Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Films with Ambiguous Endings.

Dad-

I  bet you recognize this shot by now. This must have been in the early fifties.

So many films with ambiguity but the first I remember seeing was THE GRADUATE. Are Ben and Elaine relieved or worried after their hasty departure?

What films have ambiguous endings that work? Do you like ambiguity or do you prefer an ending that makes sense of everything? 

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

MEMENTO

For me it works mainly because Guy Pearce is so convincing.


Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I love MEMENTO and keep meaning to watch it again to see if it seems easier to follow now. Hard to get Phil to ever rewatch a movie though.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - Sometimes ambiguous endings can be really compelling. And The Graduate is one of the best. There's some ambiguity about the ending of 1983's The Big Chill, too. There's more than one 'loose end' and I've always wanted a sequel to that.

Jerry House said...

PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK

Anders E said...

John Carpenter's THE THING.

John said...

I find there are more novels with ambiguous endings than movies. Has a lot to do with prose and interpretting a writer's meaning. Movies are so visual and the director and editor are trying make you feel a certain way about everything you are watching. The ambiguity usually isn't a choice, it's usually something the viewer tacks on subjectively.

But I prefer a neat tidy ending in a movie. Life is too much of a mess. Art should give us hope and possibilities that Life usually never provides.

I really dislike the "It was all a dream" cop out ending. I'm left feeling pissed off and manipulated. Only works for The Wizard of Oz for me. Every other dream ending I've seen is just laziness on the writer's part.

Al Tucher said...

THE JAGGED EDGE. The angle and framing of the shot make it hard to tell whether the bad guy is Jeff Bridges. To me, the movie didn't have the heft to support that kind of ambiguity

le0pard13 said...

Alfred Hitchcock's THE BIRDS, and it just finishes with no end credits, too.

pattinase (abbott) said...

That's a good point. Only a good movie can end with ambiguity successfully. Otherwise, you think they really didn't know what they were doing.

Steve Oerkfitz said...

John Sayles Limbo.

Dana King said...

THE CONVERSATION comes to mind. Ambiguous endings can be very eddective, but they're really hard to pull off.

George said...

I liked the ending to BLUE JASMINE. The ending isn't really ambiguous, but it is open-ended.

Cap'n Bob said...

What's ambiguous about The Graduate? Ben stops Elaine from marrying the jerk and they move on down the road.

pattinase (abbott) said...

If you look at their faces as they sit on the back of the bus, they both go from intense satisfaction to something else. As if, what have we done here.

Charlieopera said...

I most often prefer open endings (even if only I see them that way) ... and pretty much all of my favorites have them ... Blue Velvet, The Pope of Greenwich Village, Barfly, Casablanca, etc. ... I even enjoyed the Sopranos ending (which most people hated) ... but there is one ending with closure I very much enjoyed. Another tv/cable series, Six Feet Under ... loved the end of that one; don't think it'll ever be topped for me.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I hope to watch that one from front to back again.
THE SOPRANOS has so much interesting stuff online about that ending. The more you watch it frame by frame, the better is is.

Barry Ergang said...

I recently watched a film via Netflix streaming called SCENIC ROUTE that has an ambiguous ending.

pattinase (abbott) said...

That's a new title for me. Will have to look it up,

Anonymous said...

UNFAITHFUL has a nice ambiguous ending.