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The greatest movie self-sacrifices that brought us to tears #Dunkirk

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With Christopher Nolan's new movie exploring the bravery of the civilians who rescued the Allied soldiers from Dunkirk, we select seven other movies where the levels of bravery stirred our emotions. And, no, they're not all war flicks.

K-19: The Widowmaker

A rather overlooked entry in the Kathryn Bigelow canon, this gripping, claustrophobic, true-life Cold War drama suffers from a few dodgy Russian accents but tells an extraordinary story of bravery aboard the Soviet navy's flagship nuclear sub back in 1961. Something of a rust bucket, its reactor core threatens meltdown off the US coastline, necessitating the sacrifice of 20 young lives to save the world from potential annihilation. It's a rare Hollywood tale of military heroism without a crew-cut Yank in sight.


Titanic

An obvious choice, perhaps, but there's a reason why James Cameron's epic remains one of the highest-grossing films of all time - and that's the fact that the spectacular effects are never allowed to overshadow the human story at its core. While the ghastly toffs stop at nothing to save their own skins, young third-class passenger Jack Dawson's (Leonardo DiCaprio) devotion to Rose (Kate Winslet) is so great that he eventually makes the ultimate sacrifice to save her.


The Green Mile

Frank Darabont's lengthy adaptation of Stephen King's novel is intensely moving with Michael Clarke Duncan gives a literally towering performance as a mentally challenged black man with supernatural powers, who languishes on death row for a crime he didn't commit. In keeping with the novel's religious overtones, it leads to final act of Christ-like self-sacrifice.


The Iron Giant

Best known these days for the likes of The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Brad Bird made his directorial debut back in 1999 with this witty, sophisticated adaptation of Ted Hughes's Cold War fable. When the alien robot (voiced by Vin Diesel) sacrifices himself with a cry of "I'm Superman!" in order to save the lives of his human friends, he becomes arguably the only animated hulking tin leviathan to move audiences to tears.


Saving Private Ryan

War movies are frequently filled with acts of heroic self-sacrifice. But for scenes of great emotional power, few can beat the death of Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) in Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. Having been dispatched with his squad to locate and return with the eponymous James Ryan (Matt Damon), whose three siblings were killed in combat, Miller finds his man but is mortally wounded by a German soldier. His dying words to Ryan are, "James... earn this. Earn it."


Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

One of the iconic Star Trek moments comes at the end of the second movie, when Spock sacrifices himself to save the crew of the Enterprise. "Don't grieve, Admiral," he tells the distraught Kirk while succumbing to radiation poisoning. "It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh..." "…the needs of the few," adds Kirk, finishing his sentence. Leonard Nimoy saw this as a great way for Spock to finally go out with a bang, as he didn't intend to return to the role. As we all know, it didn't quite work out that way.


Inside Out

Pixar are quite brilliant at marshalling pixels to make us cry. But who'd have predicted that one of the studio's most moving moments would centre on the self-sacrifice of a lonely, weird-looking child's imaginary friend named Bing Bong? Trapped in Riley's memory dump, Bing Bong and Joy attempt to escape in his old wagon rocket ship. But their combined weight is too great to escape the dump. Realising that his time has passed but that Riley cannot function without Joy, Bing Bong leaps from the wagon at the last minute during their final attempt. "Take her to the moon for me," he tells her. Oh dear, there's something in my eye…



Dunkirk hits Cineworld on 21 July.


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