Unnecessarily happy endings

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Juan C, Jul 1, 2005.

  1. Juan C

    Juan C Second Unit

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    I just read Michael Osadciw's review of the movie Hide and Seek, where he says something I totally agree with:



    Yuck.
     
  2. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    Some bother me more than others. The one that has always leapt out at me is the ending of Always.

    On the other hand, with respect to Blade Runner, if you're like most people, you saw some form of the theatrical print first. Doesn't that foreknowledge of that prior screening affect how even BR:TDC ends, even though it isn't shown anymore?

    Leo
     
  3. Juan C

    Juan C Second Unit

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    Leo,

    You're right, I saw Blade Runner theatrically when it opened in 1983. But even though I was just a wide-eyed teenager with no knowledge or standards as a filmgoer :b , I noticed the sudden shift in tone and mood.
     
  4. Kevin Grey

    Kevin Grey Cinematographer

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    Disagree about the last two points for The Perfect Storm. I thought those scenes were necessary to to provide a sense of closure and moving on for the families and friends, as well as the audience. Sappy, sure, but not inappopriate. A true cop-out would have been if some of the crew had survived which was actually considered while developing the movie IIRC.
     
  5. Juan C

    Juan C Second Unit

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    Kevin, I see where you're coming from, but I still thinks it dillutes what has happened before. On the other hand, consider another seafaring film by Wolfgang Petersen, Das Boot:

    After narrowly escaping disaster, the submarine goes back to port, welcomed by a cheering crowd and music. The base gets bombed. The wounded captain watches his vessel sink. He dies. Roll credits.

    Yeah, I know, The Perfect Storm was a more recent, American, true story. But still.
     
  6. Kevin Grey

    Kevin Grey Cinematographer

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    But there was nowhere else for Das Boot to go- it never focused on wives and families at home so there was no room for an additional coda there. I would agree on The Perfect Storm if we had stayed with the boat at sea the entire time but since almost equal coverage was given over to the friends and families on shore then it was appropriate to show some sense of closure for them.

    Again, not to say that its not sappy but I certainly wouldn't call it a forced happy ending when it pretty much matches exactly what happened in real life, from my understanding (its been years since I read the book).

    The Perfect Storm, Titanic, Braveheart, and Gladiator all had endings seemingly unhappy but are presented in an uplifting manner that, as the original article points out, match the mood of the film. There is no one, correct way for a filmmaker to deal with death and loss and sometimes directors will want to show such moments in a manner that provides some sense of closure, hope, and perhaps optimism and other times such moments will be presented as horribly devastating and unfair. The right choice is strictly which one fits with the intent of the film.

    The choice is only wrong in those times where a happy ending is inserted in a wholly inappropriate and ubelievable manner, often via means of Deus Ex Machina, that totally betrays the intent of the rest of the film. I would cite War of the Worlds as one of the more recent offenders of this.
     
  7. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Agreed even more.

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    H
     
  8. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    It seems you believe that if the movie is downbeat then so should the ending? I can't agree with that.

    Happy ending to downbeat movie is only a problem if said ending is not earned.

    The Pianist is as depressing as anything I have seen in recent years, and yet it ends (somewhat) happily and rightly so, that dude has certainly earned a right to survival.

    Also, there is a flip side to this coin. I thought downbeat ending of Wages of Fear and more recently Cold Mountain were completely stooopid, came out of nowhere, made no thematic sense, and were put there for the sole purpose of AVOIDING a happy ending.

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    H
     
  9. Adam_ME

    Adam_ME Supporting Actor

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    I remember a lot of people complaining about a certain character(I won't say who for those who still haven't seen it) surviving at the end of L.A. Confidential. I do recall being surprised by that when I saw it in the theater.

    I think What Dreams May Come would've been a stronger film had it ended 20 minutes earlier when Robin Williams and his wife were in hell.

    Also, I really wish that rumored final line in Minority Report had been left in.
     
  10. Kevin Grey

    Kevin Grey Cinematographer

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    What was the rumored final line (spoiler-protected if needed)?
     
