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CaveGirl

Open-Ended Endings

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Recently here I enjoyed perusing some comments about the meaning of the end of certain movie. Some people perhaps appreciate a specific denouement in a film to feel satisfied. Others desire is to find some meaning in the aftermath of events that are viewed from the movie, which seems logical on the surface.

Personally I have always been more attuned to films with speculative endings like Michelangelo Antonioni's "L'Avventura" in which what seemingly starts out to be a story about a couple, turns out quite differently, with one character totally disappearing and then forgotten as the film unfolds. I found the film fascinating on first viewing but remember it received much rage and disappointment with viewers on initial release supposedly.

Sometimes I think the slapping on of the words "The End" or "Fin" on movies, were initially used only to make sure the audience knew to depart their theatre seats to make way for new viewers. I'm kidding but really, when the film goes dark, who needs such admonitions? Some films have fun with this, putting up "The End" with a question mark after or such...

I believe that films are just like life, which never really ends any of its convoluted sequences with interconnected characters, but just takes a short pause occasionally like a Victor Hugo novel. Our lives are just disjointed articles that have many branches, to explore. Shirley Jackson, in her short stories would often entwine characters who were important in one tale, as bit players in another story, which made for interesting reading. Even with a "The End" at the supposed final curtain, don't we always know that there is more that will happen, just like when Shirley MacLaine said she always wondered what happened to C.C. Baxter and Fran Kubelik after the card scene at the close of "The Apartment".

Back to the point though, in a film like "2001: A Space Odyssey" when one hears that Kubrick himself called it a "mythological" adventure and Arthur Clarke said it was created to incite questions in one's mind, I see no reason to try to make a specific determination of what happened in a logical vein, since it is open to interpretation. Such is also the philosophy of David Lynch to let the viewer decide for themself according to their own maxims. Even Luis Bunuel often stated that he could not figure out why people would assail him trying to ask what happened in that scene or this in his highly imaginative movies, and what does it mean. Consequently I feel that if the filmmaker has no compunction about a totally literal explanation for what transpired in the film, why should I need one? Hence...I don't, and I just enjoy the ride and accept that not all in life is explainable.

So with that philosophy in mind, name an open-ended ending in films that you have enjoyed. Or if you really want to complain, one that just drove you crazy...

 

 

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I agree about L'AVVENTURA and its speculative ending which I love. I also very much enjoy the unresolved freeze frame ending of HARPER. Not sure why, but it just works for me.

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Ya know, I've seen "Harper" but totally forgot the ending.

I think the most fun part is when Monica Vitti is wandering around the island with her friend's boyfriend, and then...poof! All of a sudden no one cares anymore about what happened to the other girl and Vitti and the guy become totally entangled.


Wouldn't want her as a friend, but she is great to watch in a movie. She is the epitome of nonchalance and is sophisticatedly cool.

 Thanks, TB!

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Another foreign film with a great ending, open to interpretation-- 

Screen shot 2018-01-25 at 3.29.34 PM.png

STROMBOLI

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My interpretation is that Ingrid was cheating on her husband, Peter with Rossellini and was overtaken by shame?

What she should be ashamed of is that horrid dress!

Just kidding, TB...it's a fine movie and I applaud your selection of it.

Thank you.

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CG, in your OP you've mentioned the ending of my all-time second favorite movie, The Apartment, as an example of your thread's premise, and so this has now spurred me to mention the ending of my all-time favorite movie.

And so yes, while I suppose we do pretty much get the feeling that the future implied marriage of Fred Derry and Peggy Stephenson in The Best Years of Our Lives will probably be a happy one, I've always loved how screenwriter Robert Sherwood sort of leaves the door open as to the future of these two when he has Dana Andrews speaking the following closing lines in the film:

"You know what it'll be, don't you, Peggy? It may take us years to get anywhere. We'll have no money, no decent place to live. We'll have to work, get kicked around....."

