They say it’s about the journey, not the destination, but that bit of folksy wisdom can only go so far. While in theory, a good film with a weak ending should still be good, a lackluster finale can take a shotgun to the kneecap of what should have been a great film. A month or so ago, I watched a solid little horror movie that completely undid itself with that most grievous of movie ending sins: the “it was all a dream” ending. You could make the best movie ever, but if you end with the main character waking up to reveal that it was all in their heads, you’ve blown it. Doubly so if you add in some vague “or was it??” tease. Endings are important, some would say the most important thing of all, and a new video essay from Youtube film channel Now You See It examines how to end a movie and how not to.
The video starts off its discussion with a look at Gus Van Sant’s 1998 remake of Psycho, and how a seemingly insiginificant change to the film’s ending shot can totally change the tone and meaning of the ending. The video then goes on with looks at the ending scenes of classics like Twelve Angry Men, The Searchers and The Godfather, the endings of which are all part of film history. The video, while a bit brief, raises a lot of good points and is a great starting point for a solid discussion about what can make a film’s ending either succeed or fail in its intent. Of course, Now You See It misses one crucial point: if you’re unsure how to end your film, just do this and you’ll be fine.
Check out the video below, and let us know: what are your favorite movie endings. Leave your answer in the comments section.