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Natalie Webb

The Wind (1928) Ending

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This Victor Sjostrom film staring Lillian Gish and Lars Hanson is unique. With a plot that draws you in and several marvelously filmed scenes that are pure art, The Wind (1928) is very enjoyable. Lillian was wonderful as usual, I thought the setting and perspective was very neat; I really loved how it can be discussed so much and enjoyed reading different interpretations of the film. I liked it very much, but there was one thing that bothered me. The ending. If you haven't seen it yet, I'm about to give away the ending, so you might not want to read the rest.

The happy ending seemed so abrupt, I wish there had been a gentler transition between Lillian hating her husband and loving him; it couldn't seem genuine because I didn't understand why she was suddenly so in love with him. Even if they wanted a happy ending, I would've liked it better if when he mentioned the money to send her back at the very end, instead of gushing about how she didn't want to leave because she loved him, if she told him she would like to stay because she was beginning to love him and wanted to give it a chance. But that's only my opinion, I've heard some people say that they liked the ending and thought it went nicely with the movie. What do you think about the ending?

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I suppose you could say the ending of the film requires some suspension of disbelief. Personally, I felt it should have been more tragic. But they were probably afraid that such a downer would discourage people from seeing it. If that was the case, the commercial aspects ultimately were more valued than the artistry.

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Interesting that you should mention the ending of "The Wind".  In the novel, the ending is quite different.  She actually leaves with no idea what lies ahead for her.  I guess even back then Hollywood loved a happy ending.

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I guess even back then Hollywood loved a happy ending.

 

Yes, this didn't just happen after sound came in.

 

In one of David Selznick's memos, he complains about how producers don't take risks and are afraid of unhappy endings. Then he proceeds to give examples of films he made that didn't have traditional happy endings-- like A STAR IS BORN and THE GARDEN OF ALLAH.

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Interesting that you should mention the ending of "The Wind".  In the novel, the ending is quite different.  She actually leaves with no idea what lies ahead for her.  I guess even back then Hollywood loved a happy ending.

According to Lillian Gish, they originally filmed the ending from the novel- wandering away into the desert. Lillian Gish said that it was decided that the tragic ending would kill the picture and the happy ending was tacked on at the last minute. However, I have read that several people disagree with this and say that they never filmed the original ending and that the happy ending had been planned from the beginning. Personally, I think the tragic ending would have been much more believable and interesting, but as you said, I guess they just wanted that happy ending.

Lillian Gish Intro to The Wind (1928) where she discusses original ending https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLgh0AM2Kt8

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I suppose you could say the ending of the film requires some suspension of disbelief. Personally, I felt it should have been more tragic. But they were probably afraid that such a downer would discourage people from seeing it. If that was the case, the commercial aspects ultimately were more valued than the artistry.

I usually prefer tragic endings because they seem more powerful and are (for me atleast) more memorable. A happy ending must be done right and must fit with the picture. Tragic movies did not usually do quite as well at the box office and I think they really did sacrifice artistry many times.

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I usually prefer tragic endings because they seem more powerful and are (for me atleast) more memorable. A happy ending must be done right and must fit with the picture. Tragic movies did not usually do quite as well at the box office and I think they really did sacrifice artistry many times.

 

Yes, I think so, too. 

 

Then there's the opposite problem-- where some filmmakers go out of their way to make things overly tragic. They think if the last scene is melodramatic and emotionally devastating it might make the audience forget the plot holes and other weaknesses. The ending has to fit the story. In the case of THE WIND, everything points to her failure in that environment so a happy ending doesn't ring true.

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Yes, I think so, too. 

 

Then there's the opposite problem-- where some filmmakers go out of their way to make things overly tragic. They think if the last scene is melodramatic and emotionally devastating it might make the audience forget the plot holes and other weaknesses. The ending has to fit the story. In the case of THE WIND, everything points to her failure in that environment so a happy ending doesn't ring true.

Often these overly melodramatic films tend to have unlikable, unrelatable, or undeveloped characters making the tragedy seem cheesier because plot development and character development have been pushed aside to focus on the melodrama and the audience does not develop attachment to the characters so their problems seem less relatable.

Some films, however, are able to manage it. I think the key is to first make the audience love the characters so that when they are thrust into situations, the viewers will be sympathetic. Cobra (1925) is a personal favorite of mine; the ending was fitting and not overdone, and I cared about the characters.

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Do you think that the film could have succeeded in using a happy ending if it was done differently, or do you think the original tragic ending would still have been better?

 

In my opinion, a happy ending would work better if it had been foreshadowed-- that no matter what circumstance she was thrown into, her patience and faith were rewarded because the harshness of the elements occasionally yielded to her. But the way it is presented, there is no such foreshadowing. The harshness is unrelenting throughout the movie because they were adhering to the original source material and it was not developed to suggest her triumph, only her defeat.

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In my opinion, a happy ending would work better if it had been foreshadowed-- that no matter what circumstance she was thrown into, her patience and faith were rewarded because the harshness of the elements occasionally yielded to her. but the way it is presented, there is no such foreshadowing. The harshness is unrelenting throughout the movie because they were adhering to the original source material and it was not developed to suggest her triumph, only her defeat.

Yes, it would have been much less confusing if there had been foreshadowing. In the film, she is hysterical and nearly insane when Lars Hanson finds her in the house because she is so terrified of the wind and sand. She is so afraid, she may not have a grip on reality as it is very possible she imagined the whole meeting and killing which explains why there was no body visible outside. Yet she goes from hiding from the wind and hallucinating dead bodies to suddenly loving it only a few minutes later.

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Yes, it would have been much less confusing if there had been foreshadowing. In the film, she is hysterical and nearly insane when Lars Hanson finds her in the house because she is so terrified of the wind and sand. She is so afraid, she may not have a grip on reality as it is very possible she imagined the whole meeting and killing which explains why there was no body visible outside. Yet she goes from hiding from the wind and hallucinating dead bodies to suddenly loving it only a few minutes later.

 

Yes-- a miracle recovery and transformation. It's rather unfortunate the film-makers had to compromise the artistic integrity of the story for such a tidy, wholly unbelievable ending.

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