Monday, June 22, 2009

They're gonna put me in the movies...we'll make a film about a man that's sad and lonely.

This post is a twin to one I did on my music blog . Samantha and Jesse on their recent visit went out to hire some movies. They came back with Across The Universe and two others - The Kite Runner and Stranger than fiction. They were good choices - three out of three! This post is about Stranger Than Fiction. Here's what it's about so that you're in the loop -

Warning - this next bit will ruin the film for you. If you haven't seen the film but want to (it has Maggie Gyllenhaal in it so of course you want to see it!) - stop reading. Now. Okay...but you've been warned. Last chance...

The conundrum at the end of the film is whether to kill off Harold or not. The 'book' being 'written' in the film has been leading up to this event. Harold has met the Maggie character and fallen big time, so we as audience have something (a little thing) invested in their future and therefore - his survival. But everyone agrees Harold HAS to die. Everyone? Well the university English professor - played by Dustin Hoffman, and Harold both do. Yes Harold! Having read the 'book' of his life, he agrees the story needs to end with his tragic death. However, the 'writer' of Harold's life, played by Emma Thompson, has second thoughts and questions killing her hero.

And this is the conundrum. And this is what the writers of this film had to work through. Do they have a tragic end? Do they have a Hollywood, happy, end? And you know in your heart, don't you, what they went with (this is not Hamlet after all). And it was a giant mistake (a lot of 'Ands' I know). Yes at the time I was semi-hoping for a happy ending, but also hoping for a ending that did justice to a very good film. Alas - twas not to be.

It did get me thinking about films with great endings - happy or otherwise. About a Boy springs to mind - all gathered for a cathartic Christmas but open ended as well. Zabriskie Point with the blowing up of a luxury house is also memorable. My two favourite endings though, are Lost in Translation and Pelle The Conqueror. Both do the films justice and are not happy in any Hollywood style. Bob Harris (Bill Murray) walks away from Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) in a Japanese street scene after mumbling something in her ear. WHAT WAS IT???? This is a great ending. He will return to his wife and his American life? Maybe. The greatest ending of all belongs to Pelle. Not only my favourite film ever! But the best ending. Pelle and his father (Lasse - played by Max von Sydow) have gone through hell together. Pelle's mother has died, he is treated as a virtual slave and has Lasse, who likes to drink, as his only companion. Lasse is an old man and Pelle's life is all about getting out into the big world finally. And so they part at the end of the film. Pelle and Lasse embrace and then Pelle turns and walks off in the snow, along a seashore into...who knows what.

Wow. What an ending! Perfect. And how often can you say that?

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