  11. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    An interesting thing about L.A. Confidential is that even though the plot of the book is INCREDIBLY different from the movie, the last scene of the film is taken almost verbatim from the last couple of pages of the book. It does feel a little awkward in the movie, whereas it's more appropriate in the book (the way in which the character you're referring to, Adam, reaches that point in the book bears almost no resemblance to what happens in the movie). Although I still think it's one of the two or three best films of the '90s. The amazing achievement in the adaptation of the book is that they changed so much--by necessity, the book's plot is so insanely complex that it would take hours and hours of run-time to unravel it on film--while honoring its atmospheric tone very faithfully.

    Holadem, I agree on Wages of Fear. But have you seen Clouzout's Les Diabolique, from around the same time? Enough twists and turns to fill three movies' worth of great endings.
     
  12. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    Yes, I'd agree that some films have a happyish ending that have earned the right to show it while some choose a happy ending in a way that just feels cheap. Some of this feels like studio manipulation while others are decisions by the filmmakers. I'd have loved a tragic ending to A.I. but the creator of it decided not to. I still think the ending is disappointing given the film that preceded it.

    I'd love for tragic endings in more than just horror movies (who play the 'killer not dead, jumps at now safe hero' for a gag) or epic love stories. Heck, Shakespeare's screenplay these days would have had Romeo and Juliet stop their sucides and realize that love conquers all while their parents put down their quarrels and embrace them.

    There's room for tragedy and it is underexplored in film these days. Sometimes, son, the dog does not evade the exploding fireball.
     
  13. Kyle_D

    Kyle_D Second Unit

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    It was something along the line of "The next year there were x-amount of murders in Washington D.C."
     
  14. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    Some would say that's the case with Kurosawa's Rashomon, where even the idea of hope/optimism is seen as a "happy ending". I don't believe either end of the spectrum determines what good filmmaking is, but the way certain films are praised it certainly has me scratching my head. Does despair equal great filmmaking?
     
  15. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    In "JAWS"

    Hooper survives the cage attack. In the novel, he does not. In fact, if I recall, the shark seemingly mocks Quint and Brody by poking its head out of the water with Hooper in its jaws.
     
  16. Steve Felix

    Steve Felix Supporting Actor

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    That would have compromised the much more interesting concept that the ending is probably a false one. Even if the end is meant to be taken literally, I think that line would have been too on the nose. I can appreciate the moral pros and cons without it.
     
  17. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Not to revive this debate but there is no indication whatsoever that the ending is not true. Mostly wishful thinking. More, it would be very un-Spielberg.

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    H
     
  18. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    Hey now, MUCH more than Psycho? Watch out there...heh, just kidding, Les Diaboliques is obviously a masterpiece, but I love Psycho as well (though the psychiatrist scene does go on for too long). As you might already know, the authors of Les D. also wrote the book that was the basis for Vertigo. And speaking of Simone Signoret, the recent Criterion release of Casque d'Or has me worshipping at her shrine. What a GREAT movie star.

    As for Rashomon, I guess I can see the criticism of how they did the ending, but I love those guys (Shimura and Chiaki) and it works for me. But Throne of Blood = best Kurosawa ending. Stray Dog, another teriffic movie, has a somewhat unnecessary little coda at the very end (after a stunningly superb climax).
     
  19. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

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    There are a dozen other questions the movie raises and even more possible ways it could be interpreted. And it doesn't tell you which one is the right one, and that's why I think Kubrick would have been proud. But that's just my opinion. :p)

    As for happy endings in general, I agree that if the movie has earned it, then there's no problem. But something like Enemy at the Gates, for example. I thought it really undid everything the movie was trying to convey up until that point. I still think it's a good movie, except for that final minute or two.
     
  20. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Yep. Wages of Fear comes to mind immediately when this sort of discussion comes up. It is a perfect example of the differing views of the Euro culture. Many foreign films, especially of that era, had exactly this demand that in the end its all pointless.

    We live in America (most of us) and America still produces most of the high profile films we experience, so that cultural "little guy wins in the end, boy gets the girl, blue collar is better than big money" attitude is reflected in the cinematic choices.
     

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