Animation holds a special place for each and every one of us, they’re the movies we grew up on as children and the movies we find most endearing as adults. They have legacies that we pass on from generation to generation and every once in a while, there are moments that come along that affect us emotionally (yes, I mean the ones that make you cry). Those moments make animations personal and everlasting. Some become cornerstones in animated history and others are treasures we’ll find “once upon a time,” brush off the dust and remember just how much we loved them and wonder why they aren’t more popular. With that, I present to you, the “Top 10 Animated “Awww” Moments”:
10. “Ray’s Funeral” – The Princess and the Frog (2009)
It’s always sad when one of the most beloved characters in an animated film dies, which is why the list begins with the death of Raymond the firefly, or Ray for short, at the hands of the Shadowman in Disney’s 2009 classic, The Princess and the Frog. It’s a sad, but bittersweet moment as Ray finally joins his Evangeline in the night sky.
9. The End – Pocahontas (1995)
Perhaps it’s one of the most tragic endings for a Disney princess – she doesn’t wind up with her prince. Pocahontas and John Smith spend an entire movie forging a forbidden relationship and trying to establish peace between their people. In the end, though, John is shot by Governor Ratcliffe, sending him back to England for medical help. Pocahontas remains strong and bids her farewell from atop a cliff until John Smith vanishes from her sight.
8. “I Love You” – Beauty and The Beast (1991)
Beauty and the Beast, until recently, was the only animation in history to garner an Oscar nod for Best Picture. This final scene is a grand contribution to one of the most classic and timeless love stories ever told, animated or not. Belle and the Beast develop a love that sees the Beast transformed from selfish to selfless. Belle becomes his passion for life and in the final encounter with Gaston, the Beast is mortally wounded. Just before the last petal falls, Belle whispers and confesses her love for the Beast – saving his life, transforming him into the prince with which she’ll “live happily ever after.”
7. “Mother!” – Bambi (1942)
Arguably one of the most recognizable and memorable films to come from Disney, Bambi is regarded as one of the saddest. And who could forget the moment he and his mother are grazing in the field when she suddenly senses danger. They run and leap toward the thicket, but only Bambi survives and begins his unanswered search for his mother.
6. “The Furnace” – Toy Story 3 (2010)
Pixar has a knack for creating emotional animated moments. The Toy Story franchise is full of them – remember Jessie’s story from Toy Story 2? And of course, there’s the bittersweet goodbye between Andy and his toys at the end of Toy Story 3, but who could forget that moment when the toys had to accept their fate to every audience member’s surprise? It was a truly breathtaking moment and one that had many people going, “it can’t end like this!”
5. “Goodbye May Seem Forever” – The Fox and The Hound (1981)
After saving and raising Tod, the fox pup, Widow Tweed is faced with a tough reality, it may be time for him to return to the wild and villain Amos Slade presses the issue. So when it’s time, it’s a bit difficult not to get all choked up when the elderly widow must say farewell to her best friend and leave Tod to fend for himself in the wild.
4. “Baby Mine” – Dumbo (1941)
If the other elephants teasing Mrs. Jumbo’s newly delivered calf wasn’t enough, circus patrons tug and pull on little Dumbo’s ears, much to the irritation of his mother. In a fit of rage, she punishes the bullies, but is sentenced to solitary confinement and labeled as a “mad elephant,” thus leaving Dumbo with limited visitation to his mom. It’s one of my favorite Disney movies of all time and one of the most memorable and heartbreaking moments I’ve ever seen – and “I’ve seen an elephant fly.”
3. “Married Life” – Up (2009)
Pixar, Pixar, Pixar – you’ve done it again. The montage of Carl and Ellie is the most adult-oriented moment in Up, and it’s the most heartwrenching. I’ll admit, I cried like a baby sitting in that theater watching them grow from young lovers to old and witnessing their trials throughout life. They had one goal and sadly, Ellie dies before it’s ever physically achieved.
2. “Run, Run Away and Never Return” – The Lion King (1994)
The moment Scar kills Mufasa and blames Simba is without a doubt one of the most memorable moments from The Lion King or any animation for that matter, not to mention, it’s one of (if not the) first times Disney kills the father. Simba’s discovery of Mufasa in the dust is tragic enough, but then watching him beg and plead for his father to wake is where it becomes overwhelming. And if that’s not enough, Disney throws in another one, Scar blames Simba – creating the greatest sense of longing and one of the most iconic animated villains ever.
And my number one Animated “Awww” Moment is:
1. “Let Your Heart Guide You” – The Land Before Time (1988)
Dinosaurs have always fascinated me and as a child The Land Before Time was a tremendous reason why. I used to watch this with my Mom and my Grandma Sarah. It’s a beautiful, brilliant animated film and probably one of the most emotionally charged (and one of my favorite movies ever!). When Littlefoot and Cera are almost killed by “Sharp Tooth,” Littlefoot’s mom comes to make the save, but the great “earthshake” that divides the continents claims a victim – an already injured Littlefoot’s mother. He rushes across rocks calling out for her and when he finds her, he encourages her to “get up” and continue on the journey to The Great Valley. Unable, she tells Littlefoot to let his heart guide him and that she’ll always be with him. To me, this is the saddest moment in animation history and it makes me cry every single time, no matter what age I am.
There were so many animated moments I wanted to include, like Charlotte’s death from Charlotte’s Web or Charlie’s death from All Dogs go to Heaven or even the scene from An American Tail where Fievel sings “Somewhere Out There.” And who could forget powerful, gripping moments like the scene in the woods from Waltz with Bashir where the children are involved in the war and are shot in the first animated documentary? What about Meg’s death in Hercules or Kerchak’s death in Tarzan or even the moments characters are assumed dead, like Basil of Baker Street in The Great Mouse Detective or Baloo in The Jungle Book? So many moments and movies, but only 10 could make the list. What are your thoughts? Agree or disagree? I’m interested to know – so sound off in the comments and you decided if this list is a hit or a flop!
UPDATE: As of 12:30 a.m. on 10/5/2011, all videos are available and working via YouTube.