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Tear Jerker: RENT
Mimi saying that she would quit the drugs and go back to school, knowing that she probably couldn't.
When Angel died.
the "I'll Cover You" reprise
A more specific point - "When your heart has expired" in the Dark Reprise of "I'll Cover You". Dare you not to cry.
The song Without You.
Seconded. This troper can just about hold himself together during I'll Cover You Reprise, but Without You NEVER fails to have him blubbering like a baby.
It gets better in the movie. First, there's the montage of the support group, with each member who dies slowly fading from view as the camera pans over them, and then there's the inclusion of Angel's death at the end, shown in its blunt, harsh, painful reality, as Collins cries holding the body. This replaces the Mind Screw/True Art Is Incomprehensible original version of the death from "Contact", and was included by Word of God because of the age of the musical: by the time the movie was made, AIDS research had progressed enough that the disease is no longer an automatic death sentence and a lot of modern people wouldn't get why such a big deal is made out of contracting it. By showing Angel's death, the pain and sorrow and loss and suffering is brought home to the viewer in a way "Contact" never could have, and pairing it up with "Without You" makes it even more poignant and heart-wrenching. It certainly works.
Also the repeating chorus song, "Will I?" being sung by an AIDS support group, slowly joined by the main cast. "Will I lose my dignity?/Will someone care?/Will I wake tomorrow/from this nightmare?"
The worst part? The support group members are all named after Jonathan Larson's friends who died from AIDS.
And that the song was inspired by a member of a real life support group that Jonathan Larson visited who stood up and said something to the effect of "I know that I am going to die; I am not afraid of that. I know that it will probably be long and painful, and I am not afraid of that. The only thing that I am afraid of is, will I lose my dignity?"
In the tenth anniversary concert, the solo bit in "Will I?" is sung by Angel because the original cast member couldn't be there. That's right, Angel, who's generally such a happy person, asking if anyone will care when she dies. Yeah.
"Life Support". "Look, I find some of what you teach suspect/Because I'm used to relying on intellect/But I try to open up to what I don't know/Because reason says I should have died three years ago." And then everyone joins in with the Life Support mantra.
Halloween. Why am I the witness!? And when I capture it on film... will it mean that it's the end, and I'm alone...? -sniff-
Mark and Roger's fight.
Mark: Maybe you'll see why when you stop escaping your pain! At least now if you try, Angel's death won't be in vain!
Roger: His death IS in vain!
In addition to the aforementioned "Halloween," when Roger accuses Mark of hiding behind his camera and Mark retorts "Perhaps it's because I'm the one of us to survive!" To hear him finally confess to his best friend how terrified he is of watching him die, especially in the middle of an argument, is just heartbreaking.
In the stage show, when the members of Life Support are giving their names, you may notice that the names given vary from the ones in the Original Broadway Cast recording or the film (Steve, Gordon, Ally, Pam, and Sue). The thing is that these names are changed from production to production, to honor the friends and family of the cast who are living with or have died from AIDS.
One song, glory.
"Glory, from the soul of a young man. ...A young man."
You all said you'd be cool today,/So please, for my sake.../I can't believe he's gone./I can't believe you're going./I can't believe this family must die./Angel helped us believe in love./I can't believe you disagree.
There's something about Roger's anguished "Mimiiiiii!" at the end of "Your Eyes," especially the 2008 version, that just rips this troper's heart out. Chills, man.
A meta example: Jonathan Larson unexpectedly died just before the show's off-broadway premiere. Anthony Rapp said in his autobiography that the next night, the cast did a performance for Jonathan's close friends and family - even though he and several others were crying too hard to even sing some of the songs properly. And then they sang again at the memorial service. Where, in addition to group songs, Adam Pascal performed One Song Glory. You know, the song about writing one last important, meaningful thing before you die?
The final shot of Angel in the movie, her nails are painted blue. The same colour that Mimi was painting them in the hospital when she was dying. The implication is heartbreaking- Mark shot that in some of Angels final days