Reel Talk: The science of crying at movies


Jillian Leiby, JagWire opinions editor

I’m a crier. I’ve come to accept this. If a trailer for a movie is really good, I can be found fighting back tears. I’m that emotional.

However, I think I have found the science to curbing my tears. It is this: In order not to cry, I must go into a movie expecting to cry.

I learned this through personal experience after I watched “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2.” While I was a relative fan of the first two movies, the continued attempt at cashing in on the popularity of the book (i.e., making the last book into two movies when it did not deserve one) made me weary of the last film. My mom forced me to come with her, and I had stated that it was going to be a bad movie.

I spent the entire movie crying. Like, not just the end, or when things went really bad. I cried the entire movie. I’m tearing up typing this and thinking about when I started crying. I won’t spoil anyone right now (even though the movie is a couple of week old), but there were a lot of scenes that got me bad. And I had read the books, so I knew what was coming.

The thing about crying in a movie theater is that it is not fun if no one else is doing it. I was blubbering like a baby and feeling incredibly shameful at the same time — it was not a pleasant experience. There are times when you are trying to hold in a good sob and your body is fighting you. This was that time.

After being made fun of for crying by my mom (the saddest sentence ever written), I went to see “Suffragette.” I was excited to see it, and it was a movie I had nearly cried at while watching the trailer, so I was going expecting to being needing a tissue.

However, my eyes were pretty dry the entire time. Even when terrible things were happening to the women on screen (and it happened a lot), I had dry eyes.

This had happened before, but never so close together that I was able to understand the correlation. While I continue to maintain that “Mockingjay — Part 2” is a relatively mediocre movie, I had a much more visceral experience because I wasn’t expecting it.

It’s nice, however, to have a good cry sometimes, and a dark theater can be the best place for it.

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