Tuesday, February 22, 2005

 

Totally Random Thought.

So, I've got the soundtrack to Crimson Tide playing while I type.

I loved the movie-- one of the best submarine flicks ever. Also, while it gets some (okay, many) technical things wrong, the atmosphere is great. I can cut a war film some slack if its heart is in the right place.

Anyways, my observation is an old one, stemming from the first time I saw the film: Crimson Tide would have been perfect had it ended with the launching of the nuclear missiles, i.e. Gene Hackman right, Denzel Washington wrong.

Why? Because for one, that would have been unexpected. C'mon, they're not really going to do it, right?

Also, by taking Hackman's side in the end-- after the film spends a lot of time emphasizing how much of a pigheaded dinosaur he is-- Crimson Tide would have sent the audience home thinking, instead of cheering.

I don't know if there was ever an earlier draft of the script that called for such an ending. I wouldn't be surprised if there was, and the studio canned it in favor of a "happy" ending.

A shame, really. Not every movie needs a happy, crowd-pleasing ending. In fact, many movies are greatly improved by having a downer ending.

A question to you, the readers: any favorite movies out there where the downer ending is absolutely integral to the movie? Or, conversely, any movies out there that *should* have ended badly, but instead went for the cheat?

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Comments:
I'd absolutely love to see one of those natural disaster movies end like that. The attractive scientist goes against the orders of his/her superiors and goes through with the scheme his/her colleagues all say won't work and....it doesn't work. Ten thousand people die because of this jerk's towering hubris and overwhelming arrogance.

Course, I hate natural disaster movies to begin with.
 
The Usual Suspects
Seven
The Wild Bunch

There's another category where movies exist with both happy and sad endings in different versions. These include Brazil--which I like much less after Sept. 11th (anarchist bombers aren't quite so precious anymore) and Blade Runner.
 
Also, here's a synopsis of a Twilight Zone episode--from a comment on Dawn Eden's blog the other day. I think it fits what you're talking about very well:

http://www.haloscan.com/comments/dawneden/110887710821061104/#2939
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Rick9719 is talking about a famous episode of the New Twilight Zone series called "A Small Talent For War".

It's a deliberate twist on "The Day The Earth Stood Still."

An alien race arrives and threatens the earth with destruction unless humanity "changes its ways". In a panic, the world's leaders meet and desperately cobble together a universal peace accord. Several days later, the alien ambassador returns to review humanity's progress. When presented with the peace accord, he laughs. The earth was created to breed a warrior species. Humanity with its "small talent for war" isn't violent enough and the episode ends as the ambassador dooms the earth.
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Well, I certainly wasn't expecting that!
 
Alright See-Dubya, that's scary that you mention that episode.

That New Twilight Zone episode is one of my all-time *favorites*. I refer to it all the time at work ("We better get more use out of our weaponry, or else the aliens won't have any use for us.")

Great catch!
Dave
 
I can think of no other movie that had as powerful an ending as this one. Talk about an impact, and it's precisely because of it's downer ending.

"The Day After"
This movie came out in 1983, directed by Nicholas Meyer and, after watching it at the tender age of 9, subsequently became one of my all time favorite movies.

There can be no other movie that will "get you" at the end quite like this one does.
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How about Vanilla Sky? It's a smidge of a tatty thinker anyway, but the bloke as to "kill himself" to be happy again.

The end of Pi is pretty down too. Though not unexpected. And Requiem for a Dream - I mean, the bloke has lost his arm cos he used too much heroin.
 
Suicide Kings - ending was perfect
 
My wife hated how The Ring ended, but I thought it was perfect.
 
I recently watched "Dodgeball," and the special edition has an alternate ending. In the original version the movie ended right after Ben Stiller pegged Vince Vaughn. Would have been a quite shocking way to end things, and probably better than the silly fluff ending.
 
"Memento" needed the downer ending. And "The Godfather" did well with it the first two times.

"Minority Report" totally wimped out at the end.
 
I gotta go with "Empire Strikes Back". Han in carbon, the Alliance on the run, Luke in limbo.
I suppose it's not an absolute downer, as it's open ended, but it's no Ewoks around the campfire, either.
 
Unabrewer's right about Minority Report. The story has an interesting philosophical background as to the justification for arresting someone for something they haven't done, inevitability, and all that.

But at the end, Pre-Crime gets shut down and the philosophical problem is shoved to the side. It's a cop out.
 
I think "No Way Out" fits your description perfectly. The typical "Hollywood" ending would have had him end up not being a spy.
 
I have to say that Midnight Cowboy, which has probably one of the most emotionaly shattering endings I've ever seen, would lose all of it's power if Hoffman didn't die at the end.

Also, for something a bit more recent, Narc would not have the same impact if Ray Liotta didn't die right after telling Jason Patrick the truth about what really happened in that alley.
 
Das Boot. The irony of the attack in the U-boat pen sums up the wasted bravery of the German submariners, and their 75% casualty rate. Plus it followed the book. Any book and movie that starts with drunken sailors pissing on the road has my vote.
 
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