We’re massive cinephiles here at The Big Smoke, and there’s nothing we like more than a brilliant ending. So, for no reason whatsoever, we’ve decided to share. Spoilers, obviously.
Ah, the cinema. A magical place where an unscrupulous crooked Eurocrat and trenchcoated borderline alcoholic can venture toward a cardboard painted plane surrounded by underpaid midgets, and makes us feel.
Lol. They got away with murder, but they got a friendship out of it, a beautiful one at that. So all good? Off to the safety of Brazzaville they go. Which, incidentally, is in the Congo, and via the mind of Google, is leisurely stroll of 7,706 kilometres, a journey totalling 1,491 hours, a true lads’ trip. Surely, if they’re not shot by the Nazis, or claimed by that place called the Sahara, Rick’s buzz can’t last that long? Nevertheless, we all love Casablanca, and a big part of that is the ending. A good one is a fine opiate. It strips away the harsh edges of life, and indeed logic, bringing out our most primeval of impulses. Love. Hate. Empathy. Regret. Whatever. And much like a drug, your experience is subjective, and your retelling of it won’t be nearly as good to the audience you explain it to, but explain it you must, because it meant something.
That being said, we’ve combed the cinematic addicts of The Big Smoke to share theirs, or at least wait for their turn to talk.
Alexandra Tselios, TBS Publisher – Gone with the wind
The most satisfying movie ending of all time, for me, has to be the final scene from Gone with the wind. Not because of the “frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” line, but because of the tension between two people who had been toying with each other for years. From Scarlett’s reliance on Rhett ,and use of his affection as a pawn, to the final moment when he realises he is completely ready to let go and move on with his life. While initially sad, I always savoured the never-ending resilience of Scarlett who despite being heartbroken’ still managed to compartmentalise her emotions, and preparedness to battle on. We will never know what happened between these characters, moving forwar. However, the fact that we are left witnessing Scarlett’s hard-headed determination remain Rhett’s acceptance of closure; makes it one of the most moving and important scenes, truly nailing the epitome of inconsistencies in life.
Mathew Mackie, TBS Editor – Paths of glory
Oh, Stanley Kubrick. You sure know how to carve a meaningful ending. His back catalogue is sparse, ranging from esoteric mindfuckery, a fuck you to the audience, a middle finger to the establishment via the physical act of love, our species fucking over our species, a trite FU to America/Hollywood’s take on the war hero, and fucking up Tom Cruise’s marriage. However, long before Stanley’s dip into the meaning of sex and apathy toward his audience he created something of lasting beauty.
Paths of Glory speaks loudly on the bloody pointlessness and brutality bureaucracy of the first world war, starring Kirk Douglas’ chin as the conduit. Simply put, the plot swirls around a doomed attack on a position, and the subsequent court-appointed execution of those soldiers who were deemed to have failed. Humanity doesn’t enter into it, in fact, Col Merdehead wanted the entire platoon erased from history. Noble Kirk argues them down to three, who are ultimately shot. An interesting point to note is that we never see “the enemy”. The enemy is the generals who send men out to get shredded, not the Germans. As French guns fell their own in the penultimate scene, the first German we see is in the finale.
The horror of that global conflict is kept in the bars of the song they all hum. They knew then, as we do now, that they killed, and will continue to kill, and be killed by people exactly like them. It’s a classic f-word Kubrick ending, sure, but it’s Stanley at his most arresting.
Please go see it if you can.
Loretta Barnard, Head of TBS Next Gen – Harold and Maude
The ending is sad, uplifting and happy all at once. What we think is going to happen, doesn’t. This question, coupled with the Cat Stevens track at the very end, If you want to sing out, sing out, adds a gorgeous layer of existential joy.
Mark Thompson, TBS Writer – The natural
The Natural is Hollywood at its Hollywoodest. An over the hill Robert Redford plays an over the hill Roy Hobbs, the archetypal farm boy blessed with messianic baseball powers. One the way to the ending, Hobbs strikes out a faux Babe Ruth, confuses Robert Duvall and is shot for some reason, eventually jousts Glenn Close, and has a magic bat, all while striving to be the best that ever was. Also, the evil owner sits in his dank office planning ill deeds and has a glass eye. Original. The Natural embraces every lame trope and truism, so much so that you know of course he’s going to hit the winning home run, especially because the doctors told him not to, he’d get the girl, see his son and fellate a bald eagle, because America.
But God Damn it, despite it being the worst kind of storytelling, the ending always always gets me.
There goes that Roy Hobbs. The best there ever was.
Glen Falkenstein, TBS Writer – Whiplash
With La La Land sweeping the box office, Damien Chazelle’s earlier and already classic hit Whiplash deserves its dues for propelling it’s talented director, and star (Miles Teller), to Hollywood fame. Accomplished in part by the unforgettable ending, when the final scene arrives, we’re as emotionally invested in Andrew’s drumming as his teacher, Fletcher (JK Simmons), and it as beyond thrilling to watch them together, almost wordlessly and in spite of all that’s passed between them, smash out the film’s biggest and best number.
Pendlebury Wicks, TBS Writer – Xanadu
Olivia Newton-John is the undisputed queen of confusing conclusions (see also: Grease), but it is Xanadu that remains the discotheque’s hottest mess, replete with bell bottoms, residual cocaine in the nostrils and banged against the side of a bathroom cubicle. To be kind to the ending, it ties off the movie nicely, following the complete lack of sense of the narrative. Some guy (who was also the guy from The Warriors) takes inspiration from a muse (Olivia Newton-John), literally reincarnated from Greek fiction, and with the assistance of Gene Kelly (Gene Kelly), they decide to build a disco roller rink, because art enabled by the gods should live forever.
Amidst the juggling mimes, the disparate groups of synchronised moves and rollerskating Gene Kelly’s o-face, is the climax of the story, where Olivia (who’s a god, remember) buggers off to her home planet with the construction work done, and old mate is sad. Naw. However, and spoiler alert, Liv rocks back up, because she works there. Naw? Is it the same Liv? Did she reincarnate as herself? Does she have the memory of the past 96 minutes? I don’t know. I suspect not, and that neither do the filmmakers, but what I do know is that Sofia Coppola ripped it off wholesale for Lost in translation.