(...but yeah, I know there are probably much better examples out there to what you're seeking here, but like I said, because you mentioned The Apartment, this was what first came to my mind)

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dt_marienbad_0706.jpg

Last Year at Marienbad has no beginning or end. The story is ambiguous and contradictory, and we come with our conclusions, if there are any.

3536a2befc86c43c37485b9da18643b0--kather

The Graduate. Benjamin and Elaine are finally together and escape on the bus. But they don't kiss or embrace. There's no physical contact between them. They don't even seem to acknowledge each other.

 

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I guess one of the most famous is Robert Redford asking Peter Boyle "What now?" at the end of The Candidate.

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In the original Dawn of the Dead, the two surviving humans leave the shopping center in a helicopter.  We never know what happens next and are left to speculate.  Will the fuel hold out 'til they find safety?  Will her baby born OK?

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I'm a little uncomfortable contributing without posting a Spoiler Alert warning, though I suppose with the title of the thread, anybody reading the posts knows ahead of time that pretty much every post is giving away an ending to a film. So, I will proceed.

Cast Away, which I learned with mild surprise after the recent Oscar nominations is currently the last film for which Tom Hanks got a nomination, ends with Hanks standing at a crossroads somewhere in West Texas as empty and desolate as that bus stop in the middle of nowhere in North by Northwest. His future can literally go in any direction.

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14 hours ago, CaveGirl said:

...Shirley MacLaine said she always wondered what happened to C.C. Baxter and Fran Kubelik after the card scene at the close of "The Apartment".

I'm surprised that Ms. MacLaine should wonder about that, especially with her channeling skills. She ought have realized the obvious. Mr Baxter, after 10 years of marriage, filed for divorce after Mrs. Baxter hit him over the head with a tennis racquet because she was tired of eating pasta all the time.

Or maybe the would-be future Mr Baxter cheated at rummy and the would=be future Mrs Baxter could see the writing on the wall and returned to find Mr Sheldrake, who says, "Oh, there you are, Fran. I've been looking all over for you."

But we'll never know these things because we never got a The Apartment 2. Thank goodness for that.

:P

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Hitchcock's THE BIRDS has those people crammed in that tiny sports car driving off into an uncertain future.

Sepiatone

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In Blow-Up, we not only never learn if there was a murder and/or who might have committed it if there was, but ALSO which of the two mimes David Hemmings stumbles upon at the end of this flick playing an imaginary game of tennis without either rackets or a ball would win the match!

(...and I've always hated leaving ANY sporting event before the final outcome is known, ya know...well, unless of course if it's already a, ahem, Blow-OUT!)

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I enjoy open-ended films very much, especially when the end is consistent with what preceded it.  L'Avventura, (1960), already mentioned, is a great example.  Then again, the entire Antonioni trilogy ends with ambiguity.  Mulholland Drive (2001) was criticized for being confusing, but I loved it.  And Bergman challenged audiences in Persona (1966). Bergman would recount how people would press him for a definitive answer, with Bergman replying their interpretation of Persona was better than anything he can offer.

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FIVE EASY PIECES where at the end (SPOILER ALERT) Bobby Dupea (Jack Nicholson) abandons Rayette (Karen Black) and heads to Alaska....can't help but wonder what will become of poor Rayette without Bobby around....or what will ultimately become of Bobby himself.

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Could we say the ending to Gone With the Wind is open-ended? I mean, it's a turn in the plot where the movie could just keep going if the filmmakers wanted. Rhett has just walked out on Scarlett, but she's already scheming about how she's going to get him back. Could she do it? Is she delusional? What happens next? (yeah, yeah, I know there was a sequel novel and made-for-TV movie, but I know nothing about them).

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Really, a lot of movies(most, I would venture) are "open-ended".   For instance;

In THE GRAPES OF WRATH, whatever does become of the Joad family?  What becomes of TOM?  Was it HIM who eventually wrote that JACKSON 5 hit? ;)

Sepiatone

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