. A lot of people complain about Hayden Christensen’s acting in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith (neither of which I agree with), but the kid is a fantastic actor. I can say for a fact that the reaction he had in the film to the awful news of his father’s imminent death is exactly right. It’s a powerful scene that hits home for a lot of people and leaves me crying like a baby every time.




       I hope that you’ve enjoyed this list as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Let me know in the usual spot some of your favorite “emotional outbursts” and what you think of my list. Also, don't forget to leave some of your ideas for one of my future "Top 5" articles. Until next time…
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4 Comments
TragicBronson - 12/10/2012, 11:46 PM
This is a pretty good list, I think JGL in 50/50 should be a little higher :). Where's all the classics! There is nothing older than the last decade :P I'd say a couple off the top of my head are Michael Clarke Duncan in The Green Mile (1999), and Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).Cuckoo
ChrisMc - 12/11/2012, 8:37 AM
Except I thought Alfred was talking to Bruce's parents when he said 'I let you down'. Also the scene in 50/50 where Adam wants to drive his friends car and freaks out is much more intense and emotional.
TheHierophant - 12/11/2012, 9:28 AM
@ELgUaSoN: No, I did not put Nicolas Cage on here. His outbursts aren't great, they're comical (usually unintentionally).

@sljoint: LOL! Even putting the years next to the titles, it never occurred to me that these are all newer films. I honestly feel that it is because the quality of actors has drastically improved over the years. Now we have some of the finest actors around. I dig your Green Mile choice, but that scene has never really stood out to me personally. As for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest... I'm embarrassed to say that I've never seen it. I've been berated by plenty of my friends, as well as myself. It's supposedly one of the greatest movies ever, and I've yet to watch it... I'm ashamed...

@ChrisMc: HOW DARE YOU POINT OUT MY MISTAKE!!! LOL! Nah, j/k... You know, as many times as I've watched The Dark Knight Rises, I've never noticed that little sidestep Alfred does. Still doesn't take away from the impact of the scene. If anything, it strengthens it. That scene didn't even enter my mind (50/50). That's a good one, though! All around, that's a great movie! As with Life as a House, 50/50 didn't get the love and recognition it deserved.
TheHierophant - 12/21/2012, 9:05 PM
@ELgUaSoN: We'll have to agree to disagree on the Cage debate...

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