9 Must-See Old Movies That Will Break Your Heart
As time passes, so does the appreciation for classic cinema. These films are a time capsule, showing us what life was like in another era, while still being able to evoke a wide range of emotions. While some classics are known for their humor and lightheartedness, others are incredibly somber, touching on themes like death, heartbreak, and the human condition. Here are nine of the saddest old movies that you have to see.
“Gone with the Wind” (1939)
This epic romantic drama set in the South during the Civil War and Reconstruction era is known for its sweeping cinematography and iconic performances by Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. However, the film’s heartache and tragedy leave an indelible mark on the viewer. From Scarlett’s loss of her first love to the devastating destruction of her beloved Tara, “Gone with the Wind” is a masterpiece of sadness.
“The Elephant Man” (1980)
Based on the true story of Joseph Merrick, a man with severe facial deformities who was treated as a sideshow attraction, “The Elephant Man” is a heart-wrenching exploration of humanity and compassion. John Hurt’s performance as Merrick is both moving and haunting, leaving a lasting impression on the viewer.
“Brief Encounter” (1945)
This classic British film tells the story of a chance meeting between a married woman and a married man who fall deeply in love but are unable to be together due to their circumstances. The film’s melancholy score and restrained performances perfectly capture the intense emotions of the characters as they try to navigate their impossible situation.
“The Seventh Seal” (1957)
Ingmar Bergman’s medieval allegory about a knight who plays a game of chess with Death in order to delay his own demise is a bleak examination of mortality and the meaning of life. The film’s iconic final scene is one of the most haunting and powerful in cinema history.
“The Best Years of Our Lives” (1946)
A post-World War II drama about the struggles of three returning soldiers as they try to readjust to civilian life, “The Best Years of Our Lives” is a poignant exploration of the toll of war on both individuals and society. The film’s emotional climax, as one character tries to reconcile with his estranged wife, is a devastating gut-punch.
“The Bicycle Thief” (1948)
Vittorio De Sica’s neorealist masterpiece follows a man and his young son as they search the streets of Rome for the man’s stolen bicycle, which he needs for his job. The film’s portrayal of poverty and desperation is heartbreaking, and the final shot, as the man and his son walk away defeated, is a crushing depiction of the human condition.
“The Red Shoes” (1948)
A classic ballet film that explores the relationship between art and life, “The Red Shoes” is a stunning visual feast that is also incredibly tragic. The film’s central character, a ballerina torn between her love for dance and her love for a composer, is consumed by her passion to the point of destruction.
“The Misfits” (1961)
Written by Arthur Miller and starring Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, and Montgomery Clift, “The Misfits” is a deeply melancholic exploration of disillusionment and lost dreams. The film’s behind-the-scenes turmoil, including Monroe’s personal struggles and Gable’s failing health, only add to the sense of sadness that permeates the screen.
This timeless classic set in World War II-era Morocco is known for its iconic romantic storyline between Humphrey Bogart’s Rick and Ingrid Bergman’s Ilsa. However, the film’s true sadness comes from its exploration of sacrifice and duty, as Rick must let go of his own desires in order to do what is best for the greater good.
These nine old movies are just a small sample of the powerful emotional experiences that classic cinema can provide. While they may be sad, they are also deeply moving and thought-provoking, making them an essential part of any film lover’s repertoire. Watching them can transport us to another time and place, while also reminding us of the universal human experiences that transcend time and space.