Emotional responses caused by especially upsetting movies are not something to be feared. Rather, they should be embraced as signs of a truly exceptional creation. However, the best movies may not be the one would necessarily want to watch again. Some films can trigger such raw emotions, as to leave a lasting impact on the viewer’s life: the images and sounds will be so poignant, as to not need a second viewing at all. In fact, it may be said that such movies will be more effective if only watched once. They will transcend the art form, and start to feel like more than a movie: an experience, impregnated of sentiment.
Some movies may be predisposed to have such effect, purely based on the topic portrayed. Yet some can be especially gutting. For instance, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas merges the story of fictional characters, with the horrors of the holocaust. It captures history in the rarest way possible: the viewer, rather than feeling a detached sense of contempt, will be hit by profound desperation. It is for this reason, that The Boy in the Striped Pajamas should only be watched once. Because of its expertly written characters, the historical context does not alone provoke the emotion: it merely contributes to making it long-lasting.
Other movies will embrace the audience with a gentle tone and a slow pace, while draining them of any will to live.
Okja is a different category. It’s not only is it emotionally resonant, but it shocks the viewer with scenes of incredible significance. Like numerous entries on this article, the movie focuses on the sweet and uplifting relationship between two main characters. The viewer will be fully invested in the relationship, and will be filled with dread at thought of such purity being tarnished. Almost unbearably tense, this movie will inevitably engage the audience, with extreme visuals and weighty themes, while leaving them exhausted by an emotional journey.
Other movies will embrace the audience with a gentle tone and a slow pace, while draining them of any will to live. Hachiko will have this effect. With the titular dog being the moral centre of the movie, loyalty stands out as the most important element of the story: the movie offers a time of reflection on the different facets of this virtue, from dedication to grief to persistence.
The decision to watch these films twice should not be taken lightly.
Lastly, Manchester by the Sea and Million Dollar Baby, with slowly evolving storylines, muted colours, and understated performances, provide thought provoking themes and nuance characters, which leave the audience with a fuller understanding of what life could be. However, the grounded styles add an element of relatability to the films: therefore, because the experiences of the characters can be especially gruesome and filled with regret, the emotional impact will feel genuine.
These movies stand out because the weight they will put on the viewer cannot be lifted by a simple ‘it’s just a movie’. The decision to watch these films twice should not be taken lightly: the revealing portrayals of undeniable truths about humanity, paired with memorably appalling visuals will not be easily ignored, nor brushed away.