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Parting Shots.


slaytonf
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Most movies end with neither a bang nor a whimper.  There are a bunch of movies that have memorable endings.  You can take your pick.  But some movies have truly remarkable endings.  I don't mean in terms of plot, or last line, or how a character is packed up, and packed off.  I mean the last shot being mesmerizing or astonishing in its effect.

Josef von Sternberg is a highly regarded director whose work, mainly with Marlene Dietrich, a visual panoply, astounds, delights, and entertains the eye.  One of my favorite moments of his comes at the end of Morocco (1930).  Miss Dietrich, as Amy Jolly, walks off into the desert with the women camp-followers.  She has surrendered to her love for Tom Brown, giving up her power (sex-based) over men-and women--liberating herself.  It's a frequent theme in Sternberg's work, where a woman capitulates, and in doing so, conquers her man:

Sternberg holds the shot with a fixed camera, no music save for the soldiers' bugle and drum march, for an absurdly long time, about one minute twenty seconds.  Few directors would have had the courage, or genius to do it.

In The Light That Failed (1939), William Wellman dramatizes Kipling's story of Dick Heldar (Ronald Colman), his career as artist destroyed by blindness, his last and crowing masterwork destroyed by its vindictive model, who seeks out a British military action in Africa.  Friends of his grant his request to be put into a cavalry charge, where he is of course killed by a volley of gunfire.  The last shot shows his friends running up to his body:

His horse comes out of the distance, like his muse, or the spirit of art, puzzled at his absence, in search of its cause.  It is a shot you'd expect in a picture by Fellini or Renoir, but Wellman creates a moment unique for a Hollywood movie.  No more haunting, exalting, and disturbing image exists in American cinema.  

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1 hour ago, slaytonf said:

 

 

In The Light That Failed (1939), William Wellman dramatizes Kipling's story of Dick Heldar (Ronald Colman), his career as artist destroyed by blindness, his last and crowing masterwork destroyed by its vindictive model, who seeks out a British military action in Africa.  Friends of his grant his request to be put into a cavalry charge, where he is of course killed by a volley of gunfire.  The last shot shows his friends running up to his body....

...His horse comes out of the distance, like his muse, or the spirit of art, puzzled at his absence, in search of its cause.  It is a shot you'd expect in a picture by Fellini or Renoir, but Wellman creates a moment unique for a Hollywood movie.  No more haunting, exalting, and disturbing image exists in American cinema.  

Oh, I dunno 'bout that, slayton.

Seems to me when it comes to a "haunting, exalting and disturbing [final] image in American cinema", it's STILL kind'a hard to top THIS one that pretty much suggests that old point that try as we might "you can't take it with ya" and that materialism will always be a poor substitute for a life truly well lived...

 

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19 hours ago, Dargo said:

Oh, I dunno 'bout that, slayton.

Seems to me when it comes to a "haunting, exalting and disturbing [final] image in American cinema", it's STILL kind'a hard to top THIS one that pretty much suggests that old point that try as we might "you can't take it with ya" and that materialism will always be a poor substitute for a life truly well lived...

 

A life of prodigality, of both things and people, capped by a brobdingnagianly prodigal death.  A rejection of materialism certainly most disturbing to contemporary audiences. Heyyy. . . .waaaaitaminit.  That's more than one shot!

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14 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

modern-times.jpg

 

While not a "monumental" ending, I always liked this parting shot closing MODERN TIMES. Walking the road of life with dignity, strong, together....wherever it leads.

Two frail individuals off into a very big and indifferent world.  And yet, I do not feel afraid for them.  The best embodiment of the American Dream there is.  So naturally the man who made it was excised from the country by a dirty trick.

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29 minutes ago, slaytonf said:

More courage and genius.

I was going to mention the ending to TTM earlier slayton, but seeing as how that's a British film, I didn't.

(...somehow I thought your thread was geared to American-made cinema, but after rereading your OP just now, I guess it wasn't, huh)

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