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Great Movies That Are Hard to Watch


slaytonf
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The Heiress is on tonight. William Wyler made no better picture except for The Best Years of Our Lives. And it was certainly Olivia de Havilland's best performance. But the story is so devastating, it's hard for me to watch it. Sure, she prevails over the fortune-hunting snake Morris, but the victory is so shattering that you feel for her more like she is the victim.

 

Another film hard for me to watch is I Want to Live! It's so systematic a portrayal of the destruction of a human being (however merited). The step-by-step abandonment, the inexorable elimination of all hope, is almost intolerable for me to watch. In fact, I've only watched the end once. The alternation between the revival and destruction of her last hope amounts to torture. For me, it's the most harrowing sequence in film.

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This is a great topic. I can think of quite a few movies that are stellar, but leave me feeling sad. "Marley and Me" does that to me every time. But, it doesn't prevent me from watching the movie at least once a month.

 

I know this may be a bit too modern, but the movie does fit the older one of it's kind such as; Old Yeller. All movies that focus on "man's and )women's!) best friend" are usually well made and make us cry.

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I have to agree with you on *I Want To Live* and I couldn't have summed up the reasons why any better than you did staytonf

 

As far as *The Heiress* goes, again another one on my top 10 favorite films of all time. However I could watch that film 100's of times and never tire of it. and not let it break my heart. Olivia was certainly deserving of that Oscar. Ralph Richardson in the role of Dr. Sloper couldn't have been done better by anybody. A brilliant performance, one of my favorites on screen.

 

For many years, I couldn't rewatch *Splendor In the Grass* - I love that film very much, but it was always too heart breaking for me. The music alone was so beautiful and perfect for the film and broke my heart. Luckily I'm OK with the film now and can handle it, but I still shed a tear each time I watch as Natalie and her friends drive away from Warren and she recites the poem. Gets me every time.

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Well actually NONE of 'em anymore...and once that doctor schooled in that there Lasik contraption did his thing on me!

 

(...sorry)

 

Okay, the one movie I always mention about being hard for me to watch is "The Last Picture Show". A slight touch of melancholia always kicks in every time I see Timothy Bottoms consoled by the equally unhappy Cloris Leachman at the end of it.

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Very true, slayton, though I think what always gets to me most about that film is the idea that all these poor souls in it feel stuck in that small dying town and just can't think of a way to extricate themselves from it and their "lot in life".

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I think that's one mark of great filmmaking to make you feel something inside like this. Not the gratuitous or sappiness. I mean when its well done and genuinely executed.

 

The only problem is when I hear about such endings, I am afraid to watch the film in the first place lol. I guess I just have to get up the courage and watch some of these classics.

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I really enjoy German expressionism films, especially those of Fritz Lang; the style, the look, the generally drawn out stories.

I find no matter how great these films are, if watching them on DVD, I have to watch them alone. (theater viewing is an entirely different story)

 

Most people I know have much shorter attention spans and just lose interest and can't follow the story. I also notice films that have little action but rely on dialogue such as THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY don't capture a "casual viewer's" attention.

 

It's as if they don't really listen to what's said, they are waiting to be shown the story. And if it takes too long, they forget the story arc.

 

The succinct tight editing of later films that barely allow you to breathe between action sequences seem to be all today's audience can digest.

So I think there are a LOT of great movies that are hard for some people to watch, not because the story is hard to take, but it's just not told FAST ENOUGH.

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A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (1951) and LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT (1962). both of these movies get my highest rating and respect. but i find Desire with it's deluded protagonists and squalid setting uncomfortable and depressing. Journey's story of a family gone haywire because of the pretensions of each member and the mother's drug induced fantasy is unsettling. maybe if i bump into them i might watch either one, and that's because i'm enchanted and gripped by the acting.

 

but each is an avoidance when i plan my viewing or set a reminder.

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>MovieMadness:

> Any of the movies using early modern English or Elizabethan English, like Henry V. Why they did this I will never know. After 20 minutes in I am usually done in, lol.

 

Perhaps in the versions you saw, they did not speak the words trippingly on the tongue.

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There are quite a few movies that are incredible but are too painful to watch. I for one cannot stand STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE because it is way too painful (it reminds me too much of my dysfunctional extended family that I purposefully live several hundred miles from), though it is a fantastic film. There are others that I have seen (and will see) but can't watch too often because they are so painful, such as the amazing HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER.

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The one movie which I love to watch but writhe when I see the title on the TCM broadcast schedule is the Oscar award winning performance of Eleanor Parker in the 1950 movie "Caged". To see Eleanor Parker's portrayal as an innocent teenager in the beginning of the movie and have the prison matron's cruelty turn her character into a hardened callous adult and possible repeat criminal at the end of the movie is just so heart-breaking.

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How interesting. Here is a movie that, despite it's dire content, was meant at the end to have an uplifting, even triumphant effect, someone (and likely more than one) finds hard to watch. I find personally there are some movies that have a tragic storyline, but I enjoy watching, like one of the adaptations of a Shakespeare tragedy, or The Red Shoes.

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Shakespeare is fiction. SCHINDLER"S LIST is not. Big big big difference. SCHINDLER'S LIST may be uplifting at the end but it is certainly not triumphant in any sense to me. One simply realizes that only these few and and a few others were basically all that remained of a proud and vibrant and cultured ancient religious race in most countries of central Europe. They died horrifically in the millions along with millions of Gypsies, Poles, Russian POW's, and others in the extermination/POW/"work" camps of the Nazis. I certainly did not feel triumphant at the end of the movie. I felt drained and horrified as my ancestry is German. My wife won't ever see it again either and I basically dragged her against her will to a theater to experience the horror as I think it is important for everyone to see it. Never forget. Never. It is way way beyond what you call "dire content".

 

Edited by: roverrocks on Feb 11, 2014 12:00 AM

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Along the lines of "Schindler's List," I find "Saving Private Ryan" also difficult to watch. The graphic, realistic images of war are tough to watch; but these images are also what makes the film. The opening scene depicting the landing at Normandy is especially gruesome; but is probably one of the most realistic depictions of what war is like. I really like this film; but it's the type of film you have to be in the mood to watch. I probably wouldn't pop this movie into the DVD player just on a whim and watch it to relax in the evening.

 

Another film that I find difficult to watch (well at least the last quarter of it) is the end of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner." Spencer Tracy delivers that memorable speech approving his daughter's interracial marriage. The speech as it is, is fraught with emotion. However, if a viewer knows about Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn and knows the significance of this film for them, it makes the scene even more emotional. Tracy was very ill and barely made it through the film shoot. In Tracy's soliloquy, when he speaks of the enduring love he and Katharine Hepburn have together, Hepburn is seen crying. This wasn't scripted and knowing how ill Tracy was, she was genuinely moved by his remarks. Knowing all this information makes the scene even more heart wrenching.

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>roverrocks:

>Shakespeare is fiction. SCHINDLER"S LIST is not. Big big big difference.

 

And yet others will have the same reaction as yours to a movie that is a fictional story. And others will not have the same inability to watch Schindler's List. All due to intensely personal reasons.

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