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Tear Jerker / An American Tail

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"Don Bluth's philosophy was that children could handle just about anything as long as you attached a happy ending. Fuck you Mr. Bluth! I may be able to handle it, but my therapy bills won't! (Inelegant Blubbering)
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This has been argued as the most depressing movie Don Bluth has ever directed.

  • James Horner's score is absolutely heartbreaking.
  • The Orphan Alley scene.
    • And the camera panning out, showing us the hundreds of other orphans sleeping, also having lost hope...
      • Then it pulls a Bambi and gives us happy birds after arguably the saddest part.
    • When you stop and think about it, the three Jerkass orphans who briefly convince Fievel that his family won't find him are also to be pitied. It is implied that they themselves got separated from their parents and subsequently abandoned their better nature in favor of looking out for themselves. One of them even states that he stopped trying to find his family a long time ago. Those poor, poor kids!
  • Fievel hearing his father's voice and muttering a barely audible "Papa...?" near the end of the movie is the simplest, yet strongest tearjerker ever, as it shows that, after so many cases of mistaking others for him, he's become reluctant to get his hopes up again.
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  • The Irish lad in the song "There Are No Cats in America", singing about how his true love was killed by a cat, after all.
    Irish Lad: In a flash of teeth and fur/Her tail was all he left of her...
  • The song Somewhere Out There is really one big tear jerker as well.
  • When Fievel is finally reunited with his family (a happy tearjerker, but one nonetheless). Especially since Fievel was shown as having given up all hope in the previous scene.
  • "Five. I mean...four."
  • The scene where Fievel first thinks he hears his father's violin playing... it turns out to be a record player. It's his reaction that does it.
  • Fievel looking at a classroom through a window, especially since it was based off a story about Steven Spielberg's grandfather (also named Fievel), who couldn't go into a school because he was Jewish and could only hear the lessons outside in the snow.
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  • Fievel calling out “Mama! Papa!” from the bottle.
  • The entire scene where Fievel is washed overboard is just heartbreaking. Fievel struggles to stay alive while he screams for his Papa to help him, all while his father can only helplessly watch. Talk about a parent's worst nightmare.
  • All of poor Fievel's misadventures in America. It really hammers in how terrifying, dangerous, and miserable it would be to be a child separated from your family in a totally unfamiliar country (especially in the past). Some examples not previously mentioned above include:
    • Fievel nearly getting run over by a train.
    • Fievel almost getting eaten by cats at a market (complete with shots of the cats catching other mice who weren't lucky enough to escape).
    • Fievel mistaking the music of a gramophone for his father's violin music, only to get chased away by the gramaphone's owner.
  • Fievel getting tricked into getting conscripted for sweatshop labor.
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