Why Do People Cry at Movies?

A Side Effect of Projection


Titanic, Ghost, AramageddonThe Notebook, A Walk to Remember… these are all movies that make us cry. Men and women, we’ve all experienced it. Whether at the cinema, a friend’s house, or tucked in the blancket next to our significant other, we’ve all experienced crying at the movie. Why is that? Why do we allow ourselves to cry at the movies, but inhibit the same urge in real life moments?

I couldn’t find but two reasons. Crying at the movies is a side effect of projection. Whereas, crying in front of realistic heartbreaking moments is a sign of vulnerability, so we try to control it as much as possible. However, coming back to the number one reason of this article’s existence, we cry at movies because we build scenarios. Movies are, most of the times, inspired from life. Life means interaction, social connections, the little moments between living beings, that feed us with energy throughout a day. I cannot point out one single movie actor that would miss on such bazal characteristic. Not even Will Smith in I Am Legend.

Budapest Wine Gallery
Budapest Wine Gallery

Further on, any crucial scene in the movie is driven by social interactions. Every single drama root lies behind relationships. Our emotions align to what we see on screen, because we relate to it. We build our own projection into the future, or even the past, bearing one question in mind: “What if …?”. And so, images are built in our brain, so strong, that we actually believe. Even if it’s 1%, we believe. Emotions flood in, followed by a state of relief, knowing we can control this, we can prevent that from happening, because we have the guidelines from the movie. We learn from other’s experiences.

In this respective alone, I believe we can all admit, that men and women are alike, they both cry at movies. The only difference is women cry more, because to the movie-driven-crying mode, adds up, as well, the seeing-a-man-cry-heartbreaking state.

Budapest Bridge
Regardless of why we cry, the ending will be the same: we blow our noses.
Simone de BeauvoirMémoires d’une jeune fille rangée 
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