Culture Digest: The Saddest Movie in the World?

Psychologists screened more than 250 of the saddest movies in front of 500 film buffs to find out which was the ultimate tearjerker.

Alison Caporimo from Reader's Digest Magazine
Culture Digest: The Saddest Movie in the World?MGM/The Kobal Collection/Art Resource, NY

These guys aren’t mean, but they do make people cry. Searching for a surefire way to get tear samples for research, Robert Levenson, a psychology professor at the University of California, and James Gross, now a professor at Stanford University, set out to find the biggest sob story ever to hit celluloid. After screening more than 250 tearjerkers in frontof 500 film buffs, researchers discovered the biggest boohoo of the bunch: the oldie-but-goodie The Champ (1979), in which a boxer (Jon Voight) dies in front of his son (Ricky Schroder). According to Smithsonian magazine, the psychologists’ findings have since been cited in more than 300 scientific articles, including one study showing that smokers take more drags when they feel sad.

Our Facebook fans, however, recently chose their own saddest film: Bambi (1942). The story of the motherless fawn produced more virtual emotion for these readers than even Titanic and Schindler’s List.

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