Romeo and Juliet crowned biggest tear-jerker

Romeo and Juliet rated most emotional film

Romeo and Juliet, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes in the title roles, has been found to elicit the biggest emotional response in women, according to a new study.

But it’s not just because we’re all teary Tinas – it’s all down to electroencephalography, a phenomenon in which neurons in our brains mirror the emotions we watch on screen – meaning we experience the same feelings.

Researchers found romantic scenes triggered the ‘mirror’ neurons, causing the viewers to experience the same emotions as the characters.

And a study by Lovefilm.com, which involved wiring up 1,000 volunteers to electrodes to measure their heart rate and blood pressure as they watched various films, showed that Romeo and Juliet is the film that gets our emotions racing the most.

The volunteers – equal numbers of both sexes – had to wear a cap fitted with 20 wired sensors called EEGs, or electroencephalograms.

Nearly 20% had a surge in heart rate when they were shown scenes of Romeo And Juliet dying in the 1996 movie by Baz Luhrmann. Twelve per cent had the same reaction to the ending of Casablanca, while ten per cent went giddy when Patrick Swayze returned from the dead to woo Demi Moore in Ghost.

Not surprisingly, women showed a greater response to romantic clips, and men reacted more to action films like Die Hard.

Neuropsychologist David Lewis, of the Mind Laboratory, said: ‘By mirroring inside a person’s head what is unfolding before their eyes, neurons enable movie fans to unconsciously experience the intense emotions depicted.

‘This means if a plot involves romance, viewers will experience the same response as if it was happening to them.

‘The more romantic the movie, the more physically and emotionally aroused viewers become as mirror neurons go into overdrive.

‘In addition, powerful chemicals related to amphetamines will be released into the blood, producing the giddy high often experienced with romance.

He added: ‘Mirror neurons are a relatively recent discovery, but they help us develop empathy.

‘They are why people get moved to tears or get excited by what they are seeing, because they become emotionally involved.’

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