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20 FANTASTIC FINALES FROM FILMDOM (2 of 4)

IsleofCinema and BoxingUweBoll have teamed up to bring you The TOP 20 CLOSING SCENES in film, as selected by our writers. We continue our countdown with part 2 – numbers 15-11:

15.) Sanjuro (1962) – Akira Kurosawa

[by Marco Noyola]

The use of gore is rarely listed among Akira Kurosawa’s many accomplishments, but it is noteworthy: not only did his smash hit Yojimbo famously feature a severed hand and arm, but its sequel Sanjuro forever raised the bar on what could be shown on screen. Despite a high body count, the sword fights in Sanjuro are bloodless affairs, in keeping with the sequel’s lighter tone and higher-minded aims. Toshirô Mifune plays Sanjuro as scruffy and cynical as ever, but beneath his prickly demeanor is still an honorable man. Through the course of the movie he rescues an elderly woman who comically admonishes him for his violent ways, and though Sanjuro is exasperated by her remonstrations he ultimately takes her words to heart; “You’re like a drawn sword . . . but good swords are kept in their sheaths.” By movie’s end Sanjuro has emerged victorious and the villains have all been brought to justice save one – a rival ronin named Hanbei (Tatsuya Nakadai) who demands retribution. Realizing a duel is pointless, Sanjuro demurs, but Hanbei gives him no choice. What follows is a tense stare down, culminating in what is arguably the first cinematic depiction of an arterial spray. After so many bloodless deaths the sheer volume of blood-drenched gore is completely unexpected, and still has the power to shock today’s more jaded audiences. Sanjuro rebukes his worshipful followers and wanders off, disgusted by cruelty and the futility of violence; an attitude that would only deepen in Kurosawa’s later films.

14.) City Lights (1931) – Charles Chaplin

[by Steven Short]

The final scene of City Lights is just about the most goddamned romantic thing ever captured on film, and is enough to warm the most dejected of hearts. Charlie Chaplin’s signature Tramp character endures of series of slapstick tomfoolery throughout the film in order to find money for a blind and destitute flower girl. Earning money through boxing, street-sweeping, and the exploitation of a drunk, suicidal millionaire, the Tramp lavishes the girl with money and, although he is placed in jail due to his efforts, eventually earns enough money to fund an operation that will cure her blindness. After a chance encounter with the flower girl at her new shop, the Tramp assumes that the girl will not associate with him now that she can see that he is in tatters. In the film’s closing moments, the girl feels his hands after giving him some coins and recognizes his touch. A look of supreme gratitude from the girl is followed by the Tramp’s ecstatic grin before the fade-to-black. The scene stands as evidence to the profundity of silent film and its ability to convey drama through physical expression alone. The time-honored success of the scene is due almost entirely to the actors’ ability to make their audience feel something simply by the way they look at each other. Although the overall message of the ending might come across as too unrealistic and cloying for some, the lyrical and heart-achingly romantic fashion in which it was delivered will never be matched as long as long movies keep having sound.

13.) The Sixth Sense (1999) – M. Night Shyamalan

[by Rodrigo R. Rodarte]

Say what you will about M. Night Shyamalan – who will most likely be remembered now for such latter day sins as Lady In The Water and Avatar: Last Airbender – but for anyone who didn’t see it coming, the ending of The Sixth Sense remains one of the best surprises of the late 20th century, right up there with O.J.’s acquittal and Monica Lewinski turning out to be a woman. When executed properly, those great “ahah” moments in films or in life are always undeniably satisfying. Whether it’s a recap of a great heist where you see little nuances you missed the first time, the last clue in a mystery when you realize that adorable little girl from the beginning was actually the killer all along, or the time you’re up late higher than Jesus, searching the house high and low for a snack when you suddenly remember you left a half-eaten Snickers in your car – we all love a good surprise. It’s what Shyamalan pulled off so well in Sixth and miraculously managed to fail at in every attempt since. My favorite is Signs- why Joaquin Phoenix would need Mel Gibson’s dead wife to tell him to swing a baseball bat at a nine-foot tall alien instead of just using common sense may be the greatest mystery of all. But truth be told, M. was right on the money when it turned out Bruce was dead all along in Sixth.

[admin. note: Clip cuts out a few seconds before the final frame, but was the best we could find. Also, embedding has been disabled.]

12.) No Country For Old Men (2007) – Ethan Coen & Joel Coen

[by Rodrigo R. Rodarte]

For the same reasons so many sing high praises to this ending, an equal number seem to hate on it. True to their form, the Coens’ ending to No Country is, in a traditional sense, unfulfilling, abrupt and seemingly irrelevant. Not the unlikely come-back, final shoot out putting the good guys back on top sort of ending you might want – more of an intimate soliloquy on one man’s approach to the end of not just his life, but his relevance in the world. But as confusing as it is for some viewers, No Country truly is Tommy Lee’s movie, with Josh Brolin’s story serving as a younger, hotter, action-driven vehicle for delivering the film’s true message: that getting old and not knowing what’s going on around you sucks balls. So it’s not only appropriate that No Country ends with Sheriff Bell’s so eloquently remembered dream about his dad with metaphor written all over it, it’s also thematically the most perfect way to end a film that’s more of a moving photograph than a traditional narrative, not to mention the fact that it stays truer to the book than most adaptations. It wouldn’t be appropriate to put in any more literal terms than an old lawman poetically succumbing to the irrelevance of his generation, but suffice it to say that this ending is memorable if for nothing more than its beautifully delivered serenity in contrast to the humanity-testing violence witnessed in the rest of the film.

[admin. note: Low quality and cuts out a few seconds before the final frame. People must not like posting spoilers I guess!]

11.) A Clockwork Orange (1971) – Stanley Kubrick

[by Rockie Juarez]

Instead of taking us on a journey into the impossible as he did in 2001, here Kubrick takes us on a more ‘grounded’ approach: A cancer to his society, Alex (Malcolm McDowell) is a true psycho killer, the kind of monster who actually enjoys committing acts of violence – raping and killing while belting out “Singing In The Rain” is par for the course for Alex. Incarcerated for murder, government scientists decide to subject him to a new treatment of “reconditioning,” in which ultra-violent acts such as rape and murder will actually make him sick, and physically incapacitate him. Once testing is completed, our rehabilitated hero is released, never to harm another soul. Homecoming, however, proves rough: rejected by his family, beaten up by friends and held captive by one of his previous victims, Alex has a terrible time readjusting, and tries to kill himself. He awakens in a hospital to an apologetic Government groveling at his feet, informing him that if he plays nice (i.e. ‘don’t tell the world we fucked up please’), he’ll be pampered like a king. Wait a second!? The bad guy wins? The monster that’s lied, cheated, raped and brutalized is rewarded? So how does Alex celebrate his new-found fortune? By gleefully riding into the sunset whilst fucking a friendly socialite as his upper class cronies applaud the show. Wrong or Right doesn’t matter, conforming a monster is impossible, and not only is there no justice in the world but what injustice there is is state-sanctioned! Welcome to the future- courtesy of Stanley Kubrick.

[admin. note: Impossible to find, so we posted the credits. And wouldn’t you know it, embedding is disabled. WTF!?]

Hope you enjoyed parts 1 & 2! Be sure to tune in next week when we bring you part 3! And be sure to check out Boxing Uwe Boll for the countdown of the top 20 film openings!

 

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