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Why are we drawn to tragedy in film?

Tragedy in cinema is a large genre (Forrest Gump, Marriage Story, Steel Magnolias, etc.) but why are we drawn to movies that make us cry? Is there a similarity to listening to sad music? Maybe a big, cathartic cry is just what’s needed to make it through a tough week. But does tragedy in cinema help us to express our emotions or make us feel worse?

Discuss how tragedy relates to the ideas of romanticism, and why these themes are still prevalent in today’s blockbusters.

  • Traditionally, the intention of tragedy has always been to cause catharsis (pleasure through pain) to the audience. But it has been discussed that many other genres or artistic forms can also produce or invoke catharsis. In the end, it is all a matter of personal or cultural preference. If it is true that some people are attracted to tragic stories, it is also true that many people actively avoid any form of tearjerker, too. – T. Palomino 3 weeks ago
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  • I think this could be examined through a lens of either upward or downward comparison: does seeing depictions of suffering more significant than ours elevate ourselves and make us feel better about our own relatively insignificant problems, or does viewing suffering as adjacent to our own validate our emotions and allow us justification to be upset? – lavenderhatchet 3 weeks ago
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